The Blue Dahlia (1946)

96, 98 or 100 mins | Film noir | 18 April 1946

Director:

George Marshall

Producer:

John Houseman

Cinematographer:

Lionel Lindon

Editor:

Arthur Schmidt

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Walter Tyler

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Raymond Chandler wrote his first original screenplay for this film. According to modern sources, shooting began before Chandler finished the script, which had to be submitted to the Navy Department for approval. In Chandler's published letters, he says that he "threatened to walk off the picture, not yet finished, unless they stopped the director from putting in fresh dialogue out of his own head. As to the scenes of violence, I did not write them that way at all...The broken toe incident was an accident. The man actually did break his toe, so the director immediately capitalized on it." Chandler also noted that the Navy Department altered the outcome of the story. In Chandler's words, "What the Navy Department did to the story was a little thing like making me change the murderer and hence making a routine whodunit out of a fairly original idea." According to Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA urged the studio to remove the suggestion of "Johnny" jabbing his thumb in "Leo's" eye and asked that a closeup of "Corelli" being beaten up be omitted and that the line "When I was a kid in Chicago I saw a cop shoot a little white dog to death" be changed or omitted.
       Much of the film was shot on location in Hollywood and the surrounding Los Angeles area, including the Hollywood bus station and a row of Cahuenga Boulevard USO centers and canteens frequented by servicemen; Cahuenga Pass; a site near the Griffith Park Observatory; the Sunset Strip and the Bel Air Bay Club in Beverly Hills; the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica; Malibu and Encino. HR news items ... More Less

Raymond Chandler wrote his first original screenplay for this film. According to modern sources, shooting began before Chandler finished the script, which had to be submitted to the Navy Department for approval. In Chandler's published letters, he says that he "threatened to walk off the picture, not yet finished, unless they stopped the director from putting in fresh dialogue out of his own head. As to the scenes of violence, I did not write them that way at all...The broken toe incident was an accident. The man actually did break his toe, so the director immediately capitalized on it." Chandler also noted that the Navy Department altered the outcome of the story. In Chandler's words, "What the Navy Department did to the story was a little thing like making me change the murderer and hence making a routine whodunit out of a fairly original idea." According to Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA urged the studio to remove the suggestion of "Johnny" jabbing his thumb in "Leo's" eye and asked that a closeup of "Corelli" being beaten up be omitted and that the line "When I was a kid in Chicago I saw a cop shoot a little white dog to death" be changed or omitted.
       Much of the film was shot on location in Hollywood and the surrounding Los Angeles area, including the Hollywood bus station and a row of Cahuenga Boulevard USO centers and canteens frequented by servicemen; Cahuenga Pass; a site near the Griffith Park Observatory; the Sunset Strip and the Bel Air Bay Club in Beverly Hills; the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica; Malibu and Encino. HR news items list Grady Sutton and Ray Teal in the cast, but they were not in the released film. Chandler was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). This film marked Alan Ladd's first screen appearance since his discharge from the army. Ladd and Veronica Lake were first teamed together in This Gun for Hire . The Blue Dahlia marked the third time they were featured co-stars. In 1942, Paramount released The Glass Key , which also starred Ladd, Lake and featured William Bendix. For further information on the popular co-stars, see the entries for This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key below. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Feb 1946.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jan 46
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Feb 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 45
p. 42.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 45
p. 6, 7
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 45
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 46
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Jan 46
p. 2786.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Feb 46
p. 2829.
New York Times
9 May 46
p. 27.
Variety
30 Jan 46
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Fred Nay
Ricci Ricardo
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A George Marshall Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd cam
Asst cam
Still man
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
Ladies' ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup supv asst
Makeup asst
Makeup secy
Body makeup artist
Hair supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Asst prod mgr
Casting
Scr clerk
Stage eng
Mike grip
Secy to prod
Secy to dir
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 April 1946
Production Date:
26 March--22 May 1945
retakes and added scenes: 18 July 1945
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 February 1946
Copyright Number:
LP261
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96, 98 or 100
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10874
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Three discharged United States Navy officers, Johnny Morrison, Buzz Wanchek and George Copeland, arrive in Hollywood, California. Buzz is suffering from shell shock and has a metal plate in his head above his ear; George was released for bad eyesight; and Johnny was given leave after heroic actions in the South Pacific. Johnny surprises his wife Helen and discovers that she is having an affair with Eddie Harwood, owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub on the Sunset Strip. Helen, drunk, confesses to Johnny that their son Dickie, whom Johnny believed died of diptheria, actually died in a car crash that occurred because she was driving drunk. Johnny pulls a gun on Helen, but drops it and leaves. Unaware of Helen's identity, Buzz goes to her bungalow for a drink. After Eddie ends the affair, Helen blackmails him into seeing her again. Johnny, meanwhile, is picked up in the rain by Joyce Harwood, who is separated from Eddie. Neither reveals their name, and they spend the night in separate rooms in a Malibu inn. The next morning, the radio announces that Helen has been murdered and that Johnny is suspected. "Dad" Newell, a house detective who saw Johnny fight with Helen and witnessed Buzz and Eddie enter her bungalow, goes to the police. Buzz and George are picked up for questioning, but Buzz remembers nothing. After Johnny checks into a cheap hotel under an assumed name, Corelli, the hotel manager, finds Johnny's photo of himself with Dickie and tries to blackmail him. Johnny beats Corelli up, then discovers that on the back of the photo, Helen has revealed that Eddie is really ... +


Three discharged United States Navy officers, Johnny Morrison, Buzz Wanchek and George Copeland, arrive in Hollywood, California. Buzz is suffering from shell shock and has a metal plate in his head above his ear; George was released for bad eyesight; and Johnny was given leave after heroic actions in the South Pacific. Johnny surprises his wife Helen and discovers that she is having an affair with Eddie Harwood, owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub on the Sunset Strip. Helen, drunk, confesses to Johnny that their son Dickie, whom Johnny believed died of diptheria, actually died in a car crash that occurred because she was driving drunk. Johnny pulls a gun on Helen, but drops it and leaves. Unaware of Helen's identity, Buzz goes to her bungalow for a drink. After Eddie ends the affair, Helen blackmails him into seeing her again. Johnny, meanwhile, is picked up in the rain by Joyce Harwood, who is separated from Eddie. Neither reveals their name, and they spend the night in separate rooms in a Malibu inn. The next morning, the radio announces that Helen has been murdered and that Johnny is suspected. "Dad" Newell, a house detective who saw Johnny fight with Helen and witnessed Buzz and Eddie enter her bungalow, goes to the police. Buzz and George are picked up for questioning, but Buzz remembers nothing. After Johnny checks into a cheap hotel under an assumed name, Corelli, the hotel manager, finds Johnny's photo of himself with Dickie and tries to blackmail him. Johnny beats Corelli up, then discovers that on the back of the photo, Helen has revealed that Eddie is really Bauer, a murderer wanted in New Jersey. Corelli revives and sells information on Johnny's identity to a gangster named Leo, who kidnaps him. Buzz and George visit Eddie at the Blue Dahlia, and Joyce introduces herself. As Joyce picks at a blue dahlia flower, the nightclub's music sets off a painful ring in Buzz's head, and lapsing into a fit, he remembers the agonizing music he heard while at Helen's bungalow as she played with a blue dahlia. Johnny escapes Leo's henchmen as Eddie arrives and forces him to admit that fifteen years before he was involved in the shooting of a bank messenger. Leo tries to shoot Johnny, but hits Eddie instead. Johnny flees to the Blue Dahlia, where the police are trying to force a confused Buzz to admit he killed Helen. Johnny enters and suggests that Joyce turn up the music. As his head pounds, Buzz remembers leaving Helen alive in her bungalow. Police Captain Henrickson then confronts Dad with the accusation that he he tried to blackmail Helen about her affair, and when she refused to comply, killed her. Dad then tries to escape from the office, but is shot by Henrickson. Later, outside the Blue Dahlia, Buzz and George decide to go for a drink, leaving Johnny and Joyce together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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