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The Blue Dahlia - R2 DVD


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Just in case anyone else's interested, here's a review of the brand-new DVD of The Blue Dahlia that's just been released in the U.K.

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews24/the_blue_dahlia.htm

 

Awesome that there's at least an R2 DVD, will be better when they release it stateside! :)

 

P.S. They also reviewed The Glass Key

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews24/the_glass_key.htm

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  • 1 month later...

*sigh*. I may just have to "bite the bullet" and order this, since it never turns up on TCM and it's my favorite noir, along with Laura and On Dangerous Ground. I agree with dvdbeaver that is crying out for a commentary by someone knowledgeable, like Eddie M.

 

I don't understand all these conflicting "Region" releases.

 

Miss G

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  • 6 months later...
  • 5 months later...

I just watched this dvd of my favorite Alan Ladd noir (and third favorite noir of all), after finally getting it in the mail from overseas (they lost it the first time, and had to send a replacement). I used to watch *The Blue Dahlia* vhs tape I had in California so much it wore out but it was like seeing it for the first time again last night---almost. I still remember most the scenes between Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd when she picks him up, a hitchhiker, in the rain on the way to Malibu. What I didn't remember was how few scenes they actually share and how small her part actually is, "on paper" at least. She's does turn up in surprising places though, almost like a pixie, to Ladd's bemusement. Their relationship never really gels, yet it's precisely this that seems rather realistic, given the sand that everyone's lives seems built upon in this post-war L.A. landscape.

 

I was deep into Chandler when I first watched The Blue Dahlia, and I still think it's one of the best sounding scripts I've listened to in a movie. I don't know if it's any easier to follow than The Big Sleep so you do have to pay attention. But it does have the Chandler bite, cynicism and one or two bits of pathos ("Every guy's seen you before...the trick is to find you.")

 

Basically the plot is: "Johnny" (Alan Ladd) is home in L.A. (where no one ever actually seems to have a "home"---only places to lodge, however grand or gritty) with his two pals from the war to be welcomed by a less than thrilled wife (poisonous Doris Dowling) who views him as an interruption to pleasantly carrying on an affair with nightclub owner "Eddie Harwood" (Howard DaSilva). After a fight with hubby, he walks out and she ends up dead and now Johnny is on the lamb when he meets Veronica-in-the-rain. His search for his wife's killer takes him to some of the seedier parts of town (and some of the seediest images in noir---as low down as anything shown in later films. The scenes at the fleabag motel are just about the most authentically Chandleresque I've ever seen). Along the way it's revealed his loving wife had a few visitors that night after he left, any one of whom could have done the deed.

 

This production, while not as stylish as Howard Hawks' more celebrated version of Chandler's The Big Sleep, feels much more in tune with what Southern California must have been like after the war. There aren't as many location shots as I had thought---but those that appear do their job to lend authenticity and make The Big Sleep look and feel completely stage-bound in comparison. I can't resist making the comparison because there are many similarities, the main difference being the central character is not a professional detective, yet Johnny does still have to act as one to piece together the mystery of his wife's murder.

 

The director George Marshall never really rose to a "distinguished" level in his career, and I think some may find The Blue Dahlia a very unspectacular film noir visually. It's more talky than vividly expressionistic, but I've always been content with steady-as-she-goes direction and this was no detraction in my estimation. Despite the talkiness and the somewhat steady pace, characters are more impressionistic than revealed in depth. We don't ever really get to know much about "Johnny" (Alan Ladd) beyond the recent disintigration of his marriage to a girl who just wants to have fun (a la Virginia Mayo in The Best Years of Our Lives. She even manifests the same disappointment at seeing him out of uniform), and that his only real connection to any human beings is to his two war time pals, Hugh Beaumont and the shell-shocked William Bendix. Even less is revealed about Veronica's character and how she ever ended up the bride of Howard da Silva.

 

The supporting players get more meat out of their parts: besides Beaumont and Bendix, crotchety old Will Wright is on hand---in fact he's almost omnipresent, Doris Dowling energetically works her sour glamour and cops, motel managers, hoods (Don Costello, Frank Faylen), switchboard operators, soldiers and restaurant owners get their moments to shine. Such sketchiness adds up to a series of now stock noir images, dialogue and a through-line of sleazy post-war slackness---but not much coherence plot-wise. It's a case of the individual parts being much more than the whole, I think. I always come away thinking about what happened to the characters and even though I didn't get to know anyone deeply, I did find them curiously real and much less "movie movie" like than those in The Blue Dahlia's big sister, The Big Sleep.

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This is a great movie, I am also glad I have the opportunity to own a code free DVD player because I couldn't own this with out it.

I own this R2 DVD. Its a great transfer and its a great film.

I went binging and bought Blue Dahlia, Alligator, Warlords of Atlantis , Vault of Horror and the Glass Key all at once

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Hi, Miss Gun For Hire! -- Wow! That was a fantastic write-up for The Blue Dahlia! I've never seen the film but you've got me wanting to see it now. I surely hope to in time.

 

So how is it that a sappy Gone with the Wind girl ends up getting into Chandler in her late-teens and early-twenties? Is it because you wanted to immerse yourself in your new world of L.A.? And what has happened to you since? You were a cool chick then but now you're an icy dame. What the heck happened? :P:P

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I read a lot more than I do now. I think I must have heard about Chandler through the old Hollywood movies (I read Dash Hammet first, because of The The Thin Man; I 've read just about everything Hammet and Chandler ever wrote) and in association with Hemingway and the "hard boiled" style.

 

I read Margaret Mitchell first of course, and Zane Grey. :)

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