September 25, 2006 12:00 PM

>Dahlia wilts when compared with two of my favorite retro crime movies—Chinatown (1974) and L.A. Confidential (1997). Both explore the dark side of a pre-freeways Los Angeles, with flinty gumshoes (Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Russell Crowe in Confidential) chasing killers—and dames in seamed stockings.

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