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Who Is the Black Dahlia? (1975)

Dramatization of an actual homicide investigation. In 1947 Los Angeles, a police detective tries to solve the shocking and grisly murder of 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sgt. Harry Hansen
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Sgt. Finis Brown
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Capt. Jack Donahoe
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Bevo Means
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Dr. Wallace Coppin
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Police Matron (as Gloria De Haven)
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PX Manager
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Miles Harmonder
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Lee Jones
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Mrs. Fowler
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Grandmother
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Susan Winters
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Diane Fowler
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Traveling Salesman
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Storyline

Dramatization of an actual homicide investigation. In 1947 Los Angeles, a police detective tries to solve the shocking and grisly murder of 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, whose nude body was dumped in a lot after being bisected with surgical precision. The detective interviews people who knew Short, who was called "The Black Dahlia" because of the black outfits she wore. Written by <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Before he could hunt her killer, he had to learn who "The Black Dahlia" was - hard chick or easy mark...home girl or party girl!


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Details

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Release Date:

1 March 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le daliah noir  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lucie Arnaz accepted the role of Elizabeth Short over the strong objections of her mother Lucille Ball. See more »

Goofs

Arc lights reflected in door as Beth leaves bus station. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Harry Hansen: [standing over the mutilated corpse] Lady - what the hell could you do to make ANYBODY that mad?
See more »

Connections

Version of The Devil's Muse (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Real Life Film Noir
2 January 2005 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

"This is about a murder that really happened. Nobody made it up. As far as I know, there's never been another one before or since, quite like it --- ever!" Those ominous words, spoken in VO by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., open this 1975 docudrama that chronicles a real life murder mystery that has never been solved.

Elizabeth Short moved to California in the 1940's, in search of show-biz stardom. The fact that this beautiful young woman wore mostly black clothes to match her black hair led others to nickname her "The Black Dahlia". On January 15, 1947, her mutilated and exsanguinated body was found in a vacant field in Los Angeles. The homicide immediately created national interest. And in the fifty-plus years since her death, this unsolved murder has evolved into a major legend.

The screenplay for "Who Is The Black Dahlia?" is factual, well written, sensitive, and thankfully low-key. The story, told in flashbacks, is riveting. In one chilling scene, a man stands in a telephone booth and, with his back to the camera, conveys to the newsman on the other end of the line crucial details about the murder that only the killer could know. The man's face is never shown.

Playing the role of Elizabeth Short, Lucie Arnaz gives a credible and sympathetic performance. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. convincingly plays Sgt. Harry Hansen, the frustrated, lead detective. The support cast is equally effective. The film's music is appropriately downbeat and depressing.

Some viewers may find the plot to be slow. Certainly, the film's lack of in-your-face violence and gore will disappoint the tabloid crowd. But for thinking people, for viewers who can appreciate a thoughtful and insightful analysis of a horrible crime, I recommend this film most highly.

In the film's final VO, Sgt. Hansen reflects: "We never found anybody who saw Elizabeth Short the last six days of her life ... In Los Angeles police files, The Black Dahlia murder case is still open."


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