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


Brian De Palma


Josh Friedman (screenplay), James Ellroy (novel)
3,792 ( 149)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Josh Hartnett ... Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert
Scarlett Johansson ... Kay Lake
Aaron Eckhart ... Lee Blanchard
Hilary Swank ... Madeleine Linscott
Mia Kirshner ... Elizabeth Short
Mike Starr ... Det. Russ Millard
Fiona Shaw ... Ramona Linscott
Patrick Fischler ... Deputy DA Ellis Loew
James Otis ... Dolph Bleichert
John Kavanagh ... Emmett Linscott
Troy Evans ... Chief Ted Green
Anthony Russell ... Morrie Friedman
Pepe Serna ... Tomas Dos Santos
Angus MacInnes ... Capt. John Tierney (as Angus MacInnis)
Rachel Miner ... Martha Linscott


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 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. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In the earlier drafts, the Linscotts were written as the Spragues, the family name in James Ellroy's original novel. See more »


Elizabeth Short's police booking photo from 1943 uses the typeface Eurostile, which was created in 1951. 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.
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References Black Angel (1946) See more »


In the Mood
Written by Joe Garland (as Joseph C. Garland)
Used by Permission of Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc. (ASCAP)
See more »

User Reviews

Blah Dah La La La
15 September 2006 | by shadowycatSee all my reviews

Synapses didn't quite connect. Lovely and stylish looks. Something missing. Left me hungry.

Pretty film. Gorgeous styling, not just evoking, but recreating a noir genre and capturing an honest, studied essence of the Los Angeles of yore. Interesting, but the film captures Los Angeles more than 'Hollywood'; but at its core, we found that there was something essentially lacking in the composition of characters we are introduced to in this flick.

After much consideration, we've determined that while de Palma fans will love this picture, we found that in the end there was no redemption. All the loose threads tie up, but there is no sympathetic character, we don't care about anyone, and there is no overwhelming humanity we were able to relate to in any single character's story.

So we left the screening thinking yeah? Right? That was it? Since we didn't read the novel, we're not sure whether the film was true to it or not, but while the iconic Black Dahlia story is an enduring Hollywood mystery, it's somewhat secondary, symbolic and iconic in terms of its position in this film's story.

One great performance: Fiona Shaw as the rich man's wife. Genius. And Hillary Swank ain't half-bad as the femme fatale. But at the end of the day we found Josh Hartnett about 5 years too young for us to completely buy his story. We felt that he just didn't bring enough maturity to the table. Scarlett J. provides her standard issue intelligent-but-somehow- flatlining-blonde aesthetic, she's stunning as usual.

The art direction and color tones of this film were the stars as far as we were concerned. This film is totally artful, but still left us hungry. Not bad, but gosh darn, coulda been better. Ya know?

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USA | Germany | UK | Israel | Bulgaria


English | German

Release Date:

15 September 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Black Dahlia See more »

Filming Locations:

Bulgaria See more »


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,005,895, 17 September 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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