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Here's another one of those classic favorites that I am still hoping
gets transferred to DVD. It's been long overdue.
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."
The trailer for The Blue Dahlia advertised the film as Ladd, Lake, and
Bendix. Not a mention about Raymond Chandler, maybe he wanted it that
The Blue Dahlia has mystery writer Raymond Chandler writing an original screenplay and Chandler delivers a good movie for the most part. Nice suspenseful noir film, but it could have been better.
The main weakness in the plot is Veronica Lake. Chandler couldn't stand her and called her Moronica Lake as a reflection of her acting ability. In fairness it's a poorly defined role and her meeting with Alan Ladd in this film is too too coincidental. I guess you had to give the star a love interest, but the idea that Ladd is hunting for the killer of his wife and just happens to come upon the wife of his number one suspect is way too unreal.
The number one suspect of the killing is Howard DaSilva. If I had to name the best performance in this film it would have to be DaSilva. He's the dapper, elegant owner of a Hollywood nightclub, but he exudes a menace that chills you. His best scene in the film is paying off blackmailer Will Wright. He pays him, THIS TIME. Wright gets the message he'd better not come back for more.
I believe it was Raymond Chandler who also said that Alan Ladd was a small boy's idea of a tough guy. That is unfair to Ladd who delivers a more than competent performance here as the returning war veteran who's on the hunt for his wife's killer while being suspected of the crime itself.
Check out Alan Ladd's scene at the farm with DaSilva's thugs. Very similar in the way they end up to how Bogart handled the baddies in The Big Sleep.
Bill 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 and Hugh Beaumont are Ladd's wartime buddies and Bendix never was bad in any film he did. He shows signs of post traumatic stress at a time when that diagnosis had not been invented.
A bit too contrived, but a nice film noir.
Although riddled with improbabilities, Raymond Chandler's tough story
and script is well served with a glossy look and the hard-edged
performances drawn by director George Marshall from a superior cast.
THE BLUE DAHLIA concerns a recently discharged military man Johnny
Morrison (Alan Ladd) who returns home to find his wife Helen (Doris
Dowling) has been as unfaithful as the day is long--and is presently
carrying on with club owner Eddie Harwood (Howard da Silva), over whom
her hold is not entirely romantic. After stomping out into the rain,
Morrison learns Helen has been murdered, and must race to prove his
innocence before the coppers pick him up.
Ladd would give considerably more sophisticated performances in his later years, but he strikes all the right ultra-tough chords, and although Veronica Lake is a rather wooden actress she is remarkably beautiful and as a team the pair has considerable chemistry. The standouts in the cast, however, are Da Silva, who gives the role of the heavy a surprising interpretation, and William Bendix, who plays Ladd's war-wounded buddy to great effect.
THE BLUE DAHLIA lacks both the moodiness and grittiness of truly great film noir, so it is not in the first rank of the genre--but it is no less enjoyable for that. The film cracks along at a rapid pace with plenty of action and a surprise twist or two that will keep you guessing to the very end. Ladd and Lake fans will love it, and any one who likes the hardboiled style will be in for a real treat. Recommended.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
A follow-on from "The Glass Key", this film offers the familiar Lake, Ladd
Bendix combo in this Raymond Chandler written film noir. Not as dark as
Chandler scripts, or indeed as other film noirs of the time, it however
more suited to the acting talents of Lake and Ladd. It offers them both a
chance to shine, making you understand their star appeal of that era,
for Lake it was to be her last 'big' film. Lake, as in "Sullivan's Travels",
especially radiant in Edith head costumes, with the art direction of Hans
placing and lighting her in sensitive and evocative moods.
A good film to watch to either expand your knowledge of the film noir genre,
bask in Lake's glow, or to simply enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon...a classic of its genre. 9/10.
Raymond Chandler wrote this script and it is him through and through, I think. It's a very bleak tale of returning war veterans' findings when they reach "home." Unfaithful wife, hoodlums, and just general corruption and bleakness. The scenes with Veronica Lake are the shafts of light in this one's blackness (what did you expect, she's Veronica Lake, one of the most beautiful screen starlet ever), but all in all it conjours up dark images in one's mind. I once heard someone argue that this wasn't film noir. I disagree as much as I can. There is much inner struggle in the characters, settings of bleakness, amnesia, corruption everywhere, unfaithful spouses, murders, cops, criminals, and finally the dark visual expression (with rain as an added bonus). Do not miss this film.
The Blue Dahlia is among the dozen or so titles that movie buffs would
identify instantly as film noir. Certainly, it boasts all the proper
credentials: Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake reunited for their third outing
together (after This Gun For Hire and The Glass Key); a sinister supporting
cast including William Bendix, Howard Da Silva and Hugh Beaumont; and an
original screenplay by none other than Raymond Chandler.
It almost lives up to its reputation. Returning Navy hero Ladd finds that the wife he left behind has turned into (or always was) a faithless party girl, who killed their young son in a drunken accident. He walks out on her, later to learn she's been murdered. Hunted by the police, he's befriended by Lake, who turns out to be rather intimately involved in much of what happened....
Many noirs suffered from studio-imposed "happy" endings but generally kept their integrity until the closing few frames. The changes wrought on The Blue Dahlia, however, severely compromise it. Chandler's original killer was to be Ladd's war-buddy Bendix, the loose cannon with a steel plate in his head, erupting in pounding headaches and blackout rages whenever he hears "jungle music" -- the sexually liberating beat of postwar prosperity. Rejecting this ending as an insult to the gallant men who had won the war, Paramount, pressured by the Navy, forced Chandler to resort to a lame "the-butler-did-it" conclusion. Unfortunately, that compromise splashes back through the length of the movie, making little sense of Bendix' performance -- even of his presence, except as the rankest of red herrings -- and turning what might have been a topical and disturbing film noir into just another glossy '40s murder mystery.
I recently watched The Blue Dahlia for the first time and found it
excellent and very gripping.
Johnny Morrison and two of his pals have just come back from serving in the Second World War. Not long after, Morrison's wife is found dead and has been murdered. Morrison is the prime suspect for her murder and starts to go on the run because of this. He meets somebody else in the process and falls in love with her, despite his wife's death. Towards the end, we find out who really murdered Mrs Morrison...
This movie is shot well in black and white and certainly has some gripping moments.
The cast includes the excellent Alan Ladd (Shane), Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Doris Dowling as Mrs Morrison and Hugh Beaumont.
If you are a fan of mysteries or just old movies, The Blue Dahlia is a must. Fantastic.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
"The Blue Dahlia" is a slightly dated but interesting film noir. It has a
pretty good mystery story that, while a bit too reliant on coincidence, also
has some creative aspects. The cast is pretty good, and the atmosphere is
classic 40's film noir.
Alan Ladd plays a World War II pilot who comes home only to find an unfaithful, unpleasant, drunken wife waiting for him. She has made a mess of her life while he was away, and it is no surprise that she soon turns up murdered. The husband is suspected, and is pursued by the police, with a mysterious blonde (Veronica Lake) also taking an unexplained interest in him. Ladd and Lake are pretty good in the leads, and William Bendix is very good in a difficult role as Ladd's shell-shocked pal. The film goes pretty heavy on the "noir" atmosphere, and now seems just a little dated or static, but the atmosphere does fit well with the story.
This will primarily be of interest to those who already like films of the era, but for those who do, this is an interesting story that you'll want to see.
My recording off UK Channel 4 13th Feb 1987 is nearing its end cycle,
hopefully the next time I want to trot this episodic classic out it'll
be on DVD. Because it was Chandler I always regarded it maybe too
highly, but it certainly has some powerful noir-ish moments whilst
remaining essentially a normal Paramount studio-bound potboiler.
War vet Alan Ladd comes home to find his wife playing around, gets accused of murdering her while being picked up by Veronica Lake. They indulged in some snappy laconic Chandler-banter but that's as far as their relationship seemed to progress. Murder and mayhem follow Ladd while monkey-music followed his buddy William Bendix. I always wondered: how on Earth did Buzz settle down afterwards, especially when rock & roll came? Everyone has angles or axes to grind, is edgy, dislikeable, seedy or all three, the house-peeper particularly coming in for a lot of stick. Some savage and clunky fight scenes might surprise especially at the Old Cabin when juxtaposed with the romantic nightclub scene. The atmosphere throughout is perfect as was only possible on nitrate film stock. The only thing I never liked was at the climax after Hendrickson asks "You didn't think you were going to walk out that door did you?" - a heavily contrived and swift ending follows.
It was a stranger to me a long time ago, but has been a firm friend of mine for decades now. Did the horticulturists ever succeed in creating a real blue dahlia?
Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) and his two friends (including a good and funny
William Bendix) are coming back in town after serving in the navy during
WWII. While his two friends find a place for themselves, Johnny returns to
his home to see his wife and his son he hasn't seen for years. There, his
wife is having a party with a dozen of friends in which her lover, Eddie
Harwood, is also invited. After an argument, during which Johnny threatens
his wife with his gun (after learning that she is unfaithful, alcoholic and
that their son is dead by her fault), he leaves the place and his gun,
judging that she is not worth a killing, to find a hotel for the night. That
same rainy night, she is killed with Johnny's gun. For the Police, he
becomes the first suspect of this crime.
I've heard a lot about this movie (a classic of film noir with the legendary couple Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake) without being able to see it for years. I just saw this movie tonight at the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis. Overall the movie is good thanks to a good plot (the scenario is signed Raymond Chandler, not quiet a coincidence). At first, I found the acting very poor and dated. Especially during the argument between Alan Ladd and his wife (played Doris Dowling). This was quiet a surprise for me because I met this actress in Othello (in which she has a small part) directed by Orson Welles, a director who generally hires only good actors. But as soon as you get into the story, the acting and the dialogues get better and you really want to know the name of the murderer (really I could not guess it!). After the plot, the scenes between Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake are what make the movie worth to remember. Frustrating enough for the most romantic of us, you won't see them kiss each other during this movie, even at the end (this was probably not allowed on screen at the time when the movie was made). It is also hard to tell if the Dahlias in the movie were actually blue since it was filmed in black and white. Finally, yes, Veronica Lake is very beautiful.
This is good entertainment, I recommend it with a 7/10.
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