THE BLACK DAHLIA IS SET IN 1940S L.A. TWO COPS, BUCKY BLEICHERT & HIS PARTNER, LEE BLANCHARD, INVESTIGATE THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH SHORT, A YOUNG WOMAN FOUND BRUTALLY MURDERED. BUCKY SOON REALIZES HIS GIRLFRIEND HAD TIES TO ... more »THE DECEASED & SOON AFTER THAT, HE BEGINS UNCOVERING CORRUPTION IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.« less
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.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
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.
2 of 2 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.
5 of 5 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.
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kimberly B. (TheBookHunter) from SALEM, OH Reviewed on 9/29/2008...
The storyline is facinating yet I think they could have done a better job on the movie itself.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Barbara S. (gallagirl) from GLOVERSVILLE, NY Reviewed on 5/13/2008...
A little slow in the beginning but great plot with many twists.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Hilda S. from YORKTOWN, VA Reviewed on 4/10/2008...
Again I feel this movie just didn't do the book justice. The story of The Black Dahlia has facinated many people over the years, but this movie was pretty slow and not at all entertaining despite the actors.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Tarra S. (thesaintmom) from PIEDMONT, SC Reviewed on 3/13/2008...
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jeff V. (burielofmel) from HARRIMAN, TN Reviewed on 3/7/2008...
The cover of this makes it looks like its going to be one of those movies you just have to have in your collection. It's also got Scarlett Johansson. In my opinion, she doesn't save this movie. It seemed to me that it had almost nothing to do with the Elizabeth Short movie. It was all about a fictional 3 way affair that I found mind numbingly boring. I mean, it's unreal how boring this thing was. Bad. Very, very bad.
9 of 12 member(s) found this review helpful.
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."
MORE "FILM NO" THAN "FILM NOIR"!
Bambi Shangri-La | Phoenix, AZ USA | 08/03/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Even though it is still one of California's unsolved murders, the whole Elizabeth Short case can be told in about 60 seconds. So making a 2 hour movie would be quite a feat. That's why the director factored the L.A. "Zoot Suit" riots of 1943, a boxing match, the killing of black pimps and prostitutes who were minding their own business, the dysfunctional love affair between Scarlett Johansson's character and Josh Harnett's partner, a bunch of very chic lesbians, and the bizarre wealthy family of a bi-sexual Hilary Swank (does her mother have Parkinson's or is that the actress' idea of an alcoholic socialite?)
We didn't hear about the murder until 20 minutes had passed and only then because it happened on the street behind the pimp shoot-out. Somehow the "first responders" on the Black Dahlia crime scene didn't hear all of that gun fire on the other side of the building. Instead of going to the rescue of their fellow officers, they and a dozen reporters stood transfixed on the naked body in the park. So much for "Officer down! Send back-up!" The best thing about this movie was the autopsy which was done in a compelling narrative by a jowly M.E. That's about all we learned about this murder victim who was made out to be a slut who slept with men AND women in exchange for a sandwich or pair of nylons. In fact, there was not one woman in this movie who was not depicted as prostitute, golddigger, or tramp. Only the lesbians had class and dignity - and there is a gang of them! (Look for an uncredited k.d. lang in a great piece of camp.)
Hartnett has the charisma of a grape. Johansson fits right in during an era when 20 year-old women looked like they were 35. But she handles a lame role like a pro. I don't know why Swank was even in the area. And that accent! I couldn't figure out if she was a "Valley Girl" or a Nazi!
Many of facts of the murder are wrong - Elizabeth Short's dad didn't live in Los Angeles - he lived in Vallejo, a good 8 hour drive north, 30 miles above San Francisco. Here he lives right down the street. Nothing was said about his staging him a suicide and sneaking off to Vallejo, abandoning Elizabeth's mother with 5 girls to raise alone in Massachusetts. He surfaced years later, trying to reunite with his wife, who declined. The "Zoot Suit Riots" were in 1943 and the Dahlia case was in 1947. Here they all happened within a few months. I understand "literary license" but here it wasn't used to make an existing story better - it was used to try to create something which wasn't much to start with.
The production has a great "film noir" feel - I was expecting Mickey Spillane to walk in. But this movies should have just been "FILM NO"! Brian De Palma, what were you thinking? "
C. Valls | Jacksonville, Florida | 12/28/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This film should not have been titled "The Black Dahlia". It should have been title "Josh Hartnett bangs everyone's girl / with brief appearances/mentionings of The unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short / aka: The Black Dahlia Murder" This film barely kept me awake and interested. I was hoping for a story based on the black dahlia murder, and what I got watching this movie was not it. This movie is more about "the lives of the people in L.A., and the L.A.P.D. in the 40's" ... and , seriously, the murder of Elizabeth Short is used more for a "back-story." As the previous reviewer noted, this movie has a poor ending. I wanted so much more out of this movie, but, I was completely let-down. Well, I guess I'll go and watch a movie where I know what to expect. Jackass 2 here I come !!!"