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The Blue Dahlia [DVD]
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on 9 August 2009
Thank you very much Universal for ruining this dvd with your insulting , patronising, anti-piracy film tagged onto this excellent Alan Ladd, Bendix fim in good picture quality and sound.

I can read the anti-piracy text at the beginning and so do not need another anti-piracy film film with cheap images and music rammed down my throat at the end.

I do not want to be subjected to what sounded like an 18 year old lecturing me about anti-piracy. Classic cinema is supposed to be an art form. Maybe someone should tell Universal . Why do they cheapen it with their unsolicited and insulting messages not warned about on the packaging ?

One star for Universal (3 for the film).

When I buy an audio CD I am not subjected to listening to anti-piracy messages to spoil it, so why does anyone think it acceptable on a dvd ?

I do not intend to buy any more Universal dvd products as a result of them treating me as a potential criminal.
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on 2 April 2017
This complex noir thriller brings back the partnership of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in a story which may have been even more relevant post-war, with returning servicemen hoping they can return to their lives pre-war. Unfortunately, this was a pipe dream as far as some were concerned. The return home for Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd), Buzz (William Bendix) and George was not quite so good for Johnny when he finds that his wife,Helen, has hit the booze-and-party circuit at the posh end of Los Angeles which included her boyfriend Eddie. The first meeting between Johnny and Eddie was not very polite and ends up with Eddie being socked in the mouth. This is followed by Helen telling him that she's going to do what she likes with her life,including boozing ; maybe that is what many returning servicemen were to experience.

As the thriller develops, the fact that Johnny pulled a gun on Helen but did not use it becomes a factor in who killed her. The very seedy hotel detective who is called to the crime by Helen's cleaner brings the police into it. Johnny has long gone to find a hotel to live in temporarily; he is alone,disillusioned and stuck in a rainstorm with no taxis available. The rainstorm became another clue to the solving of Helen's murder. The characters involved are examined and one is never sure how they all fit in and if they are whom they say they are. Picked out as a possibility is Buzz who has a plate in his head and suffers from headaches and whose demeanour can be aggressive. The sound of loud swing/jazz brings him out in a rage and everybody seems to be playing it. Eddie Harwood,Helen's boyfriend, owns a night club called 'The Blue Dahlia' which he runs with a partner. Characters with ferret faces and moustaches signalled villainy and night clubs in thrillers are always places where nefarious deeds are done.

Into Johnny's life comes another woman who turns out to be Eddie's estranged wife. He is on the run after hearing over the radio that his wife had been killed, whilst previously he had just left his faithless wife. In the course of the action he is waylaid by thugs whose boss seems to be Eddie's partner. Whilst he does not know it,a clue to his innocence has been in his suitcase all the time, a photograph of Johnny,Helen and their dead son. He did not die of diptheria but was killed in a road crash in a car driven by a drunken Helen. It was what Helen had written on the back of the photo which was of some interest to the police but was not a revelation as to who shot her. As is usual with noir, there were all the narrative trails which led to dead ends and there were quite a few actual dead ends in the film. Attention is focused on Buzz who has all the headaches - was it him?

Unfortunately, when the villain is revealed at the police office,it is rather an anti-climax as by then the list of suspects had come down to one. However, the film was an interesting journey whose narrative twisted and turned and kept the audience interested. The screenplay by Raymond Chandler did not, unfortunately, carry the great one-liners which feature in his hard-boiled novels and films like 'The Big Sleep' and 'Farewell my Lovely' but it is a very good,well-constructed thriller which is workmanlike in its direction by George Marshall. It does tell the story with the action moving between the scenes with clipped dialogue. In other words, this was a worthy member of the noir club.
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on 2 October 2014
very pleased with this purchase. very good condition and arrived not long after it was ordered.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2010
'The Blue Dahlia' was famously written at tremendous speed by Raymond Chandler - aided by copious amounts of alcohol - and was a big hit in its day, but - unlike the first Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake colloboration 'This Gun for Hire,' it has not stood the test of time that well.

Many of the classic noir elements are present - a brooding Ladd (though he's a goodie, which rather undermines his steely threat); the laconic Lake; some sharp dialogue; the odd effective external shot - but Chandler's script was messed about with and a new 'killer' imposed by nervous studio executives, who thought the writer's first choice of villain would offend some people. Because the film was put together at such speed, some of the earlier scenes are clearly building to killer number one being unmasked. The actual denouement is a head-scratching anti-climax.

Forties films about returning servicemen facing dislocation and trouble were extremely popular - unsurprisingly - among the cinema-going public (many of whom were returning servicemen facing dislocation and trouble) and 'The Blue Dahlia' belongs in the DVD collection of any film noir completist, in my opinion, because it's got Alan Ladd in it and the man was incapable of not grabbing your attention, despite his miserable life, lack of inches etc.

(Pointless anorak point, as most people know, the 'Black Dahlia' murder victim - Elizabeth Short - got her unfortunate handle from this film; riding high in the box office at the time of her still unsolved slaying.)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 February 2017
Although director George Marshall’s 1946 noir is perhaps most noted for re-uniting Alan Ladd with Veronica Lake for the third time, the pairing I’m referring to here is that between the actress and the film’s screenwriter, Raymond Chandler. OK, Ladd is solid as the phlegmatic, increasingly maudlin, discharged navy man, Johnny Morrison, returning to LA to find his wife up to no good, but it is Lake, as the free-spirited Joyce Harwood, whose sultry glamour and seemingly nonchalant delivery that commands the screen (the dissolve marking her 'unveiling’ being a highpoint) and Chandler’s variously sharp, hard-boiled and ironic script which brings smiles to the face repeatedly. Of course, the details of Chandler’s twisting plot, peppered as it is with credibility-stretching coincidences, requires the viewer to suspend disbelief but, within that constraint, writer and director do a pretty good job of keeping us (and most of the screen characters) guessing as to who the culprit might be for the film’s pivotal murder.

The film’s plot is too convoluted to really get into (almost as convoluted as Chandler’s The Big Sleep, in fact), suffice to say that Morrison and Harwood find themselves seemingly on the wrong side of the law, following the murder of Johnny’s wife. Of the latter event we are (or, at least, I was) eternally grateful, as Doris Dowling’s histrionic turn as Helen is one of the film’s few weak spots. Elsewhere, though, William Bendix is typically impressive (if also, at times, a little OTT) as Johnny’s volatile navy pal, Buzz Wanchek, suffering with shrapnel in his skull, and Howard Da Silva also good as the smooth-talking Blue Dahlia nightclub-owner and ex-partner to Joyce, Eddie Harwood – both characters attracting police attention as potential murderers. Excellent ‘murky’ character support is also provided by Will Wright as the veteran house detective and ex-cop, 'Dad’ Newell, looking to make a quick buck via his inside information and by Howard Freeman’s street-wise hotel man, Corelli.

The film’s look is relatively unspectacular, too much light to constitute a really dark noir, with cinematographer Lionel Lindon just giving us a handful of standout shots – the ground-level shot of an incapacitated Johnny looking through chair-legs, plus some close-ups of Buzz’s manic visage springing to mind. For me, Marshall’s film, as a noir, is not in the same league as the likes of Double Indemnity (Chandler’s script for Wilder is far superior), The Maltese Falcon, The Big Heat, The Big Sleep, etc. Nevertheless, The Blue Dahlia has enough going for it to merit a viewing and to be a must see for all noir fans.
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on 5 June 2010
Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns from the war to his wife Helen (Doris Dowling). However, she has been tarting about behind his back with Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva) and she is also responsible for the death of Johnny's son. This revelation proves too much for Johnny and he walks out. However, Helen is shot that night and Johnny becomes the number one suspect. He forms an alliance with Eddie's wife Joyce (Veronica Lake) and the film becomes a murder mystery. Who-dunnit....?

The acting honours go to Howard Da Silva as the confident nightclub owner and Doris Dowling as the partying floozy, followed by Alan Ladd in the lead role. William Bendix as Johnny's buddy "Buzz" is really annoying. He shouts his way through the film and although he gets much credit for playing an ex-serviceman with shell-shock, the truth is that he is irritating. What's also irritating is the habit Buzz has of constantly repeating Johnny's name.

I wasn't sure what the film was about for the first half hour or so. It's entertaining but I didn't know where it was going until we got the murder. The film gets a bit slow in parts. The story also stretches credulity with the rather convenient meeting between Johnny and Joyce and their association with each other. The ending is also a cop-out. Although the film keeps you guessing as to the identity of the murderer (I didn't guess it), all is ultimately revealed in a very poor confession from out of the blue. Tacky. It could have been much better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 April 2014
This is a good "film noir" with excellent performances of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake - but somehow hurt by the ending. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Released from duty Navy pilot Lieutenant Commander Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns home to Hollywood from the fighting in the south Pacific, bringing along his buddies and medically discharged crewmates Buzz Wanchek (William Bendix) and George Copeland (Hugh Beaumont). He is apprehensive of return home, because his marriage was already in bad shape before even his departure.

Indeed, his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) is currently having an affair with Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva), the owner of the renowned "Blue Dahlia" nightclub. Ironically, Harwood himself, all tough guy that he is, still longs for the return of his estranged wife Joyce (Veronica Lake) as her departure left him with a broken heart... Then, very soon after Johnny's return disaster strikes - and then the film really begins...

For most of the film the scenario is quite solid, the story good and the dialogs strong and it is only normal, as the screenplay was written by Raymond Chandler in person - and he got a well deserved Oscar nomination for that one. However, when the film was almost finished, the producers decided to completely change the ending, in a very clumsy way - something which Chandler didn't like at all and it caused considerable tensions between him, the producers, the director and both main actors... In fact, to say things bluntly, Raymond Chandler insulted everybody he could and even attempted to take over the shooting of some scenes calling the director "a stale old hack". The ending is indeed the weakest part of this film and is the reason why I cannot rate "Blue Dahlia" more than four stars.

"Blue Dahlia" was the third film Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake did together and as in previous occasions they have a great chemistry on the screen and as consequence they give a great show. Supporting actors did also a great job, with special mention to William Bendix.

Sadly, during the work on this film there was also an ugly incident between Raymond Chandler, who was in those times almost permanently drunk and Veronica Lake. This gorgeous actress was at that time a happily married mother of three and when one day a morbidly drunk Chandler put the moves on her, she rebuked him loud and clear. To get even, Chandler started to badmouth her everywhere and everytime he could, infamously nicknaming her "Moronica". For many months after that Veronica Lake, who was always psychologically fragile (she was diagnosed with relatively mild schizophrenia already in her childhood), suffered a lot because of vicious insults and poor taste jokes circulated by this gifted but definitely not very nice author...

The film was a box office hit and its notoriety inspired some journalists who wrote articles about the (still unexplained today) murder of Elizabeth Short. The body of this 22-years old woman, found on 15 January 1947 in Los Angeles, was horribly mutilated and the press turned this case into a real media circus. Elizabeth Short was an attractive but otherwise rather unremarkable young woman and in order to "upgrade" her profile journalists started to call her "Black Dahlia", after the title of the film which was at that time at the top of the box office. This is however the only connection "Blue Dahlia" has with this horrible murder...

Bottom line, this is a good, solid "film noir", featuring one of most beautiful women who ever lived - therefore, even if the ending doesn't make much sense, it is still a film well worth buying and seeing. Enjoy!
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on 28 December 2010
Black Dahlia or Blue Dahlia?

Well this film the Blue Dahlia preceded the real 'Black Dahlia' killing by a year, food for thought? Although there was no connection except for the 'Dahlia' name part, I guess many people who have seen 'Dahlia' style films such as L.A. Confidential and the De Palma Black Dahlia film, will no doubt be curious as to what this film has to offer.

I find these old 40's and 50's noir genre films very useful tools for research, as I like to write in this style. So I guess I look at them more analytically than just watching them as films for films sake.

Some reviewers have given less than flattering reviews to this film, but it has many good points I feel and as good as many other films of the era, it does take a whilet to get going but when it gets on rails, it goes.

There are some good scenarios and charachter back stories, the Buzz charachter for instance has a medical condition from a war injury which is treated in a kind of Christie-esque 'ABC murders' way, I won't give the plot away, but suffice to say that 'Buzz' becomes a candidiate for murder - so acquaint yourself with the Agatha Christie ABC Murdes case, which will help you understand that part of the film.

The Blue Dahlia story is pacy, remember this is 1946, not 2006, much less was permissable on screen then so the writing had to be clever. This film really has the 'Cluedo' feel about it, you know the main charachter didn't do it, so you have to work out who did.

The film delivers the climax scene in Harwood's Blue Dahlia club office which you'd find difficult to predict who the killer was, the cast charachters all weave their own little trails which are done well, the main charachter Johnny, played by Alan Ladd is well played, a man on an emotional journey trying to be thinking rationally at the same time and not knowing when someone flashing a badge at him is a real detective or some phoney.Veronica Lake as Blue Dahlia Club owner Harwood's wife is a curious enigma, cropping up on Johnny's tail all the while, you get the feeling as does he that somebody has organised this trail, what will happen next??

For an old film, the action and fight scenes are also well done, bearing in mind the constrictions of the censorship at the time.

The story ingredients are drip fed over the film and fall into place at the end, you'd almost like to see an end sequence of clips telling what the charachters did after the final scene.

A great film I think, certainly has it's place with the other Dahlia related films that followed!
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on 8 October 2016
Terrible blu-ray transfer. Do not waste your money.
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2017
Ex soldier Johnny Morrison returns home to find his wife kissing another man. He storms out and the next day the man his wife was kissing is found dead and he's the prime suspect. He teams up with two former army pals to clear his name. Excellent thrilling and tense, a classic 40's film noir the way Hollywood used to make them. Written by Raymond Chandler, the first film he wrote that was an original screenplay not based on one of his books, with excellent performances from Alan Ladd as Morrison and Veronica Lake as the wife of one of his old army pals, this is one of the all time great thrillers.
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