Tuesday, September 02, 2014

the blue dahlia [1946]

one of the best movies i've seen in quite a long time.  directed by george marshall, written by raymond chandler, starring alan ladd as a WWII bomber pilot, veronica lake as a mobster's moll, and william bendix as ladd's WWII pal who sustained a brain injury during the war, this film is great noir filmmaking.

anna and i caught this flick on TCM sunday night when we were unpacking from our vacation.  i love the clipped tuff-guy street patter of these noir pics.  i could close my eyes and just listen to its language.

the gist is this, ladd returns to l.a. after the war with his two veteran pals, including bendix, and finds his wife is not only a lush but unfaithful too.  she is carrying on with a mobster who is married to veronica lake.  later the wife is murdered.  ladd is a lead suspect.

the plot is full of winding turns and twists yet it is not very difficult to guess who might be the killer.  when we do find out who killed ladd's wife it is a bit of a letdown.  the reasons for murder by this individual seemed tacked on by chandler and marshall.

still, it is a gorgeously photographed movie.  lake is a real blond bombshell.  ladd is solid as the man wrongly accused of a horrendous crime.  bendix is just freaking great as the troubled but loyal pal.

i mentioned loving the language of noir cinema.  spoken language in this pic is clipped, cadenced and heavily salted with double-negatives.  there is a real beauty in the dialogue.  poems should be composed in it.  nevertheless, this movie gives me hope that perhaps the human species can do a few good things.  like create moving art and music.  for this movie is a testament of vernacular cinema composed at the first intensity.  


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