Underneath this Veronica Lake–Alan Ladd thriller (1946) lies Raymond Chandler‘s only original screenplay—a suitably hard-nosed affair about a war vet whose homecoming coincides with the murder of his unfaithful wife. Though it has the Chandler flavor and occasionally captures the feel of his sunbaked Los Angeles, the film falters under the uncertain, visually uninventive direction of George Marshall—wildly miscast here, when any vaguely sympathetic hack from Stuart Heisler to Frank Tuttle would have been just fine. With William Bendix and Howard da Silva.
James M. Cain‘s pulp classic (1944), as adapted by Raymond Chandler and directed by Billy Wilder. Barbara Stanwyck is perfectly cast as a Los Angeles dragon lady burdened with too much time, too much money, and a dull husband. Fred MacMurray (less effectively) is the fly-by-night insurance salesman who hopes to relieve her of all three. Wilder trades Cain’s sun-rot imagery for conventional film noir stylings, but the atmosphere of sexual entrapment survives. With Edward G. Robinson.