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The Black Dahlia (Widescreen Edition)
The Black Dahlia
Widescreen Edition
Actors: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, John Kavanagh
Director: Brian De Palma
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2006     2hr 1min


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Movie Details

Actors: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, John Kavanagh
Director: Brian De Palma
Creators: Vilmos Zsigmond, Mark Isham
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/26/2006
Original Release Date: 09/15/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 09/15/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 1min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 32
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, German, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Callie K. (ballofglitter) from GRAND ISLAND, NE
Reviewed on 5/24/2014...
This movie had a lot of potential, and I was reading others reviews and a lot of people base they're review on the fact that the movie makes up it's own conclusion of what happened. That doesn't bother me because of the fact that it is still a big mystery they had to do something to make the movie my problem was that is was pretty slow to where it wouldn't hold my attention, it's hard to understand what's going on because it jumps around and doesn't explain a lot. It just wasn't as great as it could've been.
Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA
Reviewed on 7/6/2011...
The Black Dahlia at first glance appears to be a true crime film since it is based on a real murder. But in reality, it's a modern film noir. Some of the facts are taken from the real case and then it becomes a fantasy film. This is pretty typical De Palma, so if you're a fan, you will probably like it. If you're not into his gritty Hitchcockian-cum-Argento style, then you'll probably hate it. It's not horrible, but it's nothing to write home about, either. Unless you have been waiting for the latest De Palma tour-de-force.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Cara F. (dichten) from PRT WASHINGTN, WI
Reviewed on 12/8/2009...
Because I had to give this movie something in order to make a review, I gave it a half-star for the subject matter.

The Elizabeth Short case had grabbed hold of numerous generations, still captivating the media and its audience to this day. The violence inflicted upon her is horrific, an example of unadulterated rage and the question still remains: Who could have loathed this woman so wholly as to mutilate her (to the point of nearly severing her in half)?

The suspect list is lengthy, including medical professionals, child killers, folk singers and even Orson Welles.

This movie (based on the James Ellroy novel of the same name) tries to narrow down that list to one person. Unfortunately, it gets lost in its own pompousness.

Horribly cast and therefor horrendously acted, this movie staggers about blindly on a badly written, incoherent plot -- which had been butchered by De Palma in order to shorten the length of the film. As I watched this I didn't care about the characters or their love triangle or their decent into the LA underground. To my horror, I began to not care about the savage end of Elizabeth Short. I only wanted one thing: not to know who killed this poor woman, but for the move to finally end.

My advice? Stay far away from this movie. Instead, read "The Black Dahlia Avenger" by Steve Hodel (a retired LAPD homicide detective) who brings about definitive evidence to the case and makes a true, substantial case against who he believes the murderer to be. Or simply read the book "The Black Dahlia" is based on. Maybe watch pain dry -- do anything but watch this movie.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B.
Reviewed on 7/18/2009...
Not the best example of acting. Too long. Too campy. Pretty bad.
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

No fragrant flower
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 10/02/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia" is like a beautiful sports car with no engine under the hood: it sits there looking mighty pretty, but it never actually goes anywhere.

The movie is based on the James Ellroy novel of the same name, a highly fictionalized telling of Hollywood's most notorious unsolved murder case. On January 15, 1947, a young woman named Beth Short was found brutally slain - her body gruesomely dismembered and gutted - in a field in Los Angeles. The case became a cause celebre around the nation, with speculation rife as to the background of the victim and the identity of the perpetrator, but the actual killer was never found. The movie focuses on two fictional homicide detectives, played by Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, who, to varying degrees, become obsessed with the case. Their investigation leads them into the heart of a film noir maelstrom comprised almost exclusively of twisted psychosexual perverts and Tinsel Town sickos.

Thanks to Vilmos Zsigmond's fine cinematography and all the spiffy 1940's paraphernalia with which the costume designer and art directors have decked out the movie, "The Black Dahlia" is never anything but dazzling to look at, but in almost every other respect, the film is a monumental disappointment. Although the first half is relatively straightforward in its approach and style, by about the midway point, De Palma's trademark cinematic excesses - stilted dialogue, floridly staged action scenes, campy performances, and overemphatic music - begin to take over and the film becomes an incoherent mess.

It becomes virtually impossible to keep all the characters straight without a program, and poor Fiona Shaw - so wonderful in "Mountains of the Moon" - is required to overact so outrageously that audiences the world over will be doubled over in laughter at her scenery-chewing histrionics. Her climactic speech - in which she names names and blurts out all the details of the crime, of course - will surely go down in movie history as one of those classic it's-so-bad-it's-good moments that movie lovers everywhere will be mimicking and howling over for years to come.

Not that the other actors fare much better. Hartnett gives his all to the role of Bucky Bleichert but, as an actor, he lacks the gravitas necessary to make the character interesting. Eckhart is forced to thrash around inside a character whose motivations are never convincingly spelled out for either the actor or the audience, and Scarlet Johansson and Hilary Swank seem to be doing parodies of crime thriller vixens rather than serious interpretations of believable, three-dimensional characters.

It pains me to have to say this, but no one comes out smelling like a rose with this "Dahlia."

'The Black Dahlia': A Misnomer of a Title
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/29/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Brian de Palma made an odd decision in creating this apparently very expensive, very strange and confusing version of a film, a movie less about the grisly/twisted unsolved murder (grossly illustrated ad infinitum here) of a wannabe 1940s actress of the title and more about two boxer cops (bland Josh Hartnett as 'Mr. Ice' and over the top Aaron Eckhart as 'Mr. Fire') and their bizarre ménage a trois with unfocused Scarlett Johansson. The film as written by Josh Friedman attempts to follow the novel by James Ellroy, itself a strange riff on the Black Dahlia murder. What results is an over produced, over directed, under realized recreation of the 1940s complete with slicky costumes and very loud music by (surprisingly!) Mark Isham.

There are so many subplots filled with walk on characters that keeping the story understandable is almost impossible - certainly not worth an attempt to capsulize for a review. There are some terrific little performances by Fiona Shaw as the druggie mad woman whose role becomes significant only at film's end, Hilary Swank as the copycat Dahlia who dallies in cops and soldiers and lesbians (convincingly so), and Mia Kirshner who presence as the true Black Dahlia is shown only in black and white film clips that indeed focus the unwieldy script while she is on!

Odd to see actors with the credentials of this cast wandering around in la-la land seemingly looking for a script that makes sense. But it is a pretty period piece to look at despite the lack of reasonable storyline. Grady Harp, December 06"
Another Disappointment From De Palma
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/18/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Despite his impressive visual style, Brian De Palma remains a hit-or-miss filmmaker. For every "Dressed to Kill" or "The Untouchables," there's a half-dozen misfires such as "Bonfire of the Vanities" and "Snake Eyes." Unfortunately, "The Black Dahlia" (2006) belongs in the latter category. This deliriously incoherent James Ellroy adaptation suffers from flat acting and lack of narrative focus. However, the Los Angeles period detail is spot on and film buffs will enjoy the references to director Paul Leni's 1928 classic "The Man Who Laughs." It's a shame this watchable mess didn't work out better."