The New Beverly couldn't have picked a better week to show these two Raymond Chandler greats. With post New Year's euphoria drying up (who hasn't already had at least one personal let down already?) and a week of L.A. rain, my head is in just the right space to receive Chandler's particular brand of darkness. Granted, he's not the actual writer of the original Double Indemnity story-- that would be the brilliant James M. Cain-- but Chandler and director Billy Wilder took the original novel and tightened it around the edges of the Hays code. D.I. is tight and tense with double entendres strewn throughout, ample location shots and intense performances from its co-stars-- Walter Neff is certainly Fred MacMurray's shining cinematic moment.
IMO the Blue Dahlia is one of Chandler's most underrated efforts; it's also my favorite Veronica Lake film. I'm sure that the fact that Raymond himself badmouthed it from the beginning helped set it on course for secondary status among his fans. I feel it's far superior to This Gun For Hire, which also featured Lake's co-star Alan Ladd. The Dahlia is heavy on atmosphere, quick dialogue, and features a deep supporting cast, including Hugh Beaumont, best known as Ward Cleaver, the father from Leave It To Beaver. Considering that most people only know MacMurray from My Three Sons and Beaumont from the Beav, this double feature goes a long way in showing what cool careers some of the 50's & 60's sitcom actors had before settling down into squaresville.