Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Blue Dahlia


This was an original screenplay by Raymond Chandler, and an excellent example of the noir genre. Alan Ladd is a veteran returning from the war with two buddies, including William Bendix, who has a head wound, poor impulse control, and gets blinding headaches when he hears “monkey music,” which is jazz, and which I assume is music played by monkeys, i.e., Negroes. Ladd’s tramp of a wife has partied hard all the time he was gone, and their son died when she was driving drunk. When he learns this, he leaves her, but somebody kills her and he is the suspect. He hooks up with Veronica Lake. Except for a slightly over-the-top Bendix and the tramp wife, the overacting so often seen in this type of movie is mostly avoided. Alan Ladd gives a good, restrained performance.
I’ve loved Veronica Lake since I saw her in Sullivan’s Travels. Her trademark over-one-eye “peekaboo” platinum blonde hair inspired a whole generation of young women to bleach and comb-over. The story is that the War Department asked her to stop wearing it like that, as it was dangerous when women war workers imitated it. Look at this:
She was paired with Alan Ladd four times, mostly because he was only 5’5”, and at 4’11” she was the only female star on the Paramount lot he could do a romantic scene with without standing on a box. I was saddened when I learned of her alcoholic decline and lost career, that finally saw her waiting tables, and then starring one of the worst movies ever made: Flesh Feast.