Saturday, November 17, 2012

231. In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place
Directed by Nicolas Ray

This is an incredible film that I have had never heard about until today.  There are some pretty big names associated with it so this could be due more to my ignorance than the obscurity of the film.  Still, this is movie is now possibly my favorite Bogie film (although it is a tough call between this and African Queen).

This story is about Dixon Steele, a screenwriter with a nasty temper.  He is a suspect in a murder involving a young woman but is saved from being arrested by Laurel Gray, a neighbor who gave the police a statement about where he was during the murder.  They, of course, fall in love as attractive people in movies do.  Soon, however, she becomes more and more scared of him and his temper.

Where to begin?  This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.  The acting is incredible, of course; Bogie plays perhaps the darkest character of his career so well that I even I was afraid of him.  Gloria Grahame, a rather underrated actress, is also amazing.  By the end of the film, she had managed to make me really emphasize with her character.  Though I was never in such an extreme situation, I too have been genuinely frightened of a man but at the same time I wanted to spare his feelings.  Scary situation.

The dialogue is also incredibly; my favorite line being something that Bogey's character writes: "I was born when she kissed me.  I died when she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." Truly an amazing film that is both dark and exciting.

Interesting Facts:

Gloria Grahame was separated from her husband, the director, during filming.  She later ended up marrying her stepson (?).

In the book, Steele was a serial killer and a rapist.

People who knew Bogie thought that this role was closest to how he was in real life.  Yikes.


  1. I 100% agree with this review. I was blown away, and it is kind of odd that you don't hear about this one as much as "Maltese Falcon" or "To Have and Have Not." I kind of want to read the novel but I think the ending of the film was so suspenseful and unexpected.

  2. I really shouldn't be leaving all the 'archive diving' to Rachel.. I should have a go at digging up great films you covered, and wrote about.. and didn't get the deserved recognition at the time.
    Yes, a cracking film..
    Likewise Amanda..the supposed similarity between Steele and Bogart is not something I want to know.. being a great Bogart fan .. it distresses me to know that I'd in fact dislike him if we'd ever met.

  3. This is one of my favorite hidden treasures from The List. And I agree, Ray. Just as long as I could get along with Lauren Bacall, I'm fine.

  4. I agree. This is a genuinely scary movie and large thanks to Bogie. If this is how he really was I feel disillusioned.

  5. This is so underrated! I love it

  6. Watched the first half of this last night before falling asleep on the sofa thinking how unremarkable and average it was. Woke up this morning (still on the sofa), watched the second half and admired how remarkable and complex it was. There's a lesson in there about paying proper attention to these things and not judging them harshly just because we watched them when we weren't in the mood.

    Talking of harsh judgements, I think we should be a little careful how closely we assume Bogart to be in real life like his character Dixon. I don't think that Bogey was ever accused of wife-beating nor had to be stopped from bashing a stranger's head in with a rock. Or any of the other things in a movie that were required to make us wonder if he really were a murderer. More that he was on edge, insecure yet charming. Characteristics that apply to many people caught inside Hollywood's bubble.

  7. Dessie, I find it upsetting to address this, but I'm afraid the consensus from people who knew him is that he WAS very similar. He and his wife previous to LB frequently had very violent fights in public. OK, this was not 'wife beating' in the normally accepted meaning .. she was frequently violently drunk, was the main instigator of the fights and was certainly no weak defenceless abused wife. If Humph hadn't been more than able as giving as good s he got, he'd almost have been the domestic abuse 'victim'

    1. You're clearly better informed on the subject than me so I won't use my extensive two-minute glance at Wikipedia to try and justify a counter-position. I just get uncomfortable when we, the common people, think we know someone based upon what we read through the media, especially when we feel we're in a position to form a judgement on what type of person they "are".

  8. Well, that's the trade off to being a movie star. That's why they are paid the big bucks.