Monday, 1 June 2009

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy is an exquisitely written book of murder and obsession that takes the true details of the unsolved 1947 Elizabeth Short murder and creates a fictional story of a police detective determined to solve the case. The Black Dahlia is a page turning mystery novel, but it is also much more. Ellroy uses the story to delve into the dark recesses of the human psyche and force the reader to deal with obsession, evil, right and wrong.

Pro: Ellroy's writing is superb -- every word counts

The characters in The Black Dahlia are well developed and complex

The mystery surrounding Elizabeth Short's murder makes a good story

Lots of plot twists and turns make The Black Dahlia a good mystery novel
Con: Graphic murder descriptions & sex make this inappropriate for younger readers
DescriptionFact: On January 15, 1947 the mutilated, severed body of Elizabeth Short was found Los AngelesFact: Elizabeth Short's murder is one of the highest profile unsolved cases in California history:The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy uses facts from the case to create a story of mystery & obsession

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy - Book Review

James Ellroy's Black Dahlia is a masterpiece among murder mystery novels. Ellroy tells Elizabeth Short's story through Bucky Bleichert, a young police officer who is assigned to investigate the Black Dahlia murder. Over time, Bucky becomes obsessed with learning all the details of Elizabeth Short's life. His obsession resurrects old demons and forces him to deal with hard truths in every relationship that matters to him. Bucky's fascination with the murder is contagious, and as a reader I found myself wanting to know more about the true Elizabeth Short and the fictional version of her in the book. I had to read on to find out what would happen, but even after I had finished the book the Black Dahlia kept creeping into my mind.
The Black Dahlia is, however, Bucky's story as much as Elizabeth's. Bucky is a flawed protagonist who does things that no "good guy" would ever do, yet manages to be a hero who you want to win. Bucky's obsession takes him to the edge of madness, and Ellroy takes the reader along on that journey. Along the way we get to experience the seedy underside of post-World War II Hollywood, a place full of violence, sex and dishonesty.
The Black Dahlia is not light reading, but it is good reading. It will entertain and intrigue anyone daring enough to pick up the book and enter Ellroy's world.
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy is an exquisitely written book of murder and obsession that takes the true details of the unsolved 1947 Elizabeth Short murder and creates a fictional story of a police detective determined to solve the case. The Black Dahlia is a page turning mystery novel, but it is also much more. Ellroy uses the story to delve into the dark recesses of the human psyche and force the reader to deal with obsession, evil, right and wrong.
The Black Dahlia is a neo-noir crime novel by American author James Ellroy, taking inspiration from the true story of the murder of Elizabeth Short. It is widely considered to be the book that elevated Ellroy out of typical genre fiction status, and with which he started to garner critical attention as a serious writer of literature. The Black Dahlia is the first book in Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, a cycle of novels set in 1940s and 1950s Hollywood, which is portrayed as a hotbed of corruption and depravity. The Quartet continues with The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz.


The Road to Partnership Set during the inter-war and post World War II years in Los Angeles, Officer Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert is a former boxer and a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. The prologue segment begins during the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 where Bleichert comes to the rescue of Officer Lee Blanchard, who is caught up in the middle of the rampage between American servicemen and Mexican zoot suit gangs. They apprehend a wanted criminal and take refuge in an abandoned home while waiting out the riot. Here they size each other up as boxers and cops. Afterwards Bleichert reflects on how Blanchard is eventually promoted to Sergeant while he continues his mundane job as a radio car patrolman in the Bunker Hill section of L.A.

Fire and Ice

In November of 1946 Bucky is offered a promotion if he agrees to an inter-departmental boxing match against Lee in hopes it will help raise support for a political bond issue increasing pay for the LAPD but with a slight tax increase. After realizing that his fathers' health is failing and in need of constant care he decides to take up the offer. Bucky also meets Kay Lake, a former artist who lives with Lee, and the two form a relationship. After the fight he is transferred to Warrants Officer as a reward and partnered with Lee Blanchard. Although Bucky shows interest in Kay he doesn't proceed further due to his friendship with Lee.
39th and Norton On January 15th, 1947 while Bucky and Lee are on a stakeout they see a commotion on the corner lot of 39th street and South Norton Avenue. There they witness the discovery of the mutilated body of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short. Dubbed "The Black Dahlia" by the press the case shocks the public and overwhelms the LAPD, hitting Lee especially hard. Meanwhile, Bucky feels that the large number of detectives and policemen on the case are adequate, and requests reassignment back to Warrants but the request is denied by Ellis Lowe, Deputy Los Angeles D.A. Acting on a hunch while canvassing for clues he meets the mysterious and alluring Madeleine Sprague, a wealthy and promiscuous socialite who resembles the Dahlia. Bucky soon makes a proposition to Madeleine who agrees to a relationship and in return Bucky suppresses a potential connection to the Dahlia. While the case rolls on, Lee, becoming more and more detached, begins to act erratically, and eventually disappears after a confrontation with their superiors and with Bucky.
While simultaneously juggling a relationship with Kay, Madeleine, and looking for Lee, Bucky works closely with Russell Millard, an immediate superior and a honest cop with a genuine heart to find the killer of Beth Short. Under pressure from Ellis Loew, Bucky is temporarily paired with veteran detective Fritz Vogel, a brutal and self-serving cop also on the case. However, Bucky intentially blows his assignment with Vogel and is retaliated against by Loew. In an act of revenge Bucky uncovers a scandal involving Fritz and some evidence he was suppressing. This results in him being sent back to the grind of foot patrolman in a dangerous section of South Central L.A. He then breaks up with Madeleine.
After the incident with Vogel Bucky sets out for Tijuana searching for Lee. Upon his return he only then marries Kay.
Kay and Madeleine Two years pass, and with Bucky's detective career destroyed he transfers to S.I.D and becomes a lab technician. While working on the QT with Russ Millard he begins dwelling on the murder of Elizabeth Short after uncovering some overlooked clues and people associated with her. However, his marriage ends up in jeopardy after a suicide investigation of a wealthy businessman piques his curiosity about the Sprague family. He quickly reignites his relationship with Madeleine Sprague. He also develops a deeper obsession with Beth Short and her murder.
Elizabeth With his marriage to Kay in ruins, and the uncovering of more clues Bucky finally discovers who is responsible for the murder of Elizabeth Short. The novel ends with possible hope for Bucky's future with Kay.

Film adaptation

The Black Dahlia was adapted for a film by director Brian De Palma in 2005 and released in 2006. It was, however, a critical and commercial failure, with the consensus being that it had been poorly made, acted and at times appeared incoherent. The latter fault may have been caused by DePalma's drastic editing of the finished product, which initially ran for three hours and eventually cut down to two.


James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia is a fictionalized account of the real life murder of Elizabeth Short. Short’s body was found in an abandoned field near the famous Hollywood sign on January 15, 1947. Despite a long and public investigation, the murder remains unsolved to this day. It is one of the most famous unsolved cases in American history.
The novel follows Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert, an officer known more for his prowess in the boxing ring than his ability to uphold the law. He becomes partners with Lee Blanchard, a well-known and respected officer who is rising quickly in the police department. Bucky learns quickly at the hands of the more experienced Lee. He also falls in love with Lee’s live-in girlfriend, Kay Lake, a woman Lee met when he arrested and testified against her ex-boyfriend.
While investigating another crime, Bucky and Lee are among the first officers to respond when the body of Elizabeth Short is found. She has been mutilated and cut in half. Also, her mouth has been slashed open from ear to ear. Bucky and Lee are transferred to the case, and Lee becomes obsessed with finding the killer. His sister was murdered when he was a child, and Bucky believes Lee’s unwavering focus on the case is a result. Bucky instantly wants to be off the case, but in compromise he promises Lee one week on the case.
The investigation uncovers many unsavory details about Elizabeth, who was known by many aliases. Elizabeth was a liar who used men for her own ends and was obsessed with becoming a Hollywood star despite her lack of talent. Betty, as she was more commonly known, also appeared in a pornographic movie. However, all evidence that painted Betty in a questionable light was swept under the rug by the Assistant District Attorney, who wanted to find the killer of the "innocent" Betty in order to further his future political career.
Bucky remains on the case for months, despite the disappearance of his partner. He becomes involved in the conspiracy to hide evidence when he engages in an affair with Madeleine Sprague, a Black Dahlia look alike, in exchange for making certain her name remains out of the investigation. Bucky and the other officers investigate thousands of leads; however, none lead to the capture of the murderer.
Bucky is eventually taken off the case, but his obsession with the murder victim permeates all aspects of his life, including his marriage. Bucky investigates the murder even when he is off duty. His marriage suffers and eventually dissolves as he becomes further and further enmeshed in the life and murder of Elizabeth Short.
Eventually, Bucky’s investigation leads him to a bungalow in Hollywood, where it appears the investigation comes to an end. However, the haunting image in a painting leads Bucky to uncover a larger conspiracy, one in which he serves as an unwitting participant. The real killer is someone Bucky never suspected, and the conspiracy to conceal the killer’s connection to Betty could cost Bucky his career.

The Black Dahlia Major Characters

Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert

The narrator Police officer investigating the Black Dahlia case Partner of Lee Blanchard A former boxer

Lee Blanchard

Bucky’s partner, Kay’s boyfriend A boxer Addicted to Benzedrine Obsessed with the Dahlia case because of his sister’s murder Gets murdered in Mexico

Kay Lake

Former girlfriend of a convict arrested by boyfriend Lee Marries Bucky

Ellis Loew

Assistant District Attorney with political ambitions Covers up evidence of Betty Short’s affairs Elizabeth Short

The Black Dahlia, murder victim Known by many alias, led a questionable life

Madeleine Sprague

Looks like Elizabeth Short and knew her in life Becomes involved with Bucky in exchange for him keeping her name out of the investigation

Russ Millard

Bucky and Lee’s supervisor, in charge of the Dahlia investigation

Chapter Summaries

Prologue Bucky Bleichert, the narrator, meets his partner, Lee Blanchard, when they are boxing opponents. Blanchard has the reputation of a hero, and Bleichert has the reputation of a snitch.
Bleichert is sent to control a riot. He looks around at the fighting, and then runs down an empty residential street. An old man tells him he is the second police officer to run away. He runs into Blanchard, who is fighting off four men. One of the men is Tomas Dos Santos, who is the subject of an all points fugitive warrant. Blanchard cuffs Dos Santos to himself
Blanchard tells Bleichert he ran away from the riot because he knew there was nothing he could do. The three men spend the night in an empty house. They talk about each other’s reputations. Blanchard was an up and coming officer with friends in high places until he lost them. He also lives with the ex-girlfriend of a man he arrested, which is in violation of the police code. Still, Blanchard plans to be promoted quickly. Blanchard suggests he and Bleichert could be partners someday. In the morning, Blanchard brings Dos Santos in and Bleichert goes back to the station.
Section One: Fire and Ice

Chapter One Three years later, Blanchard is working in Warrants. His partner is leaving, and Bucky is up for the promotion. Working in the Warrants Department means working with the District Attorney’s office and investigating real crimes instead of handing out traffic tickets.
The District Attorney likes to hire officers who have good boxing records and wants to hire Vogel, the son of a friend in the Detective Bureau. Bucky knows that his promotion hinges on his next fight, and trains until he qualifies as a light heavyweight, a safer division.
Chapter Two Bucky is on the job when he is called to report to the Chief of Detectives. When he arrives at City Hall, the room is filled with officials. Lee Blanchard is also there.
He is instructed to read an editorial in the newspaper titled “Fire and Ice among LA’s Finest”. The article is about Bucky (Ice) and Lee (Fire), but is written in support of a bond to upgrade police equipment and provide an 8% pay raise.
The bond will fail this year, but could be successful next year if they can generate enough good publicity for the department. The officials want Bucky and Lee to box ten rounds. This will generate publicity. If Bucky wins the fight, he will get the promotion.
Bucky spots Lee outside City Hall talking to Kay Lake, Lee’s girlfriend. She is not in favor of the match because she is afraid Bucky will hurt Lee, but Lee promised to buy her a car with the money he is paid for the fight.
Chapter Three The fight sells out within 24 hours and publicity is high. A song about the match is written and played on the radio. Bucky and Lee are local celebrities.
Bucky trains hard for the match until he sees his father. Bucky’s father is not mentally well. He has had several strokes which have caused him to forget English. His father can only speak German and is associated with a pro- Nazi group. Bucky blames his father for his mother’s death.
Bucky liquidates his savings and has a friend bet on Lee to win the fight. He plans on using the winnings to put his father in a rest home.
Kay flirts with Bucky at the gym. He asks why she and Lee never married. She says they can’t, but does not go into details, except for telling Bucky that she doesn’t sleep with Lee.
Bucky does some research on Kay and Lee. He discovers Lee’s nine year old sister was killed when he was fourteen.
Chapter Four Bucky still intends to take the dive, but changes his mind during the match. Bucky fights to win the promotion, but loses in an eighth round KO.
Bucky gets ten days off duty to heal. He and his friend collect his winnings and places his father in a rest home.
Lee visits Bucky and offers him the job in Warrants. The bond issued passed, and the promotion is a reward.
Chapter Five Bucky arrives early on his first day. He is welcomed, both because of the fight and his work to get everyone the pay raise. Loew, the A.D.A., is not happy about Bucky getting the job over his friend’s son. He warns Bucky not to blow this opportunity.
Detective Vogel does not welcome Bucky. In fact, Vogel gets in trouble for working too closely with the District Attorney.
Lee tells Bucky he quit fighting when Benny Siegel, the gangster, started putting heat on him. Lee and Siegel became friends when Lee helped Siegel recover stolen money.
The men are looking to arrest Maynard, a child rapist. Bucky and Lee talk to Mrs. Albanese, the wife of a criminal who knows Maynard. She refuses to give up information, and Lee threatens to play Russian roulette with her dog. She tells them where her husband Bruno is working.
Bruno refuses to give out information until his face is smashed into a plate of food by Lee. He gives them Maynard’s address. Maynard is not home, but the officers now have the make, model, and license number of Maynard’s car.
Bucky arrests Maynard. Back at the station, Lee finds out Bobby De Witt, Kay’s criminal ex-boyfriend, will be paroled.
Bucky, Lee, and Kay quickly become friends, spending all their free time together in the fall of 1946. Bucky begins to fall in love with Kay.
As partners, Bucky and Lee work well together, especially in the interrogation room. Bucky notices Lee pops pills and tends to be overly aggressive. However, Bucky becomes a better cop because of what Lee teaches him.
On New Year’s Eve, Kay tells Bucky she loves him. Bucky does not have a chance to reply.
Chapter Six Bucky and Lee are called to the D.A.’s office to find and arrest Nash, a rapist. He also pistol-whipped an old lady during a robbery. The woman later died.
Bucky and Lee get into a gun fight while searching hoodlums. Lee kills two men during the fight.
Bucky and Lee are questioned about the incident, but since all the deceased are known drug dealers, no further investigations are pursued.
Lee has a rough time dealing with what happened. He takes off on his motorcycle, leaving Bucky with Kay. Kay says Lee is scared because Bobby said he would kill Lee when he gets out of prison.
Bucky sees Kay in the shower. She has knife scars criss-crossing her back.

Section Two: 39th and Norton

Chapter Seven Lee calls Bucky and wakes him with a tip about Nash. Bucky meets Lee an apartment building where Nash is renting a place. Nash hasn’t been there in a week. They enter the apartment and find nothing. Bucky sees a group of police officers staring at something in the weeds outside.
Bucky runs outside and sees the coroner and the photo car and knows this is a serious crime scene.
Bucky sees the nude, mutilated body of a young woman. She has been cut in half at the waist. The lower half of her body lay several feet away, legs wide open. Flaps of skin have been cut from her body and her organs have been removed. Her entire body has been slashed, her nose smashed into the facial cavity, and her mouth has been cut from ear to ear.
The police decide to limit the information released about the crime and are sworn to secrecy. Reporters are not allowed near the body or near the crime scene. There is no visible blood at the crime scene. After the coroner takes the body, police canvass the area, talking to everyone they see.
Lee is insistent on investigating the crime, even though they are not Homicide. Bucky believes this is because of Lee’s sister. Lee is determined to get the murderer.
Chapter Eight Bucky walks into the station, which is in chaos. Reporters are in Loew’s office for a press conference. He tells the reporters that Lee and Bucky have been put on the case. Bucky discovers Lee got them transferred on the case after arranging surveillance on Nash. Lee asks Bucky for one week.
The newspaper calls the murderer a werewolf, which puts pressure on the D.A. and police to find the killer. They have no leads. The girl was placed in the field after being killed somewhere else. They also do not know the victim’s identity.
Bucky and Lee witness the victim’s autopsy. During the procedure, they receive word the victim has been identified. She is Elizabeth Ann Short.
Loew is outside the hospital giving another press conference. The police have received eighteen confessions, all from crazy people attracted to the sensational nature of the crime.
Bucky and Lee go to question Elizabeth’s father, who is not distressed or emotional about his daughter’s death. He offers an alibi. He and “Betty” were not close and had not spoken for years. He says his daughter was man-crazy and wore all black.
Lee asks Bucky to check on Kay. Kay tells Bucky she has had a crush on him since the first time she saw him fight. She asks if there is a future for the two of them. Bucky tells Kay that Lee has done a lot for him.
The morning newspaper gives Elizabeth the name “The Black Dahlia” and portrays her as a man hungry tramp.
Chapter Nine Reporters swarm the station. Bucky demands to be taken off the case, but Loew refuses.
Bucky reviews the file compiled by Russ Millard. Elizabeth had no alcohol or drugs in her system when she died. She has a history of lying and dating servicemen. The last known boyfriend is a man named Red. Police are trying to locate and interview him.
Bucky goes with Bill Koenig to talk to the victim’s neighbors. Lee is passed out on a bench because his pills have worn off.
They talk to the landlady first who says “Beth” was an awful tenant because she was late with the rent. Her apartment has private steps, so she didn’t have to come through the front door. She didn’t see men with her, but heard noises at all hours of the night.
They talk to a girl named Sheryl, who tells them Betty had too many boyfriends and was a liar. Betty lied so much she had trouble keeping her lies straight. She would tell people her father was dead, then the next day, talk about her father. One time, Betty claimed to have worked on a movie. Sheryl did not know the name of the movie, but saw that Betty had an expensive viewfinder she was showing the other girls.
Bucky and Koenig drive to another house. Koenig takes Hal and Don, two men who dated Betty. Bucky interviews Marjorie who says Betty used people and borrowed money. She did anything to be liked and took on the mannerisms of those around her. Betty was in a movie and showed the viewfinder to get attention. She told one person the movie was for Paramount, and told another person the movie was for Fox. Marjorie also says Betty may have been a lesbian involved with an older woman and had a girlfriend named Linda Martin, who lives there as well.
Bucky enters Linda’s apartment. Linda is gone. Bucky finds her identification, stating her name is Lorna Martilkova and is fifteen years old.
Bucky issues an all-points juvenile warrant on Linda. He calls the Screen Actor’s Guild and learns that Elizabeth has not been in any legitimate movie. He also interviews women at lesbian bars, but doesn’t find any leads.
Chapter Ten Robert “Red” Manley is brought in for questioning by Millard. He admits to dating Betty, but she led him on. He drove her to LA six days before her death.
Bucky goes out on his own because he can’t find Lee. After getting no leads, he drives to the house and finds Kay dumping LAPD documents about the murder on the front lawn. Lee took copies home against orders.
Bucky follows up with Madeleine Sprague, a woman he met at a lesbian bar. She says she met Betty and Linda last fall. Bucky makes a date with her for the following night.
Chapter Eleven Bucky picks up Madeleine at her father’s mansion. Her father is a Hollywood tycoon. They have dinner with her family.
After dinner, he and Madeleine drive to a motel and have sex. She says she did not tell Bucky the whole truth before. She tells him she hunted Betty down because she heard Betty looked just like her.
Chapter Twelve Millard sends Bucky and Lee to Encino to look for Linda, but Bucky can’t find Lee. He goes with Fritzie and Johnny Vogel and brings her into the station for questioning. Millard and Bucky question Linda about Betty. She tells them to call her Lorna, her real name. She tells the she and Betty made a dirty movie together. This is where Betty got the viewfinder. Lorna is held in a private cell.
The movie is screened and Lee loses his temper, shocking everyone. He runs out of the room. Bucky chases Lee across town. Loew takes Lee off the case, but Bucky is ordered to stay on.
Chapter Thirteen Lee does not report in the next day as expected.
Bucky checks the file to make sure Madeleine is not named. He calls her and they have sex again. She confesses she had sex with Betty once and he leaves her.
Bucky and Lee get into a fight at the station. Bucky wins.
Chapter Fourteen Bucky goes to the house to talk with Lee. Kay says Lee left yesterday and her ex is out of jail. Kay tells Bucky not to come back tonight unless he plans on sleeping with her. He tells her that is not possible. She tells him he is scared.
The Chief of Detectives asks Bucky to explain Lee’s actions. Lee is suspended. Bucky discovers Bobby, Kay’s ex, has not checked in with his parole officer. He bought a ticket to Tijuana.
Lee is also in Tijuana, supposedly investigating the man who made the dirty movie. Earlier, Lorna told the truth- the man who made the movie lives in LA. Bucky decides to go to Tijuana to straighten things out.
Chapter Fifteen Loew, Vogel, and Koenig are also in Tijuana. Bobby is in a Mexican prison. Bucky is slammed into the bars by Bobby and knocked out. When Bucky wakes up, Bobby is dead. He wonders if he did it, but is told he is innocent.
Chapter Sixteen Lee is still missing and the police are looking for him. Bucky is questioned, but does not tell about Lee’s drug usage. They ask if he thinks Lee killed Bobby and why Lee is running.
Bucky goes to the hotel room Lee is using to store the documents on the Black Dahlia. It is a shrine to her. Bucky places personal ads in the papers, asking Lee to meet him at the hotel.
Chapter Seventeen Bucky types a formal request for a transfer back to Warrants.
A letter constructed of letters clipped from newspapers arrives at the station. It contains Betty’s address book, social security card, and photos. Pages are ripped out of the book and soaked in gasoline, making further testing impossible.
Bucky knows his request will be denied and tears it up.
Chapter Eighteen No leads come from the letter. Bucky partners with Fritzie Vogel and the two men work well together.
Kay gets a teaching job but continues to give Bucky the cold shoulder. He sees Madeleine more often. Madeleine lets him pretend she is Betty.
Chapter Nineteen Bucky believes Lee is still in Mexico. Lee will be fired if he does not show up soon,
Another letter arrives at the station containing a picture of a short man in a suit. His face has been scratched out.
Chapter Twenty Millard and Bucky travel to Fort Dix to question Joseph Dulange, an officer who claims he killed Betty when he was in LA. He rambles quite a bit, but does give some details about the murder. He tells the he killed her in a room at the Havana Hotel. The hotel room is checked, but is clean of blood and has no running water. Dulange later admits he made the story up.
Chapter Twenty-one Loew offers to send Bucky back to warrants if he interviews four suspects. Bucky and Fritzie conduct the interview. Fritzie brings in a body and tells the suspects to cut the body. He then starts beating the suspects. Bucky pulls the fire alarm and runs away. He has sex with Kay.
Chapter Twenty-two Bucky is demoted to beat cop and breaks up with Madeleine. He begins to see Kay on a regular basis, but still dreams of Betty. Kay gets a letter from the police department informing her Lee is fired.
Chapter Twenty-three Bucky sees a connection between Fritzie and Johnny Vogel and Charles Michael Isler, a pimp who calls Elizabeth “Liz” when interviewed. He asks Millard to investigate all three. Bucky breaks into both Vogel homes and finds evidence Fritzie is hiding evidence about the case and a women named Sally Stinson. He also finds evidence of extortion.
Bucky and Millard interview Sally who turned tricks with Betty. She was paid by Fritzie to have sex with Johnny. They see Betty, and Johnny had sex with her too. Fritzie threatened her to keep quiet.
Russ injects Johnny with truth serum and Johnny confesses to knowing Betty, his father’s involvement, and the cover-up. Johnny is arrested.
Bucky is put on two weeks leave after Fritzie kills himself and will be assigned to another division. He is now seen as a traitor by the other officers.
Chapter Twenty-four Bucky heads to Tijuana to find Lee and gets a tip he is in Ensenada. A bar owner tells him Lee was there a few months ago. A private investigator tells Bucky Lee paid two men to kill Bobby. Lee was killed with an axe, but no one knows who killed him. He digs up Lee’s body and runs when he sees the decay.
Kay tells Bucky she knew Lee before the trial. He planned the robbery with three other men and set up Bobby. Bobby threatened to tell of Lee’s involvement. The men shot by Bucky and Lee were the other men involved in the robbery.
Bucky marries Kay and promises to drop the case.
Section Three: Kay and Madeleine Chapter Twenty-five Bucky becomes an evidence technician.
One day, he finds two thousand dollars Lee left under the floorboards and burns the money. Their marriage suffers.
Chapter Twenty-six Bucky sees a picture at a suicide investigation and is reminded of Elizabeth Short. He returns to talk to the wife about the Spragues, Madeleine’s family. Madeleine’s father was involved in crooked construction deals and Madeleine’s mother is mentally disturbed. She thinks this is why Madeleine turned out the way she is.
Chapter Twenty-seven Bucky begins watching the Sprague house. One night, Madeleine sees him, and Bucky drives away.
Bucky returns home and he and Kay apologize to each other. They go to bed, but Bucky can tell she is faking. She knows he is thinking of Betty.
Chapter Twenty-eight Bucky follows Madeleine’s car one night. Madeleine is dressed up like Betty, hanging out at a bar. He follows her and a sailor to a hotel, where he watches them go to their old room. He does this for four nights. He starts taking the same pills Lee took.
Bucky asks to be transferred to a beat. While working one night, he calls Madeleine and is invited over. She opens the door dressed as Betty, and he reaches for her.
Section Four: Elizabeth Chapter Twenty-nine Madeleine and Bucky have a torrid affair for a month. She says she dressed as the Dahlia to win Bucky back. She changes back to her old look once he is hers.
Chapter Thirty Kay leaves Bucky. She had detectives follow Bucky, and she knows about Madeleine. She is disgusted because Madeleine looks just like The Dahlia.
Bucky trashes the house and goes to the hotel room Lee filled with evidence on Betty. He picks up a hooker, makes her wear a Dahlia-style wig. She panics and runs when she sees the evidence.
Chapter Thirty-one Bucky flies to Boston to investigate Betty’s past. He learns Betty had a blind friend. He tells Bucky she was good at writing. He also tells Bucky that Betty was raped when she was sixteen. When she went to the doctor, she was told she could never have children. She thought if she slept with enough servicemen, she would get pregnant.
Chapter Thirty-two Bucky returns to LA and investigates doctors again. He also decides to interview Buzz Meeks, who admits to lying before about his relationship with Betty. He says he doesn’t know who killed her. He does tells Bucky that Betty auditioned for four movie execs, but they laughed at her and told her she could have a part if she serviced them. She left angry. Bucky asks why Meeks never came forward, but is told Loew told him to keep quiet because all of the men had legitimate alibis.
Bucky gets a call from Madeleine, but he says he can’t see her.
Bucky checks the phone records from Betty’s hotel room and gets the numbers for four doctors. One of the doctors is named Roach, which is a link from Dulange’s story years ago. This doctor lost his license for selling drugs.
Roach claims he was in San Francisco when the murder occurred. During interrogation, he admits he examined Betty for Dulange. She used his phone and called someone named Marcy. Betty then left, saying she had a date.
Bucky connects Emmett Sprague, Madeleine’s father to Betty’s dirty movie. He learns the movie was shot in Hollywood, not Mexico.
One of the bungalows built by Sprague is found, bloodstained. The walls are covered with pictures of crippled and disfigured women and pornographic images. A mattress is caked in blood. Bucky notices a blood spattered anatomy book next to the mattress. Bucky takes dark hair samples, strands of rope, fingerprints, and a boot print as evidence. One print appears identical to Betty’s. He also takes a blood stained baseball bat.
Bucky believes George Tilden killed Betty after being fixed up with her at the Sprague house and confronts Madeleine and her father. They are in bed together, and Bucky is told George is actually Madeleine's biological father. Emmett Sprague tells Bucky that George’s father was an anatomist. George used to like to touch the discarded organs as a child.
George saw Betty when the dirty movie was made and became obsessed because she looked like Madeleine. George demanded to meet Betty or he would tell everyone Madeleine was his daughter. Betty called Madeleine from Dr. Roach’s office and came over. Betty left with George, but never came back for her purse. Madeleine paid Linda to say the movie was filmed in Mexico. Her sister was responsible for the letters.
Bucky intends to kill George. He finds George. His bungalow is filled with jars of organs and a written account of the killing. He finds a flap of skin with a tattoo floating in it. The tattoo says “Betty and Major Matt”. George attacks Bucky with scalpels, but Bucky shoots him.
Chapter Thirty-three Bucky tells Millard everything, who says the case has to remain open, otherwise Bucky will be fired. They burn the house down.
Madeleine’s sister tells Bucky that Lee took money from her father to leave town. A woman picked up the money. Bucky shows her Kay’s picture, and Martha identifies her.
Bucky confronts Kay about the money. Lee knew who killed Betty and said he would get George after taking care of Bobby. Kay knew the identity the entire time, but never told Bucky because she wanted revenge.
Chapter Thirty-four Bucky begins to wonder if he and Lee were set up by Sprague to kill George. He begins to watch the family again.
Bucky visits Jane Chambers and sees the painting again. He learns the painting was sold to the Chambers by Ramona, Sprague’s wife. He recognizes the writing on the receipt as the writing on the confession. Ramona killed Betty.
Ramona confesses to the murder, saying she followed George and Betty to the bungalow. She and George tortured Betty for two days before killing her.
Bucky follows Madeleine to the hotel. She tells the man she is with she killed Lee in Mexico. Bucky arrests Madeleine.
Chapter Thirty-five Madeleine tells a gossip magazine about her affair with Bucky and he is fired. He learns Kay left town.
Madeleine is sentenced to ten years in a state hospital.
Chapter Thirty-six Bucky receives two letters from Kay, who is living near Boston. She is expecting their child.
Bucky sells the house and flies to Boston.
Chapter Thirty-seven Bucky decides to be honest with Kay and try to rebuild their life together.


The Black Dahlia is a 2006 crime film directed by Brian De Palma, director of Scarface and The Untouchables. It is based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy, writer of L.A. Confidential, which was based on the murder of Elizabeth Short. The Black Dahlia had its world premiere as the opening film at the 63rd Venice Film Festival on August 30. The film's wide release was on 15 September 2006.
The movie was originally in pre-production with David Fincher attached as director and Mark Wahlberg attached to play Lee Blanchard. Wahlberg was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with the planned filming of The Brazilian Job. Fincher originally envisioned "a five-hour, $80-million mini-series with movie stars."[1]
When De Palma became director, he replaced Wahlberg with Aaron Eckhart shortly before shooting began in April 2005.[2]
This film was shot in Los Angeles, California and in Pernik, Bulgaria, at an estimated cost of $50 million. Filming took place largely in Bulgaria, no doubt as a cost-saving measure and because of producer Boaz Davidson's ties to production facilities in the country. Only a handful of exterior scenes were filmed in Los Angeles.
James Horner was originally on board the project to score the film's music but in February, 2006 it was reported that Mark Isham had replaced him.[2]


The film follows two detectives in 1940s Los Angeles as they investigate the murder of Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner), nicknamed by the press as the Black Dahlia. In a subplot, the two detectives, Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), are caught in a love triangle with Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson). Blanchard and Bleichert become obsessed with the murder and it gradually consumes their lives, plunged into the depths of an urban underworld rife with pornography, femmes fatales, corrupt police and depraved criminals, a graphic and bloody trail to the solution of the Black Dahlia's murder.

CastActor Role

Josh Hartnett Ofcr. Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert

Aaron Eckhart Sgt. Leonard 'Lee' Blanchard

Scarlett Johansson Katherine 'Kay' Lake

Hilary Swank Madeleine Linscott

Rachel Miner Martha Linscott

Mia Kirshner Elizabeth Ann Short/The Black Dahlia

Rose McGowan Sheryl Saddon

Mike Starr Russ Millard

William Finley Georgie Tilden

Fiona Shaw Ramona Linscott

Differences between the novel and film

In the novel, Bleichert loses the fight to Blanchard legitimately despite having arranged with gamblers to throw the match in exchange for cash with which to place his senile father in a nursing home. In the film, he appears to actually take the dive by dropping his defenses in the corner, allowing Blanchard to deliver the ferocious knockout combination. The romance between Bleichert and Lake is dramatically streamlined in the film; in the novel, they are married and eventually separated during the time that the case comes to a resolution. In the novel, Bleichert succumbs more explicitly to an obsession with the Dahlia that previously Blanchard had exhibited. This is understated in the film, though suggested in several scenes. At one point in the novel, Bleichert hires a prostitute and has her dress up as the Black Dahlia; this scene is absent from the film. In the film, the Sprague family is renamed Linscott.

A subplot involving Fritz Vogel (who appears as a bit character in the film) and his son Johnny Vogel (absent from the film) is entirely excised. The corresponding subplot involving the false confessors and Bleichert's brief suspicion of Johnny Vogel as the Dahlia killer is missing as well. Due in part to the removal of the Vogel subplot, Bleichert's relationship with police captain Russ Millard is diminished in the film. In the novel, Millard assists Bucky during the resolution of the case toward the end; in the film, Millard never appears during this period. In the novel, Blanchard's confrontation with Bobby DeWitt occurs in Mexico, while in the film, it occurs in Los Angeles. The culmination of this conflict is discovered later by Bleichert when he tracks Lee's movements to Mexico. In the film, Bleichert is present for this incident, which occurs in Los Angeles. Georgie Tilden attempted to kill Lee, but in the ensuing struggle, they both plummet to their deaths. In the novel, Bleichert's recognition of the significance of The Man Who Laughs painting occurs because the painting is located at a neighbor's house, Jane Chalmers, who is not present in the film. In the film, the painting is in the Linscott residence. As such, the manner in which Bleichert deduces the identity of the killer is markedly different in the film. In the novel, Bleichert confronts and kills Georgie Tilden at the murder site, but never directly confronts him in the film. In the film, Ramona Linscott commits suicide; she does not in the novel. In the novel, the incident between Bleichert and Ramona occurs when they are alone together; the film combines this confrontation with Bleichert's questioning of Emmett and Madeleine. In the novel, Bleichert arrests Madeleine; in the film, he kills her.


A location shot for the movie The Black Dahlia, showing a rainmaking rig, a sprinkler system used to create the appearance of rain on the set -- a commonly employed practical effect.Highly anticipated by many after the success of L.A. Confidential, the film was panned by critics.

At, the film scored a rotten rating of 35%. Many described it as over the top and found the last half hour to be particularly excruciating. Some found it preposterous that the character played by Hilary Swank would be accepted universally by other characters as a dead ringer for the Black Dahlia. A number of reviewers, including on the Internet Movie Database, suggested that the film was not meant to be serious, but rather was an elaborate parody of the noir/crime genre. The accuracy of this hypothesis is questionable.
The film made US$12 million after its opening weekend, but was widely considered a box-office flop.
Despite the film being a critical and financial failure, it was nominated for an Academy Award for its cinematography. It lost to Pan's Labyrinth.

Box office

The film opened Friday, 15 September 2006, in 2,226 theaters. It came in second place over its opening weekend (losing out to Gridiron Gang), with an estimated $10 million gross box office. It ended its theatrical run after domestically grossing $22,545,080, and grossing $26,787,612 in foreign theaters. [3]


1. "2 men, 1 obsession: the quest for justice"

2. Trivia for The Black Dahlia

3. The Black Dahlia at Box Office Mojo

No comments: