The blue dahlia: a screenplay
A previously unpublished work by Raymond Chandler.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.
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THE BLUE DAHLIA: A ScreenplayUser 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