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critics consensus

Though this ambitious noir crime-drama captures the atmosphere of its era, it suffers from subpar performances, a convoluted story, and the inevitable comparisons to other, more successful films of its genre. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Two cops in 1940s Los Angeles investigate the murder of a Hollywood starlet (Mia Kirshner), and one (Aaron Eckhart) puts his marriage in jeopardy by obsessing over the crime, while the other (Josh Hartnett) becomes involved with a woman (Hilary Swank) from a prominent family, who happens to have an unsavory tie to the victim.

Cast & Crew

Josh Hartnett
Officer Dwight Bleichert
Aaron Eckhart
Sgt. Leland Blanchard
Hilary Swank
Madeleine Sprague
Mia Kirshner
Elizabeth Short
Mike Starr
Russ Millard
Fiona Shaw
Ramona Linscott
Kevin Dunn
Cleo Short
Troy Evans
Chief Green
John Kavanagh
Emmet Linscott
Vilmos Zsigmond
Cinematographer
Dante Ferretti
Production Designer
Johanna Ray
Casting Director
Danny Dimbort
Executive Producer
Trevor Short
Executive Producer
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News & Interviews for The Black Dahlia

Critic Reviews for The Black Dahlia

All Critics (195) | Top Critics (52) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (132)

  • You have to wonder just how vibrant the film would have been during the Reagan or Clinton administration, when De Palma was in his prime.

    March 24, 2007
  • Ghost World: Keith Uhlich on The Black Dahlia for Reverse Shot's Brian de Palma symposium.

    November 11, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Forty-five minutes in, I was already glancing at my watch and wondering why the only lively actress in this film was playing the dead girl. Go figure.

    September 30, 2006 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Ellroy's prose crawls into characters' secret hearts and under the reader's skin, but its foetid horrors become kitschy here, the script too streamlined and the lead performances too shallow to dredge the story's depths.

    September 23, 2006 | Full Review…
  • The pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.

    September 23, 2006 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Gorgeously realised, gripping and doused in De Palma's familiar technical wizardry.

    September 23, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Black Dahlia

  • Mar 11, 2017
    Confusing story, but pretty interesting I think. I like the noire style of the film.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2016
    The cinematography is undeniably beautiful, but there are about three different incoherent movies stuffed into this mess.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2013
    Let my first state my bias; I am a huge fan of James Ellroy. I think he is the finest American Noir Author, and have read several of his books. In addition, LA Confidential is probably in my Top 15 movies of all time.This movie looks great, but is hollow and problem plagued. The story about two LAPD partners investigating the Black Dahlia murder, while sharing a love for the same woman, stars Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart as the pugilistic partners.(Both are prizefighters, when not on the beat.) There is some chemistry between the actors, and I enjoyed the work of Eckhart, who unfortunately hasn't enough scenes. Hartnett, on the other hand, looks great, but the best you can say about his acting is that he looks great.The gorgeous Scarlett Johansson plays the lover of Eckhart, and the prospectivelover of Hartnett. She looks great, and does a good job of playing a woman in distress who is torn in who she really loves. Hillary Swank is very good as well, as the socialite suspect who seduces Hartnett .The best performance in very limited screen time is Mia Kirshner, who plays Elizabeth Short, the doomed Black Dahlia.The look of the film is great, but as I stated, I am a sucker from 1940's set pieces. The credit for that should go to Director Brian DePalma. Unfortunately, DePalma doesn't have much of a story to work with. The film has some plot holes and one of the main characters is not seen for the second half of the movie.Poor casting and a weak script make what could've been a classic, into a mundane movie experience.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2012
    From director Brian De Palma comes the noir thriller The Black Dahlia. Based on a novel, the story follows a pair of police detectives that are assigned to one of the notorious Black Dahlia murders of the 1940s, but the investigation uncovers their own dark secrets and starts to tear them apart. The cast is quite impressive, and includes Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, and Mia Kirshner. But the story is convoluted and overly complicated, full of needless twists and reveals. Additionally, the noir tone doesn't really work, as De Palma put style before substance. The Black Dahlia is an overly stylized and disjointed film that lacks focus.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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