The blue dahlia: a screenplay

Front Cover
Southern Illinois University Press, Jun 1, 1976 - Drama - 139 pages
0 Reviews

A previously unpublished work by Raymond Chandler.



Raymond Chandler’s screenplay for The Blue Dahlia is a valuable addition to the published canon for the writer who has been called “the Shakespeare of hard­boiled fiction.” Converted from a never-completed novel, this screenplay is all that survives of the novel Chandler worked on between The Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister.


In 1944 Paramount Pictures, where Chandler was under contract, needed a rush script for Alan Ladd. Chandler agreed to cannibalize his novel-in-progress, but—as detailed in producer John Houseman’s memoir—he became stuck and decided that he could only complete his screenplay drunk. The Blue Dahlia was completed on schedule and was well received, earning Chandler his second Academy Award nomination.


Although the writer’s screenplay is metamorphosed by other hands in the movie-making process, the screenplay as written has an independent existence, and may be read and judged as a literary work. Indeed, the movie studio archives are a valuable literary resource; and it is inevitable that many screenplays will be published as the study of movies ex­pands.


The Blue Dahlia is the story of a war hero who is suspected of having mur­dered his unfaithful wife. Although it does not involve a private-eye, the work utilizes familiar elements of Chandler’s world: the loner hero, the quest for jus­tice, the sense of a corrupt society, and— above all—the theme of personal honor.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The celebrated Alan Ladd vehicle, turned out with alcoholic dispatch by a frazzled Chandler against an impossible deadline under conditions explained in John Houseman's introductory memoir. Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1976)

John Houseman, the producer of The Blue Dahlia, is now head of the Drama Division of the Juilliard School of Music.


Matthew J. Bruccoli, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is the author of the recently published The O’Hara Concern, a biog­raphy of John O’Hara.

Bibliographic information