Great On Screen Couples: Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake
This duo made 4 films together plus one more where they played themselves. Their coming together as on screen partners was at first mainly out of physical necessity: Ladd was just 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and the only actress then on the Paramount lot short enough to pair with him was Lake, who stood just 4 feet 11½ inches (1.51 m). So in their first pairing, This Gun For Hire (1942),which had Lake top billed as a singing magician trying to ferret out some enemy agents and Ladd as a hired killer looking for payback against the spies who double-crossed him. Audiences loved Ladd in this film and when it came time to reunite him and Lake in another film, The Glass Key (1942), he moved up from 4th billing to third. Both films were big hits for Paramaount. And the studio brought them back together for the third time in 1946's masterful film noir classic The Blue Dahlia where Ladd received top billing as his star was on the rise, while Lake's career was stalling. But their chemistry was still apparent as Blue Dahlia remains a film noir favorite. The duo played themselves in all star variety flick, Duffy's Tavern, which really is not fondly remembered as a bright spot for either star. Their fourth and final film was 1948's Saigon, which is widely regarded as the weakest film the pair did. Lake's career pretty much sputtered after the 40's ended while Ladd would go on to star in 30 more films inlcuding probably his most fondly remembered role as the laconic gunfighter Shane. But for three really good films, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd joined the ranks of great Hollywood on screen couples.