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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. 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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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>

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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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1 March 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chi è Black Dahlia?  »

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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: [Voiceover as the last few hours Elizabeth Short was seen alive are reenacted] January 9th, 1947. Victim's following movements noted: Mayfair Hotel doorman said, identified subject came out of the hotel immediately. Walked away carrying black suitcase. Time: 4pm. Witness reports girl answering Elizabeth Short's description entered bus station; deposited black suitcase in locker, and left; time: 4:30pm. Subject returns to hotel at 5pm. Seen over next several hours, waiting. Waiting. Waiting for ...
[...]
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Connections

Version of True Confessions (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Good Film Noir
30 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

Who Is the Black Dahlia? (1975)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Sgt. Harry Hansen (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) and Sgt. Finis Brown (Ronny Cox) are called to an empty lot and when they arrive they locate a body that has been brutally mutilated and cut in half. The two start investigating who the body belongs to and it eventually leads them to a mysterious woman named Elizabeth Smart (Lucie Arnaz).

WHO IS THE BLACK DAHLIA? is an extremely entertaining and very interesting made-for-TV movie that manages to play like a wonderful film noir of the 50s while at the same time capturing the spirit of a 70s TV movie. The mystery surrounding Elizabeth Smart's death has led to countless theories over the decades so being able to watch one of the theories from 1975 is interesting when viewed today. The film manages to be highly entertaining from start to finish and offers up two different sides of the story.

The first side is that of the police. Through narration we hear from Hansen as he tries to solve the various mysterious surrounding the Smart character. The second portion of the film shows us various things about Smart from her deciding to leave her home in Maine, to getting kick out of her father's house as well as the various issues she had trying to break into show business. I'm not sure how accurate these personal stories can be but they're all told in an entertaining way. Of course, the mystery of who the killer is has yet to be solved but the film puts out there some interesting ideas.

The performances are all extremely good with Zimbalist having no problem carrying the film. He certainly fits the film noir detective and manages to hold your attention throughout. Arnaz is also good in the role of Smart and I thought Tom Bosely, Cox, June Lockhart, Donna Mills and Brooke Adams were good. WHO KILLED THE BLACK DAHLIA? works just fine as a mystery and it certainly helps build the story behind the actual case.


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