4 Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd Movies

One of the great romantic pairings of the classic era, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd appeared in four films over the span of six years. Three were classic film noirs where Lake and Ladd sizzled on screen together. But while Ladd quickly rose to stardom and stayed there, Lake suffered from alcoholism and mental illness, and her career fizzled out by the time they made their fourth and final picture.

One of the great film noirs of all time, This Gun for Hire marked the first time Lake and Ladd appeared on screen together. Prior to this movie, both actors were relative unknowns. Lake was just becoming known to audiences thanks to starring opposite Joel McCrea in Preston Sturges' screwball classic Sullivan's Travels. Ladd, meanwhile, had small role in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941). Directed by Frank Tuttle, This Gun for Hire starred Ladd as Philip Raven, a ruthless contract killer who does his business without much thought or consequence. But after getting double crossed, he goes on the run and meets Ellen Graham (Lake), a nightclub singer who tries in vain to break through to his humanity, only to watch him slip back into old habits. Adapted from Graham Greene's novel, This Gun for Hire featured sizzling chemistry between Lake and Ladd, which is why it's no surprise both catapulted to stardom.

As he was still making This Gun for Hire, Ladd impressed Paramount Studio executives enough that they cast him in The Glass Key, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel of the same name. Actress Paulette Goddard was originally cast opposite Ladd, but dropped out due to a prior commitment. She was replaced with Patricia Morison, but executives saw This Gun for Hire and replaced Morison with Lake. Directed by Stuart Heisler, The Glass Key – which was previously made in 1935 with George Raft – featured Ladd as Ed Beaumont, the right-hand man to a crooked political boss (Brian Donlevy) who wants to back a populist candidate for governor (Moroni Olsen). Turns out the boss is really after the candidate's daughter, Janet (Lake), while Beaumont is tasked with fixing a murder. Naturally, Beaumont and Janet wind up falling for each other instead. Once again, Lake and Ladd were spectacular together despite growing difficulties behind the scenes.

Lake and Ladd reunited once again to make their third and final film noir together, The Blue Dahlia, which was based on an original screenplay written by Raymond Chandler. Prior to filming in 1945, Ladd was due to return to the army near the end of World War II, so the movie was rushed through production with Lake and co-star William Bendix already attached. Ladd played Johnny Morrison, a war veteran who comes home to find his wife (Doris Dowling) cheating with another man. She soon winds up dead and Morrison takes the blame. While on the run, he seeks the help of his wife's lover's ex-wife, Joyce (Lake), and tries to clear his name. The Blue Dahlia began production without an ending, but that turned out to be the least of the movie's problems. Chandler fiercely despised Lake – he dubbed her "Moronica Lake" – while the actress was becoming increasingly difficult to work with on set.

The fourth and final movie together, Saigon marked the end of a near perfect union that lasted a scant six years. Directed by Leslie Fenton, this romantic adventure set post-World War II focused on two veteran pilots, Larry Biggs (Ladd) and Pete Rocco (Wally Cassell). Both learn that their buddy, Mike (Douglas Dick), is terminally ill and set out to show him a good time. Along the way, they meet a shady businessman, Zlex Maris (Morris Carnovsky), who offers a tidy sum for passage to Vietnam. Meanwhile, his secretary Susan (Lake) shows up at the airport with half a million dollars and the police in hot pursuit. Biggs and company take off without Maris and crash land in the jungle, leading to a harrowing journey to Saigon that ends with Biggs and Susan falling in love. Critics were unimpressed with Saigon and the film was a flop. Ladd continued to be a top Paramount star – he would reach his pinnacle with the classic Western Shane (1953) – while Lake's career came to a crashing halt due to alcohol abuse and mental illness.