The Black Dahlia (Widescreen Edition)
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The movie is based on the James Ellroy novel of the same name, a highly fictionalized telling of Hollywood's most notorious unsolved murder case. On January 15, 1947, a young woman named Beth Short was found brutally slain - her body gruesomely dismembered and gutted - in a field in Los Angeles. The case became a cause celebre around the nation, with speculation rife as to the background of the victim and the identity of the perpetrator, but the actual killer was never found. The movie focuses on two fictional homicide detectives, played by Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, who, to varying degrees, become obsessed with the case. Their investigation leads them into the heart of a film noir maelstrom comprised almost exclusively of twisted psychosexual perverts and Tinsel Town sickos.
Thanks to Vilmos Zsigmond's fine cinematography and all the spiffy 1940's paraphernalia with which the costume designer and art directors have decked out the movie, "The Black Dahlia" is never anything but dazzling to look at, but in almost every other respect, the film is a monumental disappointment. Although the first half is relatively straightforward in its approach and style, by about the midway point, De Palma's trademark cinematic excesses - stilted dialogue, floridly staged action scenes, campy performances, and overemphatic music - begin to take over and the film becomes an incoherent mess.Read more ›
For all the rich texture of the monochromatic cinematography (so we'd know we're watching a modern film noir), all the posturing of SCARLETT JOHANSSON with her long cigarette holder, all the fake glamor of HILARY SWANK, and all the convoluted plot lines, it's hard to find a trace of the Elizabeth Short story here. And that's the film's main problem. Her story is really just background filler for some very complicated fictional characters and situations that exist outside the story of THE BLACK DAHLIA, a murder never actually solved.
While watching it unfold, I couldn't help thinking how much better this would have been as a gritty film noir back in the '40s in the sort of shimmering B&W photography that Michael Curtiz used for THE UNSUSPECTED--and with an actor like Humphrey Bogart as the lead detective with either Lauren Bacall or Lizabeth Scott as the femme fatale. And if they needed a brunette siren they could always use Marie Windsor. Hilary Swank really has done much better work elsewhere.
Furthermore, the story chosen from the James Elroy novel which does give a solution to the crime, is an absurd one that is not made even remotely believable by the creation of the Fiona Shaw character who seems to be existing in another movie--a farce. Nor is the narration spoken by Josh Hartnett--in a monotone that I found alienating--any help in explaining the twisted course of events.
DePalma missed the opportunity in bringing the Elizabeth Short story to the screen as stark drama in any way that makes sense.Read more ›
I am writing to assure you that this is not the case with the Black Dahlia. The emphasis in storyline is all wrong, the casting is puzzling and the acting similarly confused, the direction is not very inspired, and everything is all a bit too tired: rather than feeling classic, this movie feels rehashed, derivative, and just dull. There are a few visual moments here or there to savor and a few flashes of the darker side of the man who gave you Dressed to Kill, but then I think it would be hard for Brian de Palma to film over two hours and not produce some fleeting moments of eye candy or interest.
A major disappointment in truth and I really truly hoped everybody was wrong on this one, but they weren't.
It got a bad rap but is a better film than indicated though I will warn that some casual moviegoers will have a hard time following it.
The movie follows two ex boxer buddy cops (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) who both "love" the same woman (played by Scarlet Johansen). Said woman has a dark past and is married to the character played by Eckhart. You can imagine one of the paths that will manifest in this love triangle but I leave it to your imagination.
There is a true visual brilliance in this picture. Perhaps too much that the story gets put in the background at times. As there were complaints that this tale is convoluted one has to remember that this is a mystery with clue trails and red herrings are going to be obvious yet perhaps unsatisfying to some viewers. Perhaps one of the problems is that by the time the mystery is solved it doesn't feel "big" enough or emotionally moving enough to have a satisfying ending?
Still worth a look but this isn't as good as L.A. Confidential.
In addition to names already mentioned this also stars Hillary Swank and Mike Starr.
This just about broke even at the Box Office in comparison to its budget.
STORY/PLOTTING: B; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: B plus; NOIR ELEMENTS: B minus; CLUE TRAILS/RESULT: B; CINEMATOGRAPHy: B plus to A minus; WHEN WATCHED: mid October 2012 (streamed); OVERALL GRADE: B.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This film greatly exemplifies what I have discovered many years ago, which is: films that most people find not to their liking are films that I find great. Read morePublished 12 days ago by L
This was disappointing to watch. It's like running in circles with nowhere to go. SMH.Published 1 month ago by xGeorginax
I actually really enjoyed this movie and watch it over and over at times. I like the depiction of the era. Josh Hartnett is good in this type of show. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Cherilm93
one star isn't low enough.
this movie is supposed to be based on the most infamous unsolved murder case in California.
it's no wonder the murder was never solved. Read more
Typical Brian DePalma movie, gore, bizarre convoluted plot, horrible acting. he does it every time.... Read morePublished 3 months ago by jfd213
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