Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Blue Dahlia


The Blue Dahlia is the only original script that Raymond Chandler wrote for the movies. There were many adaptations of his books, and he worked on other screen plays but this is the one and only original. It’s a good one too, but writing it was not a happy experience for Chandler:

Halfway through the script, Chandler developed writers’ block. A former alcoholic, he’d become a teetotaler for health reasons. He decided that the only way he could get inspiration to finish the script was to get drunk. Chandler had originally agreed to write the screenplay for nothing ‘as a favour’ to John Houseman, the producer, but instead asked for a case of scotch as full payment. As a result and for several weeks, Chandler drank heavily, and at the end of that time, presented the finished script.[7]

Chandler received a lot of deference on the set, but Veronica Lake was not familiar with him; so, upon asking about him and being told, “he’s the greatest mystery writer around”, she made a point of listening intently to an analysis of his work by the film’s publicity director in order to impress newspaper reporters with her knowledge of a writer she had never read.[8] Chandler developed an intense dislike for Lake and referred to her as “Moronica Lake”.[9]

Unkind but hilarious. She did, however, have awesome hair.

The movie is full of colorful Chandlerian characters but William Bendix as Buzz Wanchek walks away with the film. Buzz was an unhinged veteran who muttered darkly about “monkey music” and lost his shit every time he heard it. I think he’d be running for office as a Tea Party Republican if he were around today.

Below are two lobby cards. The first one featuring a beffuddled looking Bendix. He did befuddled well in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat too. No monkey music in that flick though…



Alan Ladd was a very short man with a very large head. It’s a combination that’s still common among male movie stars such as Jack Nicholson and Leo DiCaprio. I understand there was more rattling around in Ladd’s head than Veronica’s…

Here’s the trailer:


4 thoughts on “Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Blue Dahlia

  1. When we were kids, there was a rumor circulating that Veronica Lake had only one eye, and she wore her hair to cover her glass eye.

    I was in love with “ye knocked-kneed Alan Ladd”, as he was referred to in a review of “The Black Knight”, words I have never forgotten. He had to stand on boxes in close-ups with his leading ladies.

  2. Bogart was also quite short as was Cagney. They too had large heads as do I. Michael Homan has long been obsessed with my head. Why? I’ll never know.

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