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Film / The Blue Dahlia

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The Blue Dahlia is a 1946 Film Noir, directed by George Marshall and written by Raymond Chandler, about a Navy officer who returns home to an unfaithful wife, who is later murdered. It stars Alan Ladd as the Navy officer, Johnny Morrison, and Veronica Lake as his Love Interest, Joyce Harwood, the wife of a mobster who is seeing Morrison's unfaithful wife, Helen (Doris Dowling). During the movie Johnny tries to solve the mystery of the murder of his wife while the police are looking for him as prime suspect.

William Bendix plays Buzz Wanchek, Johnny's Navy buddy. George, Johnny's other war buddy, is played by Hugh Beaumont, who a decade after this movie played his most famous role as Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver.

This has only a tangential connection with The Black Dahlia novel, or its film adaptation: the murder victim who inspired the latter works was compared by the media to a character in this film. 1998 Adventure Game Black Dahlia has no connection with either film.

This film provides examples of:

  • Amateur Sleuth: The house detective. And Johnny, who decides to find out for himself who the guilty party is.
  • Asshole Victim: Helen
  • Berserk Button: Buzz really, really dislikes "monkey music".
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Johnny is chatting with Joyce over breakfast at a beachside hotel. As Johnny is getting ready to leave, a radio that was completely silent before suddenly pipes up from somewhere offscreen with a report about the death of Helen Morrison.
  • Dead Man Writing: Johnny pulls a picture of his son out of a frame, and reveals a note from Helen, telling him that if something happens to her, Harwood's name is actually Bauer, and he's wanted for murder in New Jersey.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Leo and a Mook overpower Johnny. The mook goes through Johnny's pockets and finds the incriminating note from Helen. Leo, who didn't approve of the mook lifting the money from Johnny's wallet, promptly clubs the mook over the head and says "There's ethics in this business, the same as any other."
  • Gray Rain of Depression: The rain is pouring as Johnny leaves the bungalow after finding out about both Helen's infidelity and the truth of their son's death.
  • Lady Drunk: Helen is a bitter, angry alcoholic. She reveals to Johnny that their dead son wasn't killed by diptheria, he was killed when Helen crashed their car while drunk.
  • Motive Rant: The house detective resents everyone for looking down at him. Apparently Helen refused to pay his blackmail demands, whereupon he killed her.
  • Pig Latin: "Well well well, unkdray again", says the maid, except Helen isn't drunk, she's dead.
  • Red Herring: Neither the mobster with whom she was having an affair nor the war buddy of her husband killed her, while we are led to believe that one of them did.
  • The Reveal: The real killer is the Amateur Sleuth.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Buzz is pretty twitchy, and obviously damaged. He has a plate in his head from the war.
  • Title Drop: Eddie Harwood is the owner of The Blue Dahlia nightclub.