Last night we had the good fortune to find a sitter who could stay late, so my husband G. Grod and I were able to take in Take-Up Productions noir double feature at The Heights of The Blue Dahlia and The Glass Key. Both star Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, with William Bendix in a scene-stealing supporting role.
The Blue Dahlia, from a screenplay by Raymond Chandler, has an excellent tagline: “Tamed by a brunette–framed by a blond–wanted by the police!” Ladd is a navy veteran who returns to an unfaithful wife. When she turns up dead, the police have many suspects, Ladd, Bendix and Lake among them. See the film’s trivia at imdb for the entertaining legend of Chandler’s writing process, and the connection between this film and the “Black Dahlia” scandal, later made into a book by James Ellroy and a film by Brian De Palma.
The Glass Key is based on a Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name. Ladd is the childhood friend of a powerful character with political aspirations. It wavers interestingly between their “bromance” and the triangle they have with Lake. Bendix plays an eager goon and an extended fight scene that’s simultaneously disturbing and entertaining. The film pulls its punch at the end with an incongruous happy ending, though one with some funny lines.
The Coen Brothers used Hammett’s Glass Key and Red Harvest as the basis for their excellent 1990 film Miller’s Crossing. Earlier, Red Harvest was the basis for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which was later remade as For a Fistful of Dollars, the first famous spaghetti western.
There’s one more film in this noir series, The Phantom Lady, on Monday 16 March 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Heights Theater. A Hitchcock series starts in April, and will be shown both at the Heights and The Riverview.