Monday, November 5, 2012

The Blue Dahlia (1946)



“Seems I've lost my manners or would anyone here know the difference?” 

            I saw the Blue Dahlia for the first time most likely a few years ago. I know I liked it when I saw it because I looked for it again. I did like The Blue Dahlia this time around especially because I have more of an appreciation for classic films and like Film Noir. The Blue Dahlia is considered, depending on who ask in the scholarly film world, to be one of the quintessential Noirs. I would not go that far but it is a good example of a Noir how an innocent normal man is convicted of a crime he did not commit and has to find the people who are the ones truly responsible.
            Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) and his two friends Buzz (William Bendix) and George have just returned home from the War. The three friends stop for a drink before returning to their homes. Buzz goes a little off the wall and is short tempered because of a head injury with a piece of shrapnel behind his ear. George and Buzz plan on finding an apartment to share while Johnny has a wife to get back to.
            Jonny’s welcome home is not so pleasant. His wife Helen is throwing a party and he is not happy to see them all drunk and partying. Helen’s friend Eddie says he will be going, she walks him to the door and Johnny sees them kissing. Johnny shoots out of the room and punches Eddie. Helen tells everyone to leave. Alone, Helen is a mess. Since Johnny left she felt she had a life and went out to parties and got drunk especially after their son Dicky died. Helen confesses that Dicky did not die of an illness as she had written him the boy died when she had to bring him to a party and she smashed her car because she was drunk. Johnny walks into his room takes his gun out of his bag, grabs his bag, and goes to the living room. He points the gun at Helen but says she is not worth and leaves the bungalow.
            Helen calls up George and Buzz worried. George does not do anything because whatever happened is none of their business. Buzz is worried though and he leaves the apartment without telling George where he was going. Buzz goes to the hotel where Johnny was living. He happens to run into Helen. They have no idea who the other is since they have never been introduced before.
            Johnny is walking in the rain. He gets picked up by a woman named (Joyce). He tells her his name is Jimmy Moore. Joyce takes Johnny to Malibu. He almost ditches her but she sees him and tells him not. At a hotel the next morning Johnny hears the news about his wife and how he is wanted for questioning in the murder. Joyce sees Johnny leave the hotel and knows why he was leaving San Francisco.
            Now Johnny has to prove he did not kill Helen. It seems that no matter where Johnny goes he gets kicked around by thugs. He finds a note from Helen behind a photograph of their son saying Eddie is wanted in New Jersey for a murder in case anything were to happen to her. Johnny tries to tell Eddie he has this information but Joyce walks in. Joyce knows he did not kill his wife and is willing to help him.
            The real murderer is eventually caught, no surprise there. I did not remember who the murderer was so I was kept on my toes the whole time.
            The cast was very good. This was one of several films that Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake were paired in. Veronica Lake is one of the ultimate femme fatales… maybe not a femme fatale but definitely one of the ultimate Noir actresses. She had that cool calm to her like nothing ruffled her feathers, an attitude and demeanor that was perfect for the genre. Alan Ladd was also perfect in the Noir genre. He too had the coolness and calm but he also had a tough side. I like Lake and Ladd paired together their acting styles (maybe more so their characters) were in sync with each other. William Bendix I am not a fan of he tends to annoy me but I will admit that he was good in his role.
            The Blue Dahlia I am going to say is a must view for the Film Noir fan. To me it is not one of the best Noirs but it is a great example with its dark story and the innocent man accused of something he did not do and must clear his name. The one major element that brings this film down is Alan Ladd’s meeting with Veronica Lake, it is too coincidental and unreal. There was actually no reason for the character of Joyce to be included in the story but I guess the main character needs a love interest. Raymond Chandler who’s story the film is based off of was not too happy with the character either… well he did not really like Lake he called her “Moronica Lake” because he hated her acting. Anyway, The Blue Dahlia is absolutely worth a watch, maybe even more. The Blue Dahlia is available to view on Youtube