The Black Dahlia, Mia Kirshner

Why is it that some real life crimes have captured the imagination of the public more than others?

Back in 1947, in California, 22-year-old Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia) was gruesomely butchered. Her murder has never been solved.

The Black Dahlia, Josh Hartnett

There are numerous books, a handful of TV dramas & films, loads of websites, and even a band devoted to this crime. People are incredibly hungry for information about it.

Is it the level of mutilation that fascinates, I wonder, or the fact that the murderer has never been found?

The Black Dahlia,Hilary Swank

I guess, like the Jack the Ripper case here in the UK, it’s probably a combination of the two.

This movie based on the notorious LA murder, and directed by Brian De Palma in 2005, is based on  James Ellroy‘s ‘Black Dahlia’-inspired novel.

Ellroy became obsessed with Elizabeth Short‘s death following the murder of his mother in 1958 when he was just ten years old. By 1987 he’d penned The Black Dahlia – a fictional tale of two cops investigating the ‘Black Dahlia’ killing.

Incidentally, this was the first novel in Ellroy’s LA Quartet – four crime novels set in 1940s-50s Los Angeles. The third – LA Confidential –  was also made into a movie in 1997. It was directed by Curtis Hanson.

LA Confidential

The Black Dahlia (movie) stars Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Kirschner, Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart and it’s showing on Film4 today, 2nd July, at 11.05pm.

LA Confidential  – the story of an ambitious police detective and a thuggish cop who reluctantly join forces to solve a complex murder case in 1950s Los Angeles – is showing on Film4 tomorrow, 3rd July, at 1am.

Both films have complex storylines and you have to have your wits about you to keep up with their twists and turns. If you can’t rely on your wits, then make sure you have a handy friend/partner/relative/colleague/willing stranger nearby to explain it all to you afterwards.