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The Black Dahlia

Inspired by the most notorious unsolved murder in California history.  

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Black Dahlia

Director: Brian de Palma

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Scarlet Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank

Beautiful friendships start with the strangest things – like a staged fight between California's two most famous cops, “Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice”. They have those nicknames for a reason; Lee Blanchard (Eckhart) is the impassioned Mr. Fire, Dweight “Bucky” Bleichert (Hartnett) the cool and controlled Mr. Ice. The pair have a rapport, a strength that they draw from each other – and together with Blanchard's girlfriend Kay Lake (Johannsson), the good times are set to roll.

But the best things in life never last. In the summer of 1947, the mutilated body of failed actress Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner) is uncovered in an abandoned lot. Blanchard and Bucky are put on the team investigating her murder, digging through the layers of corruption at the heart of LA society. As Bucky becomes entwined with the rich heiress Madeleine Linscott (Swank), distant and yet beautiful, the case slowly consumes Blanchard.

As the past rises up on all sides and the present lurks in shadow, loyalties will be tested, and friendships stretched to breaking point. But if you can't trust the people you love, you have nothing.

A tangled web of love, lies, and obsession set in the ultra-cool 1940s, The Black Dahlia is a modern-day film noir. A sultry jazz soundtrack underpins a world of knife edges and bullet points, cut deals and hidden secrets. Everyone has something to hide, everyone has something to play for – and Bucky has to find out what before he loses it all.

The plot moves fast, the dialogue is quick and sharp, and the movie rewards an intelligent watcher. The characters are the most important element here, their motives and passions the force that drives the film onwards – and they don't disappoint. The relationship between Blanchard, Bucky and Kay is tangible and enthralling – when it begins to splinter, you'll wonder if anyone will be left to pick up the pieces.

The Black Dahlia is a dazzling story of loyalty and betrayal, love and lust, and the chilling grip of obsession.

Timothy Franklin

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)