Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field is based on an actual 1963 case. L.A. plainclothesmen Karl Hattinger (John Savage) and Ian Campbell (Ted Danson) routinely investigate a pair of suspicious types, Greg Powell (James Woods) and Jimmy Smith (Franklin Seales). Unexpectedly, Powell pulls a gun on the cops, then forces them into a deserted onion field, where he kills Campbell in cold blood. Hattinger manages to escape, and through his eyewitness account, Powell and Smith are arrested. But that is not that. Thanks to their knowledge and manipulation of the quicksilver legal system, Powell and Smith manage to evade prosecution for years. Meanwhile, Hattinger goes through hell on earth, tortured with guilt over the fact that he lived while Campbell died so ignominiously.