The Blue Dahlia (1946): Fade To Gray

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

A returned WW2 vet is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife.

The Blue Dahlia has you thinking it is going somewhere but never does. A competent crime melodrama from an original screenplay by Raymond Chandler, teams Alan Ladd with Veronica Lake, but this is a minor picture. Some argue mistakenly in my view that the plot of a returning vet avenging the murder of his trampy wife makes the movie a film noir. There is no depth to the protagonists and the direction is pedestrian at best: Alan Ladd’s wooden persona flattens the drama and there is no tension.

There are some redeeming aspects though. The biggest is the presence of Veronica Lake: you just can’t get enough of her on the screen. As Alan Ladd says to her in the best line in the picture:

Every guy’s seen you before – somewhere.
The trick is to find you…

The Blue Dahlia (1946) The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Chandler’s dialog is snappy, particularly the lines delivered by William Bendix as an injured vet. His performance is noteworthy as is the camp turn by Doris Dowling as the “murdered dame”.

The Blue Dahlia (1946) The Blue Dahlia (1946)

For Veronica Lake fans.

4 thoughts on “The Blue Dahlia (1946): Fade To Gray”

  1. The Blue Dahlia is not one of Chandler’s better works. The dialogue is devoid of typical Chandlerism: acerbic wit and existential metaphors. Agreed Ladd is cardboard in this movie. Chandler preferred Bogart over Ladd and Powell (The Raymond Chandler Papers).

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  2. I agree with you guys. I watched this recently on TCM and Bendix gives the shows best performance.But the direction is rather flat, and the cinematography not all that striking or evocative. Ladd and Lake are much better in “This Gun For Hire” and “The Glass Key.” And I couldn’t help but laugh at the ending which is just too pat and tidy for film noir.

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  3. I’ve watched this movie many times and I have to agree that Mr. Ladd is somewhat “dull”.
    But I am fascinated by the Doris Dowling character! She’s just about the perfect model for a
    “sluttish” wife/party girl. A touch of bad mixed with a little crazy… she would probably be a lot of fun.

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    1. Yes Neil, Doris Dowling deserves more recognition. She had a more sympathetic role in Wilder’s The Long Weekend. Sorry for the delay in responding – I have been on sabbatical.

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