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The Blue Dahlia

Released Apr 18, 1946 1h 36m Crime Drama List
100% Tomatometer 12 Reviews 71% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings
Discharged naval officer Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns to his wife, Helen (Doris Dowling), in Hollywood after fighting in the South Pacific, and with him are two military friends, George (Hugh Beaumont) and shell-shocked Buzz (William Bendix). Johnny is stunned to discover Helen's unfaithfulness with a local nightclub owner named Eddie (Howard Da Silva), who then breaks it off with her. When Helen is found murdered, everyone seems to have a motive. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (12) Critics Reviews
Richard Brody New Yorker The core of the drama is the torment of the debilitated Buzz—and the hell reserved at home for heroes, who often faced their traumas in silence. Nov 7, 2022 Full Review James Agee The Nation It knows its own weight and size perfectly and carries them gracefully and without self-importance; it is, barring occasional victories and noble accidents, about as good a movie as can be expected from the big factories. Jun 23, 2021 Full Review H. Viggo Andersen Hartford Courant Alan Ladd and William Bendix are in rare form, and Miss Lake is seen to best advantage in many a film. Mar 31, 2021 Full Review Mike Massie Gone With The Twins The finale is smartly unpredictable, though by the time the killer is revealed, some of the steam and intensity has dissipated. Rated: 7/10 Aug 3, 2020 Full Review Thomas Delapa Boulder Weekly Rated: 3/5 Nov 4, 2005 Full Review Matthew Turner ViewLondon Rated: 4/5 Jul 1, 2005 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (97) audience reviews
Jay B Spectacular cast and story! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/13/23 Full Review matthew d All manner of intrigue and mystery surround this curious film noir. George Marshall's crime mystery film noir The Blue Dahlia (1946) finds a way to make Alan Ladd both the tough guy brawler, who doesn't take anything from anybody, while also finding some emotional core to his character going through a "wrong man" scenario. Ladd's lead role as Johnny Morrison is engaging as he tracks down clues as to who murdered his wife. His fights are brief, but very entertaining. I appreciate his quiet moments reflecting on his son or flirting with the ever gorgeous Veronica Lake. If I had a major complaint about The Blue Dahlia, it's simply that there's very little of Veronica Lake as Joyce Harwood in the movie. She shows up a quarter of the way through and only for a few memorable scenes of running away from her past and dreamily flirting with Alan Ladd towards a brighter future. The Blue Dahlia needed to utilize its star power further than quick moments in this dark thriller. William Bendix gets a huge supporting actor role as Buzz Wanchek. He's much funnier and more natural than he was in The Glass Key. I do think that he killed it portraying post-war trauma and conflicted feelings. I must mention that his character repeatedly uses a racial slur that is derogatory towards the black community when he refers to jazz as "monkey music." It's outdated, gross, racist, hateful, but the fact that screenwriter Raymond Chandler uses it so freely is upsetting and annoying. Chandler's dialogue has a real punch to it like his wild twists that let you think you've figured out the mystery until he springs a new trap on you. Howard Da Silva is not great until his final speech as the sleazy and old fashioned mug Eddie Harwood. Are we really supposed to believe this ugly, middle-aged man without any charm or personality could have made both Veronica Lake and Doris Dowling's repulsively selfish character Helen Morrison swoon? It's just too much. I hate the implication that Harwood's actions are practically condoned as this sexist womanizer. Dowling captivates you with her lush lady, whereas Lake is subtle with her endearing femme fatale. Will Wright's creepy ‘Dad' Newell is intriguing as a character in the script, but not that interesting as far as charisma goes. Arthur P. Schmidt's editing keeps you drawn in, but could have lost 10 minutes of filler as certain scenes just go on too long. It's only a 96 minute long film, so it should not have any excess already. Lionel Lindon's cinematography uses close-ups and tightly framed wide shots to show the viewer exactly what clue or which suspect to pay attention to in each second. Edith Head's outfits are lovely as usual for Doris Dowling's Helen, but it is every dazzling dress for Veronica Lake that impressed me the most. In short, The Blue Dahlia is a fair film noir with plenty of great moments. However, it drags on to its inevitable conclusion. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Tom M Perfect noire and great murder mystery. Ladd is at his best but it's the ensemble cast that makes this a classic. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/29/21 Full Review Audience Member Shooting on The Blue Dahlia began without a completed screenplay. There is a lack of command over the material by the director, perhaps because script pages were being seen just days before shooting. In fact, scriptwriter Raymond Chandler was forced to re-write the ending and suffered writer's block, and dissatisfaction with the process. All of these problems - and others - show on the screen. But, there are definitely some moments But, overall, I'm not a fan. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/13/23 Full Review Audience Member Good! Stylish and Classy! First rate acting to! Great Chandler dialog! Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review steve d Ladd and Lake are always great together even if the story is nothing special. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Blue Dahlia

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Discharged naval officer Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns to his wife, Helen (Doris Dowling), in Hollywood after fighting in the South Pacific, and with him are two military friends, George (Hugh Beaumont) and shell-shocked Buzz (William Bendix). Johnny is stunned to discover Helen's unfaithfulness with a local nightclub owner named Eddie (Howard Da Silva), who then breaks it off with her. When Helen is found murdered, everyone seems to have a motive.
Director
George Marshall
Producer
John Houseman
Screenwriter
Raymond Chandler
Distributor
Paramount Pictures
Production Co
Paramount Pictures
Genre
Crime, Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Apr 18, 1946, Limited
Release Date (Streaming)
Aug 30, 2016
Runtime
1h 36m
Sound Mix
Mono
Aspect Ratio
35mm
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