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Trivia / The Black Dahlia

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  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $50 million. Box office, $49.3 million. The film was shredded by critics and viewers for its incomprehensible plot, a side-effect of the film getting trimmed just before release.
  • California Doubling: Although some of the exterior shooting does avert this trope, most of the movie was actually filmed in Bulgaria.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Rose McGowan auditioned for Elizabeth Short, but was eventually cast in a minor role as Short's roommate.
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    • Mia Kirshner was originally hired to read lines with potential actors in the auditions. However, Brian De Palma and Josh Friedman were so impressed with her that she was cast in the title role.
  • Creator Killer: The film's failure sent Brian De Palma on a years-long sabbatical from Hollywood. After releasing Redacted (which was much smaller in scale) the next year, all of his subsequent films as of 2020 have been international co-productions made outside of the U.S..
  • Development Hell: The rights were first bought in 1986 and it took twenty years to get the book made into a film.
  • Disowned Adaptation: A variation. James Ellroy saw the original three hour cut and loved it. He has refused to talk about the severely edited version that got released.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Josh Hartnett trained for seven months to be in shape for the boxing scenes.
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  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: Josh Friedman claims he worked on the script from 1997 to 2005.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Mia Kirshner plays a terrible actress who can't get a part. Her performance was almost universally praised by critics.
  • Playing Against Type: Hilary Swank - usually as wholesome determinators - as a Femme Fatale.
  • Saved from Development Hell: James B. Harris optioned the film rights to the novel shortly after it was published in 1987. He planned to direct the adaptation and completed a script before abandoning the project to make another film. The project then languished in development hell for several years. The success of L.A. Confidential led to Universal acquring the rights to The Black Dahlia.
  • Uncredited Role:
    • Cate Blanchett has an uncredited and unmentioned cameo. In the scene where Lee Blanchard is in a lesbian bar asking questions and he sees Madeline for the first time, Blanchett is one of the dancers while the song is being sung and there are at least two shots of her when Blanchard is asking some women at a table if they had seen Elizabeth Short.
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    • The singer in the lesbian bar is played by an uncredited k.d. lang, who also produced "Love for Sale", a cover version of a 1930 Cole Porter song, which she performs during the scene.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • David Lynch purchased the rights to the novel in 1996 with plans to make a film adaptation which never came to fruition. Elements of the novel and the real-life case that inspired it would be incorporated into Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr.
    • The film was originally in pre-production with David Fincher attached as director. Fincher originally envisioned "a five-hour, $80-million miniseries with movie stars" shot entirely in black and white. Fincher eventually left the project as he felt he wasn't going to be able to make the film exactly as he had envisioned.
    • While Fincher was attached as director, Mark Wahlberg was attached to play Lee Blanchard. Wahlberg was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with The Italian Job (2003).
    • While Fincher was attached as director, he apparently wanted Julianna Margulies for Madeleine and Jennifer Connelly for Elizabeth.
    • Eva Green was offered the role of Madeleine but didn't want to be typecast as a Femme Fatale, and turned it down. Kate Beckinsale was also considered.
    • Maggie Gyllenhaal was also offered the role of Elizabeth but turned it down, as she disliked how the murder was used as a plot device and felt that the story disrespected Short's memory. This would have made The Dark Knight hilarious.
    • Gabriel Byrne, Billy Crudrup, Johnny Depp, Chris O'Donnell, Paul Walker and Michael Douglas were considered for Lee Blanchard.
    • Gwen Stefani was considered for the part of Kay Lake.
    • Fairuza Balk was considered for Elizabeth and Madeline.
    • A real life friend of Elizabeth Short, Marjorie Graham, was going to be featured in one scene where she tells Dwight that Elizabeth and Lorna were seen with a lesbian. She was written out and this was given to Sherryl Saddon (as the scene would have taken place directly after hers).
    • Amy Irving originally signed on for a small role, but De Palma cut her role before filming eventually began.
    • 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.
    • Josh Friedman claimed that his original script featured cameos from Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce reprising their roles from L.A. Confidential.


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