Release Date 2006
Hilary Swank as Madeleine Linscott
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by Josh Friedman, James Ellroy
Cast Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Mia Kirshner
Genre Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
MPAA Rating R for strong violence, some grisly images, sexual content and language.
Available at Region 1
Based on a notorious, unsolved Los Angeles murder case, the central drama of this hard-boiled mystery set in the late 1940s begins when the body of Elizabeth Short, an engagingly beautiful and promiscuous woman in her 20s, is discovered in a vacant lot, cut in half, disemboweled and bearing evidence that she had been tortured for several days before dying.
Dubbed “The Black Dahlia” by the press, the victim becomes an obsession for two L.A.P.D. cops, narrator Bucky Bleichert and his partner, Lee Blanchard, both ex-boxers who also are best friends and in love with the same woman.
Despite a huge effort by the department, leads seem to go nowhere, and Bucky is mortified when he inadvertently helps to suppress evidencethe apparently innocuous fact that a woman he spends many nights with, casually bisexual Madeleine Sprague, daughter of a crooked real-estate tycoon, knew “the Dahlia” and slept with her once.
Bucky begins to fear for his future, but slowly and dangerously, he learns that his is one of the tamest crimes of corruption committed by the many people he knows. Building like a symphony, this is a complicated but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit, with the perfect setting of booming, postwar Los Angeles.
Trivia & Facts
• David Fincher had originally planned to direct and intended to make a three hour version shot entirely in black and white. Fincher subsequently left the project apparently because he doubted that he would be able to make the film exactly the way he envisaged.
• James Ellroy’s book was based in part on the true story of the murder of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress who’d moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s from Medford, Massachusetts. She never managed to break into films as she disappeared sometime around the beginning of January 1947. On 15 January 1947 her horribly mutilated corpse was found in an empty lot in South Central Los Angeles. Her murderer was never publicly identified or apprehended. More information about the case may be found at Beth Short .com.
• Mark Wahlberg had initially signed on to play Lee Blanchard opposite Josh Hartnett, but scheduling conflicts with the planned The Brazilian Job (2008) prevented him from taking part even though production on the Italian Job sequel was eventually pushed back.
• Maggie Gyllenhaal was offered the part of Elizabeth Short but turned it down.
• Brian De Palma met Rose McGowan a year before the filming of this movie, and offered her the role of Sherryl Saddon.
• James Horner was previously attached, before Mark Isham was hired to score the film.
• Brian De Palma offered the role of Madeleine Sprague to Eva Green but she turned down it because she didn’t want to be typecast as a “femme fatale” and the role went to Hilary Swank.
• Gwen Stefani was considered for the role of Kay Lake.
• The film opened the 63rd Venice Film Festival in 2006.
• Fairuza Balk was considered for the role of Madeleine Linscott.
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