Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Blue Dahlia [1946]

Raymond Chandler, the great American writer of hardboiled gumshoe fiction, was inextricably linked with film noirs. Not only number of his novels was adapted to screen, he himself wrote screenplays from his and other writers’ books; but The Blue Dahlia was his first work solely for the screen. Hence, as can be easily presumed, the movie boasted of a topsy-turvy plot, racy moments, unpredictability and razor-sharp dialogues – aspects tailor-made for a crackling noir. Unfortunately, uninspired direction and weak acting couldn’t couldn't do justice to the smartly written script, thus making it, in the end, an average film at best. The story concerned Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd), a Navy man, who returns from the war only to find his wife in the arms of another man, viz. Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva), a silver-tongued gangster and the owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub. Consequently, when his wife is found murdered, Johnny becomes the primary suspect, and he must clear his name while remaining under the radar. During this quest he finds help from an unlikely source – a mysterious lady (Veronica Lake) who offers him a lift in her car in the middle of the night. The film was not just a fast paced crime thriller, it also painted a disconcerting picture of wartime society – the prevalence of adultery and marital breakdown on account of long absence of the male partner; through one of Johnny’s friends, who has a shrapnel in his brain, it also portrayed the horrors and scars of war that soldiers carry for life; the rise of human corruption and crime, too, was dealt with. Thus, though it remains as a potent work and was a smash hit too, better noirs were made than this.

Director: George Marshall
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Mystery/Film Noir
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Yes, I agree the acting and direction are rather uninspired, and as a result this is not a memorable noir.

Shubhajit said...

Good to know that you agree on this. A more-than-decent script and a typically Chandler-esque plot was largely undone in the process methinks.