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The Black Dahlia (2006)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  15 September 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 61,429 users   Metascore: 49/100
Reviews: 641 user | 239 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

Two policemen see their personal and professional lives fall apart in the wake of the "Black Dahlia" murder investigation.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Det. Russ Millard
Dolph Bleichert
Emmett Linscott
Chief Ted Green
Morrie Friedman
Tomas Dos Santos
Capt. John Tierney (as Angus MacInnis)


In 1946, the former boxers Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert and Lee Blanchard are policemen in Los Angeles. Lee has a good relationship with his chief and uses a box fight between them to promote the department and get a raise to the police force. They succeed and are promoted to homicide detectives, working together. Bucky becomes a close friend of Lee and his girlfriend Kay Lake, forming a triangle of love. When the corpse of the aspirant actress 'Elizabeth Short (I)' is found mutilated, Lee becomes obsessed to solve the case called by the press Black Dahlia. Meanwhile, Bucky's investigation leads him to a Madeleine Linscott, the daughter of a powerful and wealthy constructor that resembles the Black Dahlia. In an environment of corruption and lies, Bucky discloses hidden truths. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Inspired by the most notorious unsolved murder in California history.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, some grisly images, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |



Release Date:

15 September 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La dalia negra  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£566,874 (UK) (15 September 2006)


$22,518,325 (USA) (20 October 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Amy Irving originally signed on for a small role, but Brian De Palma cut her role before filming eventually began. See more »


Cars are seen with 1945 an 1946 California front license plates - black and white with a white strip on top. In those years (and no other year), California only issued rear license plates due to wartime metal shortages. See more »


[first lines]
Ofcr. Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert: [voiceover] Mr. Fire versus Mr. Ice. For everything people were making it out to be, you'd think it was our first fight. It wasn't. And it wouldn't be our last.
See more »


Featured in No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008) See more »


Love for Sale
Written by Cole Porter
Performed and Produced by k.d. lang
Published by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP)
See more »

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User Reviews

De Palma Falters with So-So Take on Film Noir
15 September 2006 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

Dante Ferretti's set design beautifully evokes the 1940's; Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography enhances the period look; and the voice-over narration has been pulled from film-noir classics. While Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia" has much of the look and feel of Curtis Hanson's 1997 "L.A. Confidential," that far superior film boasted better performances and a well-written screenplay. Although both films were based on James Ellroy novels and both had complicated, involved plots, the Hanson film came together with satisfying logic. Unfortunately, De Palma's movie is equally if not more complex and leaves a few threads dangling or at least badly frayed.

Although loosely based on a famous Hollywood murder, "The Black Dahlia" spends more time than necessary in establishing the three-way partnership, if not ménage, between Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, and Aaron Eckhart. The leisurely pace allows viewers to ponder the last time that they saw a film with so many double letters in the stars' names. The trailer, which has played in theaters for weeks, was misleading, and the actual murder and resulting investigation do not begin until well into the film after we have witnessed boxing scenes between the police investigators, Hartnett and Eckhart, and some three-way flirtations that do little to advance the proceedings.

The film only becomes interesting when the campy upper crust Linscott family enters. Hilary Swank as Madeleine Linscott is a deadly femme in black and as fatale as they come. Fiona Shaw as her mother shamelessly steals scenes and chews the banisters in her few minutes on screen, and John Kavanagh as Emmet Linscott adds to the family's quirky personality. An entire film could have been constructed around the Linscotts that would have been far more interesting than the Hartnett-Johansson-Eckhart romance. Scarlett has little to do but purse her luscious red lips and look desirable in tight blouses, which she does quite well. Josh is all squinty-eyed intensity and muscled charm, which he does quite well. Aaron tries for more, but goes a bit over the top; perhaps he would have been more comfortable playing a cousin of the Linscotts.

Although "The Black Dahlia" is not the worst way to spend two hours, the film's pedigree would lead viewers to expect more. Only a week after the less-disappointing "Hollywoodland," De Palma's take on another old Hollywood mystery should have been riveting. All of the essentials were there, except possibly a seasoned troop of stars, for another "L.A. Confidential." Unfortunately, what arrived was a nearly indecipherable mystery within a tedious love triangle that was wrapped in multi-million dollar production values.

121 of 175 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Let's Start the 'Release 3-Hour Version of 'The Black Dahlia' Petition? IndianaBat
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the most badass boxing match! aciago
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