"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 21, 1949 with Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd reprising their film roles.
Raymond Chandler, who wrote the screenplay, claimed that producer John Houseman was in "the doghouse" and director George Marshall "was a stale old hack who had been directing for thirty years without once having achieved any real distinction", so Chandler went on to the Paramount set to direct some of the scenes himself.
Elizabeth Short got the nickname "The Black Dahlia" from a bartender at a Long Beach bar she frequented. The Blue Dahlia was playing at a theatre down the street, and the bartender got the name wrong. Elizabeth picked up on that and kept the nickname, adding a flower to her hair to complete the transformation. She was murdered the next year (1947).
Just after the fight scene between Alan Ladd and the two thugs that kidnapped him, one of the thugs is seen soaking his broken leg in a round tub. That wasn't in the script; the actor had actually broken his leg filming the fight and, without consulting screenwriter Raymond Chandler, director George Marshall rewrote the script to have the character break his leg as well.
Many of the cars in the film have a "B" sticker on the windshields. This is a reflection of the wartime rationing of gasoline. Gas was rationed primarily to save rubber, because Japan had occupied Indochina, Malaysia, and Indonesia. (There was a shortage of gas on the East Coast until a pipeline from Texas was constructed to replace the transport of crude oil by sea.) The B sticker was the second lowest category, entitling the holder to only 8 gallons of gas a week.
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.
Originally Raymond Chandler intended Buzz, the character played by William Bendix, to be the murderer of Helen Morrison. But the U.S. Navy reacted so strongly against the depiction of a service member becoming homicidal due to brain injuries suffered in combat that they threatened never again to cooperate with ANY Paramount production if that ending was left in the film, so Chandler reluctantly rewrote his script to make another character the killer.
Shortly after this film released, a young woman named Elizabeth Short was murdered in Los Angeles. The local newspapers dubbed the case the "Black Dahlia" as a morbid twist on this film's title. Unlike the movie, the Short murder case is still unsolved.
Some sources erroneously include Harold J. Stone in an undetermined, uncredited minor role; Stone does not appear in this film in any capacity. At the time it was filmed (in Hollywood), he was in New York City appearing on the stage in a prominent role in "A Bell for Adano" (1944-1945).
When Alan Ladd was called up for military service, production on the movie (then still in the screenplay stage) had to be rapidly stepped up. According to a near-legendary story, screenwriter Raymond Chandler offered to finish the screenplay by working drunk: in exchange for sacrificing his health to produce the requisite pages on time, Chandler was permitted to work at home (a privilege rarely granted to screenwriters) and was provided two chauffeured cars, one to convey the completed pages to the studio and the other for his wife. Chandler turned the script in on time. Many now believe the "drunkenness" was simply a ruse by Chandler to wrangle extraordinary privileges from the desperate studio.