Review of The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Several elements turn The Blue Dahlia from a murder mystery into a true (blue) film noir. First, although Mrs. Morrison's infidelity doesn't seem to be that shocking, her confession about the truth of her son's death is. Having lied to Morrison that their son died of diptheria, she confesses that she killed him while driving drunk. Her manic laughter at the end of her confession gives no clue as to whether she has descended into alcoholism because she has been freed from the burden of childcare or because she has tried to numb herself. Second, Buzz's abrupt, violent rages suggest that although vindicated at the end of the film, he will eventually end up a murderer. Third, Ladd's expressionless face portrays Morrison as a disillusioned veteran who efficiently chokes his enemy into unconsciousness, a man whose face matches his inward lifelessness.

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