|Plot details follow, read at your own risk.|
- "Psychology is a powerful tool... in the right hands, of course."
- ―Harlan Fontaine
Dr. Harlan J. Fontaine, PHD is a central character and one of the main antagonists of the Arson desk. He is a clinical psychiatrist who is featured several times on the front page story of the Los Angeles Inquisitor. Throughout the game's events, the majority of his appearances are in newspaper flashbacks.
- "Meet doctor Harlan Fontaine, doctor to the stars. Mr. fix-it to the mental wreckage of Hollywood."
- ―Roy Earle
Events of L.A. Noire
Early newspaper appearances
After teaching a psychology lecture, Fontaine met former Marine and medical student Courtney Sheldon who expressed a strong interest in psychology - particularly to help treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Fontaine agreed to provide therapy for Sheldon's friend Ira Hogeboom in exchange for Sheldon taking a part-time job at one of Fontaine's clinics. Over time, Sheldon and Fontaine developed a mentor-student relationship, with Sheldon loyally following and trusting Fontaine. While treating Ira Hogeboom, Fontaine was unable to fully relieve him of his trauma, but was able to keep him susceptible to manipulation through morphine and hypnotherapy - something Fontaine would later exploit.
Sheldon eventually turned to Fontaine in a moment of crisis, confiding in him his involvement in the SS Coolridge robbery and information regarding the stolen surplus Morphine distribution with the Cohen Crime Syndicate. Fontaine provided a solution for Sheldon's predicament and for both of their benefits. Fontaine offered to take the morphine off Sheldon's hands, promising to distribute it legally to medical facilities, and that in return he would be able to reinvest money into the a plan to build houses for returning G.I.s. Sheldon confidently accepted Fontaine's offer, as it not only solved his problem but would provide benefits for his war buddies.
In actuality, Fontaine became a drug dealer, discreetly selling the morphine to students and addicts by prescribing them as medication. With the proceeds, Fontaine was able to invest in the Suburban Redevelopment Fund, becoming part of Leland Monroe's criminal syndicate to extort millions of dollars from the government. Sheldon's name was also added to the Fund's list of managerial stakeholders, as Sheldon had originally donated the morphine to Fontaine.
Two prominent patients of Fontaine's were Elsa Lichtmann and Lou Buchwalter, both German exiles who fled to America. While Fontaine treated Elsa's drug addiction, he offered Lou a job to work at Elysian Fields Development to build houses - appropriate, as Lou was a carpenter. However, Fontaine was using Lou for the benefit of the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and was fully aware that the houses were fraudulent and unsafe; hence, he was partially responsible for Buchwalter's death. Fontaine visited Elsa at The Blue Room to inform her of Lou's death, but rationalized it as an "industrial accident".
- "You may well be fascinating to speak to, Detective. But I charge by the half hour, and I guarantee you couldn't afford me."
- ―Harlan Fontaine
While Monroe was facing the predicament of several holdouts, Fontaine offered a solution to ensure acquisition of the estates. Monroe rigged a promotional travel contest to ensure these families won a prize of a weekend getaway to Catalina Island, allowing Fontaine an opportunity to have Ira burn the homes to the ground. Fontaine suggested Ira burn down the houses as a form of treatment to help confront his past. Although the houses successfully burned down, allowing Monroe to acquire them, the Sawyer and Morelli families died in the fires because they had cancelled their trips, much to Monroe's shock and displeasure. Ira, guilt-ridden over the deaths, was driven further into insanity and was angered that Fontaine had used him, causing him to no longer fall under Fontaine's control.
Fontaine was eventually confronted by Sheldon at his office, the latter naïvely informing him of the Suburban Redevelopment Fund conspiracy and expressing his complete shock. Fontaine, however, easily played on Sheldon's trust. Tricking him into thinking he was innocent, Fontaine used the opportunity to inject and overdose Sheldon with morphine, killing him. After leaving Sheldon's body in an alleyway for Cole Phelps and Herschel Biggs to discover, Fontaine met with Monroe at a restaurant to discuss damage control. Monroe warned Fontaine of Jack Kelso's investigation of the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and finally told him to dispose of Ira.
Fontaine was later visited by Elsa, who explained her recovery from her addiction and mentioned Cole and Jack, causing Fontaine to stutter on his words. Catching him off-guard, Elsa confronted Fontaine by stating she knew of his involvement with Monroe and that he had suggested Lou worked at the housing site; insinuating that Fontaine was responsible for Lou's death.
Finding himself cornered and exposed, Fontaine played up his innocence and attacked Elsa, striking her on the forehead with a crystal ball, knocking her unconcious. As he prepared to kill her to conceal his corruption, Ira Hogeboom arrived and witnessed the whole attack. In a fit of rage, Ira stormed in, grabbed Fontaine by the throat, and strangled him to death, saving Elsa, avenging Sheldon and retributing his evil deeds, and for retaliation against his manipulations. LAPD detectives Cole Phelps, Herschel Biggs, and Rusty Galloway investigated Fontaine's murder, and Phelps and Biggs discovered that Fontaine kept a stash of morphine in his office, as well as Fontaine's involvement with the SRF, including a freeway map, as well as blackmail papers.
- "You certainly are a cold character, Harlan."
- ―Leland Monroe
- "I've taken quite an interest in Mr Sheldon. So you can understand why it pains me to see him lambasted unnecessarily. Please leave us be."
- ―Harlan Fontaine
Fontaine speaks with a certain eloquence and a very flowery and educated vocabulary; he uses attractive words to emphasize his intelligence. Fontaine has something of a large ego, taking pride in his work and intelligence. He is extremely confident that things will always play out the way he plans them, and undermines the intelligence of others, viewing them as submissive and naive puppets almost to the point of malignant narcissism. He has an unnaturally calm demeanor, always speaking with a calm, disarming southern accent even in the most tense of situations, never revealing his emotions or intentions. Fontaine is also condescending and patronising, as demonstrated when speaking to Phelps in Manifest Destiny.
- "How did you get my number, Ira?"
- "I'd like you to come back to the clinic."
- "I think you are confused. You haven't been to the clinic for weeks."
- "Why don't you tell me where you are and I can come to you? I think the fires should end now. They have served their purpose."
- "Keep your voice down, Leland. Control is of the essence."
- "Leland, we will not solve our problems by announcing them to the general public. We only speed ourselves on our way to the gallows."
- "Speaking of which, I've had to dispose of our young medical student.
- "He has a friend called Kelso who knows all about the development on Normandie Avenue."
- "And you thought it unimportant to inform me?"
- "And have you?"
- "Kelso works for Benson. Is he reliable?"
- "Can you take care of Kelso?"
- Courtney Sheldon - Injected in the neck with a lethal dose of morphine after blowing Fontaine's cover.
- "Upon Reflection" (Intro & Newspaper)
- "The Red Lipstick Murder" (Newspaper)
- "A Walk in Elysian Fields" (Newspaper)
- "House of Sticks"
- "A Polite Invitation" (Newspaper)
- "A Different Kind of War" (Killed & Newspaper)
- Fontaine is probably loosely based on Dr. John Havilland's character, appearing in James Ellroy's novel Because The Night; his last name being a reference to sister actresses Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland.
- It is unknown how a lighter found itself in the deceased Fontaine's left hand, and why. He wasn't holding it when he attempted to get Hogeboom off of his throat, hinting at the possibility it was placed there. One thing in particular that links it to Hogeboom is the fact that it produces fire. The initials"'I.H." are on the lighter, implying that it was Hogeboom's personal lighter.