The Black Dahlia


The Black Dahlia

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.



Total Count: 193


Audience Score

User Ratings: 97,635
User image

Watch it now

The Black Dahlia Photos

Movie Info

A tale of obsession, love, corruption, greed and depravity that revolves around a true story of the brutal murder of a fledgling Hollywood starlet that shocked and fascinated the nation in 1947 and remains unsolved today. Two ex-pugilist cops, Lee Blanchard and Bucky Bleichert, are called to investigate the homicide of ambitious silver-screen B-lister Betty Ann Short -- aka 'The Black Dahlia' -- an attack so grisly that images of the killing were kept from the public. While Blanchard's growing preoccupation with the sensational murder threatens his marriage to Kay, his partner, Bleichert, finds himself attracted to the enigmatic Madeleine Linscott, the daughter of one of the city's most prominent families -- who just happens to have an unsavory connection to the murder victim.


Josh Hartnett
as Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert
Aaron Eckhart
as Lee Blanchard
Hilary Swank
as Madeleine Linscott
Mia Kirshner
as Elizabeth Short
Mike Starr
as Det. Russ Millard
Fiona Shaw
as Ramona Linscott
Patrick Fischler
as Deputy DA Ellis Loew
James Otis
as Dolph Bleichert
John Kavanagh
as Emmett Linscott
Troy Evans
as Chief Ted Green
Anthony Russell
as Morrie Friedman
Pepe Serna
as Tomas Dos Santos
Angus MacInnes
as Capt. John Tierney
Rachel Miner
as Martha Linscott
Victor McGuire
as Sgt. Bill Koenig
Gregg Henry
as Pete Lukins
Jemima Rooper
as Lorna Mertz
Rose McGowan
as Sheryl Saddon
Mike O'Connell
as Shore Patrol
John Solari
as Baxter Fitch
Stephanie L. Moore
as Baxter Fitch's Girlfriend
Stephanie Moore
as Baxter Fitch's Girlfriend
Noel Arthur
as Gunman #1
Todd Thomas
as Gunman #2
Steve Eastin
as Detective
Ian McNeice
as Coroner
Claudia Katz
as Frolic Bartender
Mia Frye
as Laverne Bartender
Richard Brake
as Bobby DeWitt
Bill Finley
as George Tilden
Joost Scholte
as Madeleine's GI
Alan Teo
as Friedman Tough Guy
Kiril Efremov
as Friedman's Tough Guy #2
k.d. lang
as Love for Sale Singer in Laverne's
Brian DePalma
as Voice of Film Producer
View All

News & Interviews for The Black Dahlia

Critic Reviews for The Black Dahlia

All Critics (193) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (130)

  • The pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

    Nathan Rabin

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Full Review…

    Ben Walters

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It only works in fits and starts and the grand climax is too Rocky Horror to be true, yet the heady redolence of a bygone era still proves seductive.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.

    Sep 23, 2006

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • This is far from one of the director's better efforts and should be avoided by all those who are not sworn De Palma boosters.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Mr. De Palma and his collaborators have been unable to translate Mr. Ellroy's depth of feeling into cinematic equivalents.

    Sep 20, 2006 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic

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

The Black Dahlia Quotes

News & Features