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In the murder of Elizabeth Short, novelist James Ellroy found a means to grieve over the rape and murder of his own mother. In the novel THE BLACK DAHLIA Betty is at once a symbol of the post-war era torn apart by its passions, and a symbol of Bucky Bleichert's/James Ellroy's search for meaning. Likewise, but dissimilarly, Betty serves a double function in De Palma's film. She seems to be an embodiment of cinematic history split between classic and post-modern eras, and of De Palma's search to assemble the perfect visual experience from pieces of his own filmic corpus. Stripped of her historical referent by De Palma, the Dahlia no longer evokes the same horror--and what is true for her is true for the film as a whole. It's various components--fine cast, clean screenplay, competent cinematography--are stitched together with near-surgical precision, but never suture us into a position where we feel we're part of the story. When the struggles of the players cease to be anything we can relate to, we can only wonder why their tale is dubbed noir. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2006_10_01_TBD.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 4:06 AM
Comments[2]

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  • Good review. Your comments regarding the display of the body and the \"coldness of the medical examination\" are right on in terms of their being unnecessary. For me, elements of film noir take on a more suggestive aspect of events which this film and many today feel the need to ignore. This is the greatness of many film noir. We can feel the pain of the characters and be empathetic with them without the need to be so realistic in depiction. This is one of the reasons that make Hollywoodland a better film - we don\'t need to see George Reeves being killed in order to get inside his and other characters in the film.

    posted by: Zorka on 2006-10-04 09:36:00

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