|Blue Dahlia [VHS]
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- One of the essential film noirs
The Blue Dahlia is a quintessential film noir, one of the great films that defined the genre. Army men return from World War II to find their wives drunk and cheating with scumbag jazz club owners. Whether this film has not been released on DVD in the U.S. is quite curious, considering almost every film noir has been burned onto DVD in various collections of the genre. My guess is that Turner owns the film, and hopes to air it only on TCM, or the potentially racist comment in the film has people worried. There were racists in the 1940s, and denying it by not releasing a film is pretty silly....more info
- "Tamed by a brunette - framed by a blonde - blamed by the cops!"
Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake team up for another steamy detective thriller set ind Hollywood. Johnny (Ladd) is just back from the war, along with his two war buddies including the hapless Buzz (William Bendix) who has a plate in his head from a combat head injury. Buzz has memory loss, a hair-trigger temper and can't stand loud music. Johnny goes home to find out his wife is a drunken tramp and isn't happy to see him. In the ugly scene that follows, Johnny threatens his wife with a gun and then stalks out. He gets a ride in the rain with Mrs. Harwood (played by Veronica Lake) who is also unhappy with her marriage. When his wife is murdered with his own weapon, Johnny wants to find out who murdered his wife. He is hampered in his investigation because he is the police's prime suspect.
The Blue Dahlia has some of the hallmark filming of noir style, the shadowy black and white filming and the violent, pessimistic script. The screenwriter, Ray Chandler, was nominated for an Oscar for best writing, original screenplay. Chandler had to do a rush job on the script because Ladd had been drafted into the military. He supposedly performed the script drunk in order to get it done on time. Perhaps mirroring Chandler's drinking problem, everyone in the film drinks like a fish. The script is fine but not excellent, well below the standard of writing in Chandler's novels. In particular Veronica Lake's role is written devoid of the sardonic comebacks that usually enliven the leading lady in noir films.
Overall, the Blue Dahlia is a good movie, what keeps it from being excellent is problems with the pace of the movie. For a crime thriller it is a little flat. The sets are glamorous, the stars do their usual excellent job, but the Blue Dahlia is not as compelling as other Ladd/Lake collaborations. Some of the scenes are very good, of note is a scene where William Bendix argues with the police--a good comedic moment in wise-cracking noir style. ...more info
- Bendix Highlights This Noir
Here's another one of those classic favorites that I am still hoping gets transferred to DVD. It's been long overdue. Where is it??!
This is another Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake film (their third of the decade) but William Bendix steals the show as a G.I. who suffered brain damage in World War II. He is something to see and his wise-cracking lines are some of the best ever delivered in a film noir. He had a short temper and insulted everyone he came in contact with. I just laugh out loud at some of his stuff.
Doris Dowling is effective as a nasty woman and it's always fun to see Hugh Beaumont in a role other than the dad in "Leave It To Beaver." Howard da Silva and Will Wright also are entertaining in their supporting roles. Also, for you TV trivia fans: see if you can spot "Lois Lane" (Noel Neill) in here.
Never as gorgeous as billed, Lake still had a unique look and voice but she plays it pretty straight here, character-wise. I like her better when she wisecracks as she did in some of her other films.
This is a pretty good crime story. Nothing exceptional, but at least it keeps you guessing. You're never quite sure until the very end "whodunnit."
- "Blue Dahlia (1946) ... Alan Ladd ... Paramount Pictures Film Noir"
Paramount Pictures present "BLUE DAHLIA" (1946) (100 mins/B&W) (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling & Hugh Beaumont --- Directed by George Marshalland released in April 19, 1946, our story line and film, Ex-bomber pilot Johnny Morrison and his buddies George and Buzz (who, with a metal plate in his head, can't stand "monkey music"), return from the war to their home town, Hollywood ... In a rude homecoming, Johnny finds his wife Helen behaving like a tramp with oily nightclub owner Eddie Harwood. His marriage over, Johnny wanders off into the night, leaving his gun behind...and someone uses it to murder Helen ... Dodging cops and seeking the real killer, Johnny is aided by blonde Joyce, who just happens to be the estranged wife of Eddie Harwood ... Bendix gets in the top billing with stars Ladd and Lake because he's also a radio star because of the Life of Riley Show ... Bendix shows signs of post traumatic stress at a time when that diagnosis had not been invented --- tidy film noir utilizing the only film script Raymond Chandler wrote directly for the screen - a script for which he earned an Academy Award Nomination --- Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake made 7 films together, "The Blue Dahlia" (1946), "Duffy's Tavern" (1945), "The Glass Key" (1942), "Saigon" (1948), "Star Spangled Rhythm" (1942), "This Gun for Hire" (1942) and "Variety Girl" (1947). "In Variety Girl" (1947), "Star Spangled Rhythm" (1942) and "Duffy's Tavern" (1945) they appear as themselves.
Under George Marshall (Director / Producer), John Houseman (Producer), Raymond Chandler (Screenwriter), Lionel Lindon (Cinematographer), Victor Young (Musical Direction/Supervision / Composer (Music Score), Arthur P. Schmidt (Editor), Hans Dreier (Art Director), Walter Tyler (Art Director), Sam Comer (Set Designer), Jimmy Walter (Set Designer), James M. Walters (Set Designer), Edith Head (Costume Designer), Gene Merritt (Sound/Sound Designer), Joel Moss (Sound/Sound Designer), Wally Westmore (Makeup) - - - - the cast includes Alan Ladd (Johnny Morrison), Veronica Lake (Joyce Harwood), William Bendix (Buzz Wanchek), Howard Da Silva (Eddie Harwood), Doris Dowling (Helen Morrison), Tom Powers (Capt. Hendrickson), Hugh Beaumont (George Copeland), Howard Freeman (Corelli), Don Costello (Leo), Will Wright (Dad Newell), Frank Faylen (The Man), Walter Sande (Heath, Gangster), Dick Winslow (Piano Player at Party), Harry Tyler (Clerk in Bus Station), Franklin Parker (Police Stenographer), Noel Neill (Hatcheck Girl), Anthony Caruso (Marine Corporal) - - - - - Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe Hollywood crime dramas that set their protagonists in a world perceived as inherently corrupt and unsympathetic...Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography, while many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hard-boiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Depression...the term film noir (French for "black film"), first applied to Hollywood movies by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unknown to most of the American filmmakers and actors while they were creating the classic film noirs..the canon of film noir was defined in retrospect by film historians and critics; many of those involved in the making of film noir later professed to be unaware at the time of having created a distinctive type of film ... featuring top performances from the '40s and '50s with outstanding drama and screenplays, along with a wonderful cast and supporting actors to bring it all together ... another winner from the vaults of almost forgotten film noir gems
SPECIAL FEATURES BIOS:
1. Alan Walbridge Ladd
Date of Birth: 3 September 1913 - Hot Springs, Arkansas
Date of Death: 29 January 1964 - Palm Springs, California
2. Veronica Lake (aka: Constance Frances Marie Ockelman)
Date of Birth: 14 November 1919 - Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death: 7 July 1973 - Burlington, Vermont
3. William Bendix
Date of Birth: 14 January 1906 - New York, New York
Date of Death: 14 December 1964 - Los Angeles, California
4. George Marshall (Director)
Date of Birth: 29 December 1891 - Chicago, Illinois
Date of Death: 17 February 1975 - Los Angeles, California
Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc), Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") and Trevor Scott (Down Under Com) as they have rekindled my interest once again for Film Noir, B-Westerns and Serials --- looking forward to more high quality releases from the vintage serial era of the '20s, '30s & '40s and B-Westerns ... order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on VHS, stay tuned once again for top notch action mixed with deadly adventure --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out VCI Entertainment where they are experts in releasing B-Westerns and Serials --- all my heroes have been cowboys!
Total Time: 100 min on VHS ~ Universal Home Video ~ (3/26/1996) ...more info
- Stylish, but not genuine noir
The opening shot may be one of the most knowing and beautiful ones in film noir, a focus on the word 'Hollywood' which after the camera pulls away, is actually a destination on a bus sign. With fiml noir, just utter "Hollywood" and there is no need to explain betrayal, hypocrisy, seediness, injustice or pretence.
The screenplay is classic Raymond Chandler, sharply brilliant with rat-a-tat fire exchange. But the plot fails -- it's too simple, too linear, and not convuluted enough to darken the shadows and reflect the torn morals noir characters have to face. Veronica Lake as the femme fatale isn't quite vicious enough, and her own private agenda is boring enough to bleach white into the noir. In fact, that credit should go to man-caught-in-the-middle Johnny Morrison's (Alan Ladd) ex-wife, who goes out of her way to make a war hero look bad....more info
- A Reel Picture of 40's Los Angeles: A Historical Gem.
The Blue Dahlia is on my top ten list of greatest American films ever made. The superb cast is so close in age and demographic to the tenor of the times that every line written by Chandler is delivered with an almost exacting reality of both mythical movie America and the very real horror of men dealing with postwar paranoia in the real world. The villains are ugly sleazy men who run the city of L.A. and were draft dodgers for whom WWII was nonexistent. In this Noir landscape they stumble around an L.A.
that to this day if you drive around at 2a.m.you might still see the ghosts of Johnny and Buzz and that gorgeous Veronica Lake making their way back to the Blue Dahlia for one nightcap, one song before the credits roll....more info
- First-rate Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. We need The Blue Dahlia, and especially The Glass Key, out on prime DVD releases.
"Bourbon, straight, with a bourbon chaser." That's Johnny Morrison's drink. Johnny's just been discharged from the Navy, along with two of his pals who were under his command. There's George Copeland (Hugh Beaumont), easy going and loyal, and Buzz Wancheck (William Bendix), big and burly, just as loyal to Johnny as George is, with a metal plate in his head, a variable memory and who sometimes goes into rages.
Johnny leaves his two pals in a Los Angeles hotel and goes to The Cavendish Court in the evening to meet his wife, Helen (Doris Dowling). The Cavendish is a high priced hotel with private bungalows, a careless attitude about parties and an aging security man who doesn't mind taking a few under-the-table dollars for various services. Johnny finds his wife, alright. He learns quickly what her philosophy is. "I take all the drinks I like, any time, any place," Helen Morrison says at one point. "I go where I want to with anybody I want. I just happen to be that kind of a girl." She's giving a drunken party at her bungalow. Before long Johnny sees her being too friendly with Eddie Harwood (Howard De Silva), a well-dressed hood and owner of The Blue Dahlia nightclub. Johnny punches Harwood and leaves in a cold rage. He's picked up by a blonde in a convertible. "You oughta have more sense than to take chances with strangers like this," he tells her. "It's funny," she says, "but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them." The next morning he hears on the radio that his wife has been murdered with his gun, and he's being hunted by the cops.
What's he going to do? In this first-rate murder mystery, Johnny decides to find the killer himself. His wife might have been a tramp, but she was his wife. Trouble is, there are a lot of possible murderers. And the blonde who picked him up? It turns out she's Joyce Harwood (Veronica Lake), Eddie's estranged wife. Something clicks between them. When she lets him out of the car that night, they talk briefly and then he turns and walks away. "Don't you ever say good night?" she calls out to him. Johnny walks back. "It's goodbye,' he tells her, "and it's hard to say 'goodbye.'" "Why is it?" Joyce asks him. "You've never seen me before tonight." Johnny looks at her. You can see he's regretting ever marrying his wife. ""Every guy's seen you before, somewhere" he tells her. "The trick is to find you."
The Blue Dahlia has a tight, complex script by Raymond Chandler. The direction by George Marshall is efficient and fast-paced. The characters, and the actors who play them, are vivid, especially Bendix. Buzz Wancheck may be loyal to Johnny, but ticking away behind that metal plate in his head is a potential time bomb. Loud, fast music -- monkey music, Buzz calls it -- can trigger ferocious headaches and the kind of anger-fueled rage you don't want to be around. Howard Da Silva was a fine actor and his Eddie Harwood is more than a conventional gangster. He's smooth, ruthless, friendly, smart, corrupt...and he still is carrying at least a small torch for Joyce. Will Wright as "Dad" Newall turns in a great performance as the sleazy, defensive security man at the Cavendish. He's one more of the great character actors people remember by their faces and their performances, but whose name is never remembered.
This was the third of the Alan Ladd/Vernonica Lake vehicles the two made during the Forties, beginning with This Gun for Hire in 1942 and followed by The Glass Key that same year. Although they evidently didn't much care for each other off screen, on screen they generated quite a bit of electricity. Lake in high heels never topped five feet. She usually came across as sexy but no one's fool. They were blond and small. They went well together. In some way no one has been able to define, the camera found a kind of extra dimension with the two. The Blue Dahlia might not quite match their two classic films, This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key, but it still is an effective murder vehicle for two interesting stars. All three films are solid viewing even after 60 years.
Alan Ladd made no bones about being, or wanting to be, an actor. He was an easy-going guy with one ambition, to be a movie star. With This Gun for Hire he made it, and became a major star during the Forties. Even in the Fifties when the good roles were slipping by him he remained an above-the-title star. But why? He was only 5'5", slightly built and he was no actor. He's quoted as saying, "I have the face of an aging choirboy and the build of an undernourished featherweight. If you can figure out my success on the screen you're a better man than I." Here's what that first-rate film critic David Thomson, from his The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, has to say: "Once Ladd had acquired an unsmiling hardness, he was transformed from an extra to a phenomenon. These films are still exciting, and Ladd's calm slender ferocity make it clear that he was the first American actor to show the killer as a cold angel." For those who are only familiar with Ladd through Shane and some of his other Fifties' films, watch the big three he made in the Forties. Only Gun for Hire is out on DVD, but you can track down VHS tapes of Glass Key and Dahlia.
The Universal VHS tape of The Blue Dahlia has a fine looking picture. It includes the preview for the film. ...more info
- A Great Los Angeles Oriented Film Noir
Appropriately compared and contrasted to "Double Indemnity" (1944), Raymond Chandler's other great Los Angeles oriented film noir screenplay, "The Blue Dahlia" (1946) shows a part of Los Angeles a bit further down on the socio-economic peeking order. Lower middle class LA is a world of "neighborhood bars and bungalow courts". Post war Los Angeles is not sunny California but a shadowy labyrinth whose denizens are in love with the night. The title character is not a reference to Elizabeth Short, who would have seen the film from which she picked up her "Black Dahlia" nickname, but a low-grade nightclub on Sunset Blvd.
Recently discharged USN officers, Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd), Buzz Wanchek (William Bendix) and George Copeland (Hugh Beaumont-I think Ward Cleaver was actually a Seabee) return to Los Angeles with some service connected problems. Buzz has a metal plate in his head and some mental damage; George's eyesight has gone bad; and Johnny is trying to adjust to his new hero status.
While Buzz and George set up together (in what some have speculated is a funny relationship) Johnny gets busy finding out what his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) did during the war. To his disgust he discovers that she is the mistress of a draft-dodging hood named Eddie Harwood (the owner of the title character). Helen then confesses that her drunk driving was responsible for the death of their son.
Helen is murdered that night with the primary suspects being Johnny, Eddie, and Buzz (who had already managed to become Helen's drinking buddy). Enter the beautiful Veronica Lake as Joyce Harwood, who picks up Johnny while he is wandering around in the rain. It turns out that there is a reason she and Eddie have the same last names.
The plot gets complicated after this, with Johnny and Joyce running around in a Phillip Marlowe way attempting to solve the murder and encountering a wide range of Chandler's bizarre and nasty people.
Chandler's original idea was for Helen's murderer to be a battle fatigued veteran, but the Navy pressured the studio to change the story. Like Viet Nam there was a growing fear that many of the returning veterans were violent and unstable.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child....more info
- "Every Guy Has Seen You Somewhere."
Raymond Chandler scripted the screenplay of this interesting noir gem. Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake (sporting a slightly shorter version of her trademark peek-a-boo hairstyle), are reunited in this stylish film noir. Johnny Morrison, just returned from military service, comes home to his Los Angeles bungalow to discover his fickle, unscrupulous wife, Helen (the relatively unknown Doris Dowling, best remembered as Ray Milland's drinking buddy in "The Lost Weekend"), hasn't exactly been waiting in the wings for him - she has been having an affair with Eddie Harwood (Howard da Silva) owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub ("You've got the wrong lipstick on, mister!"). She then drunkenly shrieks of how her impaired driving had killed their young son, which leads Johnny to threaten her with a gun, but he promptly leaves before he does something he'll regret later. However, Helen is found dead the next morning, and Johnny, who had made the acquaintance of Joyce (Veronica Lake) is the prime suspect. Joyce offers to help, and Johnny's war buddy (William Benedix) also wants him cleared, but, as with all Chandler noir, there are plenty of red herrings, twists and mazes of clues that don't always make sense. Johnny feels he can't trust Joyce when he discovers that she is the wife of Harwood, although she clearly wants nothing more to do with him. She tries to explain, but, Johnny dismisses her with, "So long, baby!" The truth does come out, but not until after a few fascinating plot twists. Many have said that this is not really noir, since Lake's character is not so much a femme fatale as she is a mystery dame, but hey, if she sparks Ladd's interest, that's more than enough! Benedix, who had teamed with Ladd and Lake in "The Glass Key", four years earlier, gives tremendous support, and his wounded, traumatized war veteran is a compelling character.
Chandler's ungentlemanly treatment of Lake (calling her Moronica Lake and deriding her acting skills couldn't have earned him very many points), may account for the reason why she appears blank in a few scenes, but she pulls the role off and she and Ladd make screen magic, as always. She and Dowling are beautifully costumed by Edith Head. On a rather morbid note, this film's title was the inspiration of giving murder victim Elizabeth Short the moniker, "The Black Dahlia". And the similar turns that both Ladd and Lake's lives would take is very ironic and sad - both would see their careers slide, suffer from depression and die relatively young as a result of alcoholism. If there ever was a screen couple who ran neck and neck, it was these two!
A worthy DVD contender (what the heck is taking so long?) and let's hope when such a day comes, plenty of extras will be included! ...more info
- A marvelous film noir by one of the masters of the genre
Although ensconced as the second (chronologically) of the three great hardboiled detective writers in American literature, along with his predecessor Dashiell Hammett and successor Ross MacDonald, Chandler stands alone as a film noir screenwriter. His novels provided the basis for many of greatest films in the genre--MURDER MY SWEET (based on FAREWELL, MY LOVELY), THE BIG SLEEP (the screenplay of which was worked on by an even greater writer, William Faulkner), THE LADY IN THE LAKE, THE LONG GOODBYE, and the Robert Mitchum versions of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY and THE BIG SLEEP. But Chandler also wrote several masterful screenplays, either adaptations such as James M. Cain's DOUBLE INDEMNITY (perhaps THE film noir masterpiece) and Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. THE BLUE DAHLIA was a completely original screenplay that Chandler wrote in the closing days of WW II. The filming was complicated by Alan Ladd's being drafted during the final days of the conflict. He knew when he was going to be inducted with the result that they had to rush the shooting even before the script was finished. In a famous incident, Chandler offered to write the screenplay drunk in order to get it completed on time, though it isn't clear that he carried out his offer. He was allowed to finish the screenplay working from home, a practice utterly without precedent at the time, when writers were expected to report to the office like any other 9 to 5 employee. (Details on the writing of the screenplay can be found in Tom Hiney's interesting biography on Chandler.)
THE BLUE DAHLIA was the third great film that Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake made together. While a great film, I don't think their presence was what made it work. Lake plays far less of a role in this one than she did in THIS GUN FOR HIRE and THE GLASS KEY. Nonetheless, her lovely presence is always a wonderful asset to a film. Ladd has a much larger and crucial role, but even he is often removed from the central action, unlike, say THIS GUN FOR HIRE, in which he is in every crucial scene. But the superb supporting cast more than makes up for their lessened roles. William Bendix is outstanding as Ladd's buddy Buzz, a brain-damaged vet as the result of shrapnel to the skull. Originally Chandler was going to pin the murder on Buzz, but the studio nixed that because they did not want to portray a returning veteran in a negative light. Buzz's other best friend was played by Hugh Beaumont, best known as Ward Cleaver on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. Speaking of TV dads, Frank Faylen has a small but memorable role as a shakedown artist. He played Dobie's father on DOBBIE GILLIS. Will Wright, usually just a familiar face as one of those character actors who played a couple of hundred small supporting roles, got a much beefier part as the hotel peeping tom. Doris Dowling plays Johnny Morrison's (Alan Ladd's character) wayward wife, and unquestionably embodied the fears that many returning servicemen must have felt at war's end. Don Costello was wonderfully creepy as Leo, who is not only visually memorable as Eddie Harwood's henchman, but gets some of the film's best lines. Tragically, Costello died before the film was released, so this was his last role. Howard da Silva played Harwood, the owner of the Blue Dahlia and a character far more complex than the usual film noir bad guy. I loved the way that he seemed to genuinely respect Johnny Morrison, while at the same time being a bit of a creep. He was an unusual blend of good and bad characters, and not the standard one-dimensional heavy.
One twist I enjoyed in the film was the way Chandler chose not to depict the cops as idiots. Although they were seeking Johnny for questioning in the murder of his wife, they make it explicit near the end that they are not seeking just a story about how the murder took place, but a version of the story that makes complete sense to them. They therefore end up being a lot smarter than the police are usually rendered in such films.
The film has a clean, unadorned look, with large white surfaces and uncluttered areas. In this way it is somewhat of a departure from other film noirs. The genre was originally marked by heavy use of shadows and a strong contrast between very bright and very dark surfaces, looks pioneered by such cinematographers as John Seitz and Nicholas Musuraca.
In summary, while this film isn't one of the very finest examples of film noir, it is nonetheless a very fine film that definitely rewards viewing. On a sad note, the title of the film provided the name for one of the most famous unsolved murders of the 20th century. While the film was running in the theaters the severed corpse of a beautiful woman named Elizabeth Short was found. The press dubbed her the Black Dahlia. Her murder inspired several treatments in print and film, including the novel THE BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy, the first in his series of L.A. novels. A soon-to-be-released film on Elizabeth Short is also entitled THE BLACK DAHLIA....more info
- BLUE DAHLIA AND BLUE ME TOO!!
Yes I'm as blue as the Dahlia when i cant get this on DVD even though the last release was 12 years ago! Hey! Wake up! We dont by VHS anymore! Its been DVD for most of us for some 10 years now! Why dont you guys catch up and give us what we want. We would love to buy Veronica Lake movies if they were only available to us!...more info
- The Ladd/Lake magic continues in "The Blue Dahlia"!
This classic is one of the best examples of film noir of the 1940s, and it's also perhaps the best on-screen pairing of macho Alan Ladd and sexy Veronica Lake. This was Raymond Chandler's first screenplay, adopted from his unfinished 128 page novel, The Blue Dahlia. According to Hollywood legend, he got totally drunk while finishing the script, living up to his reputation as an alcoholic. Nevertheless, this is an excellently-crafted noir murder mystery that will have you guessing right up till the end who the real killer is!
Alan Ladd plays Johnny Morrison, a returning WW2 veteran who is eager to see his wife, Helen (Doris Dowling). He walks into his home only to discover her kissing another man, nightclub owner Eddie Harwood (Howard da Silva). As if that wasn't painful enough for him, she also tells him the truth about their child's death during the war: he was killed in a car crash in which she had been driving while drunk. This spells the end of their already troubled marriage, and Johnny leaves her (along with his .45 pistol) behind.
Johnny's two war pals, Buzz (William Bendix) and George (Hugh Beaumont) get a phone call from Helen saying that he's run out on her, and Buzz goes out looking for her to find out more. The next morning, Helen's lifeless body (killed by Johnny's pistol)is found in her home, and police begin an immediate search for Johnny, who's hitched a ride with a beautiful woman, Joyce (Veronica Lake). Unkown to Johny, Joyce is the unhappy wife of Eddie Harwood! Johnny suspects Eddie of his wife's murder, but nothing is as it seems in this thriller with so many twists you'll be dizzy by the end!
This highly underated film noir has great performances from the outstanding cast, and the Raymond Chandler script is very memorable, especially Alan Ladd's "Every guy has seen you before somewhere, the trick is to find you." to Veronica Lake. I hope Universal will release this classic and "The Glass Key" on dvd soon because the vhs is becoming increasingly difficult to find....more info
- A tangled murder mystery
The George Marshall directed "Blue Dahlia" is a good film noir classic prevented only from being great by some awkward plot segues in the Raymond Chandler written screenplay.
WW2 pilot Johnny Morrison played by dimutative tough guy Alan Ladd has just returned to California from the service accompanied by buddies Buzz and George, played respectively by William Bendix and Hugh (Ward Cleaver from "Leave it to Beaver") Beaumont. Having been separated from his wife Helen played by a sexy Doris Dowling he looks her up in her ritzy Hollywood bungalow. Much to his dismay he finds her to be an unfaithful alcoholic cavorting with Blue Dahlia nightclub owner and heavy Howard DaSilva playing Eddie Harwood. They quarrel and he walks out on her.
This is the point where the plot becomes ridiculous. Ladd walking outside in a rainstorm is improbably picked up Veronica Lake. Lake is very conveniently and fantastically portraying Joyce Harwood, the estranged wife of nightclub owner DaSilva!
When Ladd's wife Helen turns up murdered, shot with a revolver, he becomes the prime suspect. He had been overheard fighting with her by the house detective where she lived.
Ladd's friends Bendix and Beaumont as well as Lake try to move heaven and earth to protect him from the law. We also find out that Ladd's wife Dowling was extorting DaSilva with an old murder wrap from his past. The solution to the crime however is not as obvious as it seems.
The on screen chemistry between Ladd and Lake is undeniable and helps keep the action afloat. The well rounded cast did an excellent job with the material they were given. The black and white cinematography assured the film's status in the annals of film noir classics....more info
- A Masterpiece
The Blue Dahlia is the finest noir film of its kind and everything is absolutely perfect in the third of four films Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake would make together. Raymond Chandler wrote the origional screenplay and George Marshall turned in his finest directing job in this screen classic. This film has the perfect blend of grit and gloss, romance and female treachery, and for my money is better than the film often held up as the perfect noir, Casablanca.
Lt. Morrison (Ladd) returns from WWII with his two buddies only to find his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) has been unfaithful, in your face unfaithful, and responsible for his son's death while he was away. He confronts her at a party and blows out in a storm, unaware that someone kills her with his gun only hours later. Joyce Harwood (Lake) meets him for the first time when she offers hm a ride in the pouring rain and an attraction between the two begins.
This film is everything others of its kind during the 1940's tried to be. The noir elements are blendid perfectly with romantic touches sprinkled here and there, creating a masterpiece in the genre. A scene as Johnny and Joyce cross paths a second time in a restaurant overlooking the sea is a particular standout, the romantic view brought back into focus when he overhears a bulletin on the radio alerting him he is being sought by the police for the murder of his wife.
Like Johnny, Joyce is running from something, and trying to help him takes her right back to The Blue Dahlia nightclub. Johnny's loyal war buddies are on hand to help him but the shell shocked Buss (William Bendix) can't quite remember what he did the night Johnny's wife was murdered. The list of suspects begins to grow and includes a slimy hotel detective and the guy Joyce is all tangled up with, who just happens to be the owner of--you guessed it-- The Blue Dahlia .
This may be the most entertaining 100 minutes you'll ever spend watching a movie in this genre and is certain to be one of your all time favorites after you see it for the first time. Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake were the perfect screen duo. Johnny tells Joyce early on in the film that every guy has seen her somewhere before; meaning the girl we all see in our dreams. When things are all wrapped up Johnny stops her from driving away, reminding her of what he said. We know then as she does that she is Johnny's dream, and ours as well.
This film is a dream come true for Ladd and Lake fans and one you simply can't miss....more info
- Just Try to Guess "Who Done It"
"The Blue Dahlia" is winning film noir and a first rate murder whodunit. Just try to guess the bad guy! Alan Ladd returns from WW2 and finds right away that his wife, Helen, has been openly unfaithful. In fact, he immediately walks out on her after a "public spat". Lucky for him, he has 2 old buddies to move in with, tough guy William Bendix and straight guy Hugh Beaumont. This is the same HB who played the stern Dad on the "Leave It to Beaver" show. That droll voice, with personality to match, is the same but he plays his role well here. The plot immediately boils when Helen is found murdered, with Ladd as the obvious prime suspect. As is real life, the spouse always is. AL has to skip town to find the real perp. Here is where credibility is smoothly ignored, as willowy Veronica Lake magically appears to "help" Ladd, a total stranger, in a pinch. The chemistry between AL and VL is so good that viewers will ignore her convenient entry to the scene. Counting Bendix and Beaumont, 4 people are now trying to clear Ladd. There are two other suspects: One is none other than the troubled Bendix who may have had an alcoholic blackout the night of the murder and cannot account for his movements. The other is a sleazy nightclub owner, Howard da Silva. He just happened to have been Helen's boyfriend while Ladd was away! He is picture perfect as a refined, well-dressed crook, who has committed a murder in the past-and is married to Lake! What happens? A good review won't reveal an ending, certainly not one to such a solid flick. Like so many noir classics. BD is fast running. Somehow Director George Marshall squeezed in a cast of 60 (!) without any clutter. (All are listed in Silver and Ward's "Film Noir") Viewers will not be bored! The photography is superb; especially Ladd's dark, revealing nocturnal showdown with da Silva and that rainy scene as the perp leaves Helen's apartment. This viewer hit the rewind button 3 times and could not tell who it was. If there is a weak point, it lies in the slam bang wrap-up. The cops trick the real perp into incrimination and the fade out follows. BD ends with Bendix leading Beaumont off to the nearest bar. Beaver and Wally might not have approved but Eddie Haskell would have tagged along!...more info