Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

When a war hero (Alan Ladd) comes home early to surprise his wife, she surprises him right back (nudge nudge). When he finds out how his son actually died, he considers killing her, but decides she isn't worth it. Later she is found dead by his gun, and he decides to lay low for a while. His army buddies bumble around.

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake were in seven films together. They had a few things in common. Other than stature, they both died at age 50. While he died of the manly disease of liquor and barbiturates, she died of hepatitis. While he worked in pictures up until the end, she was seldom caught on camera past the age of 30. Her last picture was the terrible Flesh Feast.

Screenwriter Raymond Chandler didn't like Lake much, calling her Moronica Lake, thinking her performance didn't add anything to the movie. She would call herself a sex zombie. Sounds like Chandler was kind of a dink himself, offering to drink himself blind in order to finish the script on time. What a way to take one for the team.

This is the third film I've done to feature Hugh Beaumont of Beaver fame. I actually don't remember him in The 7th Victim. I recognized the voice of suspect number 1 and looked him up. He played Ben Franklin in 1776, my favorite musical ever.

In real life, shortly after the film's release, a young woman named Elizabeth Short was murdered in a particularly grizzly manner. The press labeled it the Black Dahlia murder and it is still unsolved. There is no actual connection to the film.

Blue Dahlia is better than fair film-noir mystery for most of it. Ladd struck the right tone, Lake (the Kristen Stewart of her day) was passable as eye candy with lines, and the supporting cast was interesting. As we approached the finale, the mystery gets muddled. I won't elaborate but suffice to say I have one big pet peeve with mysteries and this one hit it. The reason was because the studio demanded a rewrite of the ending, throwing Chandler for a loop.

Still, better than fair. AMRU 3.5.
"You've got the wrong lipstick on, Mister."

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