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THE BLACK DAHLIA
USA: Universal Studios
UK: Entertainment Film Distributors
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Mia Kirshner, Mike Starr, Fiona Shaw, Patrick Fischler, James Otis, John Kavanagh, Troy Evans, Anthony Russell, Pepe Serna, Angus MacInnes, Rachel Miner, Victor McGuire, Gregg Henry, Jemima Rooper, Rose McGowan, Dan Ponce, Graham Norris, Mike O'Connell, Michael Flannigan, Stephanie L Moore, Noel Arthur, Todd Thomas, Steve Eastin, Ian McNeice, Claudia Katz, Mia Frye, Richard Brake, Bill Finley, Joost Scholte, Fatso Fasano, Teo, Kiril Eframov, Petar Milchev
Director: Brian De Palma
Countries: USA / Germany
USA & UK: 120 mins
USA Rated: R for strong violence, some grisly images, sexual content and language
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong bloody violence, sex and one use of very strong language
USA Release Date: 15 September 2006
UK Release Date: 15 September 2006
UK DVD Release Date: 22 January 2007
Master storyteller Brian De Palma, known for such classic crime dramas as THE UNTOUCHABLES, SCARFACE and CARLITO'S WAY, as well as his suspense thrillers CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL and BLOW OUT, directs screenwriter Josh Friedman's (WAR OF THE WORLDS) adaptation of James Ellroy's (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, AMERICAN TABLOID) best-selling crime novel.
THE BLACK DAHLIA weaves a fictionalized tale of lust, love, corruption, greed and depravity around the brutal murder of fledgling Hollywood starlet Betty Short that shocked and fascinated the nation in 1947 and remains unsolved today.
In the film Betty Short (Mia Kirshner) lives in the heyday of post-World War II Los Angeles where corrupt politicians manipulate dirty cops, who help ruthless gangsters fund seedy filmmakers as they prey on young actresses desperately striving to find their place in a fantasy world.
Two ex-pugilist police officers, Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert (Josh Hartnett), are the poster boys for 1940's LAPD. The new partners' first homicide case starts with their supervisor, Detective Millard (Mike Starr), sending them to investigate the slaying of the ambitious silver screen B-lister Betty Short.
Blanchard and Bleichert, like the rest of the fascinated city, become drawn into the lurid world of the Dahlia's L.A. While Blanchard's growing preoccupation with the Dahlia's murder threatens his relationship with girlfriend Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), Bleichert finds himself irresistibly drawn to the enigmatic Madeleine Linscott (two-time Oscar® winner Hilary Swank), the daughter of one of the city's most prominent families, who just happens to have an unsavory connection (and resemblance) to the Dahlia.
Blanchard goes into overdrive obsessing about the case and trying to solve it, seeing in Betty the chance to redeem himself for letting down the other women in his life that he failed to protect. Meanwhile Bleichert begins to question his own footing as his feelings fluctuate wildly between two disparate women: the seemingly innocent Kay and the knowingly seductive Madeleine, whose unhinged mother, Ramona (Fiona Shaw), proves to hold more than a passing clue to the mystery.
Determined to be famous, destined to be infamous, Betty Short affected more lives dead than she possibly could alive. True crime meets urban legend with THE BLACK DAHLIA.
For almost 60 years, one story has captivated the horrified imagination of a city and inspired scores of newspaper, book and screenplay writers to ponder the dark, diabolical impulses of humanity. This cautionary tale has served as warning to wide-eyed starlets who come west to chase their dreams of Tinseltown. And it all began with an unremarkable girl hungry for stardom.
In life, she was called Elizabeth "Betty" Short, a 22 year-old aspiring actress from the East Coast who wore a delicate flower in her raven hair and became many things to many people—dear friend, beloved sister, estranged daughter, frequent girlfriend and accused prostitute.
On January 15, 1947, she was discovered brutally splayed in a vacant lot near Leimert Park in downtown Los Angeles. Naked, cut in half at the waist, her organs were removed and blood drained from her small body in an attack so grisly that most images were kept from the public. Her killer had bludgeoned her, sodomized her and had slit her mouth from ear to ear in a sickening, clownish grin. False accusations and confessions still abound, and Betty's remains one of the most gruesome, unsolved homicides in the City of Angels' history.
In death, she would become newly christened and forever remembered as The Black Dahlia.
Reality and fiction: The Story Of The Black Dahlia novelist James Ellroy gives his in depth perspective on The Black Dahlia crime.
The Case File: Behind the scenes with the filmmakers, actors and crew
The De Palma touch: A special look at Brian De Palma's unique and shocking style