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For all the praise film-noir is lavished with (quite a lot of it valid),
the majority of it relies on convention as much as the standard
white-picket-fence, happy-ending 'family' film does: just invert the
cliches and bathe them in deep-focus shadows. While this movie, on its surface, resembles the classic-style film noir of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, it's a whole different animal. No calculating evil females or tough guys masking hearts of gold populate IN A LONELY PLACE. It's a much more wrenching and powerfully disturbing film because the murder that draws the protagonists together turns out to be of peripheral importance, while the love story between Humphrey Bogart's troubled screenwriter and Gloria Grahame's B-actress spins inexorably towards damnation completely on its own power. The basic story has him a suspect in a killing and her in love with him yet unsure of his innocence, but director Nicholas Ray stages the proceedings so that WE see it's not the murder that disturbs her but her own conviction that his self-destructive and volatile nature will destroy them both. Yet, Ray never takes the easy way out of having Bogart turn monster on her. You care deeply about these people, hoping desperately (as Bogart's agent does in the film) that some transforming moment will come that will spare these people and allow their deeply felt love to flourish and heal them both, even as the evidence before your own eyes tells you there ain't no way. For 1950 -hell, for any year- such an unsentimental and uncompromising treatment of a tragic adult relationship is a terrible wonder to behold. The shadows suffusing this excellent film come not from UFA-influenced lighting but from moral and spiritual desolation, the death throes of old Hollywood, the coming of McCarthyism and the Black Dahlia murder of 1947. But most of all, they're projected from within the characters themselves. The finest work of Bogart, Grahame and Ray. Special note should be taken of Ray and Grahame, whose own deteriorating relationship formed the template for the doomed lovers; for them, this film is an act of great courage. Bogart himself has taken elements of all his previous romantic loners and blended them with the sour pigments of Fred C Dobbs; as the star and executive producer, his performance is unflinching in its honesty, and as fearless as Grahame and Ray. See this movie.
Nicholas Ray is a director who has almost been forgotten these days, despite making brilliant movies like 'They Live By Night', 'On Dangerous Ground', 'Johnny Guitar' and 'Rebel Without A Cause', and numbering Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders among his fans (the latter even gave him a small role in his 'The American Friend'). 'In A Lonely Place' could be Ray's best. It's a fascinating movie that mixes drama, suspense and romance in a very interesting way. You could call it Noir I suppose, but it's a very difficult movie to tie down. Humphrey Bogart plays a bitter, hard drinking and frequently violent screen writer who becomes a murder suspect when a young girl (Martha Stewart) is killed. Gloria Grahame ('Crossfire', 'The Big Set Up') is a neighbour who supplies him with an alibi. This odd way of meeting leads into a romance. At first everything is wonderful, and Bogart is even writing again, but bit by bit Grahame starts to see his dark side and begins to fear him, even suspecting that he may have been involved in the murder after all. I don't think I've ever seen Bogart better. It's a terrific performance, and while his character can be charming at times he's also surprisingly unlikeable and intense (we are told he broke an old girlfriend's nose, for example. Imagine Mel Gibson or Brad Pitt doing that in a movie today and still being the romantic lead!). Grahame pulls off a difficult role too, being torn between love and terror. They both make a great team. Such a pity they never worked together after this. I also liked Frank Lovejoy ('House Of Wax', 'The Hitch-Hiker') who plays Bogart's cop buddy. 'In A Lonely Place' is a movie not to be overlooked. I thought it was superb entertainment.
This is one of my all time favourite films, and (alongside the obvious -
Casablanca, Maltese Falcon etc) my favourite Bogart.
The script is smart, witty and cynical, just like a typical Bogart character. But in this film Bogart plays probably his darkest character.
In some of the scenes with Gloria Graeme he's at his smooth, wisecracking, slightly irritable best, but in the moments where the anger and the fog of despair descends he is a more threatening character than in any of his other leading man roles.
The cynical, darker aspects of this film just go to highlight how few contemporary films are prepared to be so bleak.
Despite the fact that the plot is ostensibly a 'did he do it?' crime story, this is largely inconsequential to the psychological character and relationship study that is the central concern of the film.
If you like a cracking script with sharp performances, with all kinds of deep psychological observations on love and loneliness to be read into it, in the best noir tradition, this is the film for you.
Bogart stretches his acting muscles and allows his vulnerability to be on display in this realistic gut-wrenching love story. Gloria Grahame, one of the underrated great US actresses of the 40's and 50's, has an electrifying chemistry with Bogie, touching a side that we'd never seen -- not even with Lauren Bacall, laced with an odd kind of violent tenderness. Frank Lovejoy heads a fantastic supporting cast, heavy on three-dimensional characterisations. This unknown classic is Bogie's most complete performance ever. I give it 10 out of 10.
Very adult film about a surly Hollywood writer, a would be actress, and a murder. Among the very best Bogart performances, yet this film is practically unknown. Top notch acting across the board. Bogart and Grahame are a terrific team (she is the designing actress), but also good are Frank Lovejoy, Jeff Donnell (as his wife), Martha Stewart (no not that one) as the murder victim, Art Smith as the agent, and Robert Warwick (just wonderful) as the washed-up actor. Everything in the story revolves around Hollywood and movie making, but this is NOT really a film about Hollywood; it's a murder mystery. Great script is full of memorable lines, and all the supporting actors are sharp. Ruth Warren is funny as the maid, and Ruth Gillette is really spooky as the masseuse. Carl Benton Reid is the Lieutenant, and William Ching another officer. But the center is Bogart's harsh, unrelenting character. His Dixon Steele must rank with his best characters. And we never get to know him, nor is there any apology for his toughness. He seems almost psychotic--very rare for the hero of the 1950s movie. This also rates as one of Grahame's best performances. A truly unique Hollywood movie all round. In a Lonely Place still rates as an undiscovered gem.
A scorching performance from Bogey makes this film a real classic, his Dixon Steele one of the great screen characters. In this more biting version of the plot of Hitchcock's suspense/comedy Suspicion, Bogart is a kind and loving screenwriter with a violent streak of temper waiting to break out and a taste for a drink or two, wooing Gloria Grahame's pretty young actress next door. The death of a young girlfriend of his hangs over him throughout the movie, as Graham at first believes him to be innocent, then later, having fallen for his charms, begins to suspect he may have had something to do with the girl's death after all, as his temper becomes more and more uncontrolled and frightening. The police circle around, making his nervous anger worse; the relationship begins to crumble into a mess of fear, lies and misunderstanding. Through all this Dixon Steele emerges as a great and brilliant creation, a highlight even in a career as illustrious as that of Bogart, a charming and witty man when happy, a black and vengeful man when roused to anger, a man of contradictions that only seems the more real, heroic, and ultimately tragic. Bogart's performance is brilliant, but the setting works well too, Grahame is great as the sassy girl he falls for, then frightens, the story chugs along at a fair lick, but allowing plenty of time for the many fun minor characters to develop well, and the script is a corker - wonderful stuff.
Bogart is at his uncompromisingly dark best as the Hollywood writer
whose temper leads to accusations of murder and conflicted
relationships. By turns charming, cold, romantic and remorseful, Dix
Steele is as unpredictable a character as Bogie has ever played.
He shows no emotion on learning that Mildred - the innocent he has just met - has been killed, and those who know him accept his violent nature as simply part of the Steele package. But thanks to the skill of Bogie and director Ray, the audience never entirely loses sympathy for him. The moments of tenderness he shows to his alibi-turned-lover Laurel (an ethereal Gloria Grahame; imagine Hope Davis glammed-up for the 50s) alternate with fits of anger to turn their relationship into that of a tragic poem.
In A Lonely Place is film noir that focuses on romance rather than crime. The reasons for Mildred's murder are never satisfactorily made clear, but it doesn't really matter. The movie asks whether love and trust are earned by what a person says or what they do. And in the end, actions speak louder than words.
There was a brave and smart twist to the 'man alone' theme in an
unusually literate thriller which isolated its ambivalent hero having
conflicting feelings inside his own negative personality... This man
was not physically isolated as Robert Ryan ('Inferno') had been: he was
an embittered Hollywood screenwriter who needed self-discipline and
The lonely place in which he was trapped was his own mind...
Perhaps some people thought Bogart over-acted, played the writer like a criminal aggressively apt to be easily offended... but he played his role well. No gangster this time, or cop, or private eye... He was a Hollywood screenwriterstrong, easily annoyed, depressed; his nerve-ends constantly steaming; living alone with his talent, his reputation and his typewriter; impulsive rather than strengthened by a diet of alcohol and nicotine His savage temper was uncontrollable: anything, it seemed, could explode it; and his violence was more than merely verbal
Bogart found himself capable of murder... He might have been anti-social... But the stress within him, reacting to the pressures without, built up so strongly that his rages, always near boiling point, became explosive... He hit people without good reason...
One watched the reactions of his dream girl, the beautiful blonde Gloria Grahame, and his two close friends... With them, one came to wonder if he was not really a murderer after all...
Very briefly, if you love 'film noir', excellent writing, brilliant direction, powerful B&W imagery and inspired casting, IN A LONELY PLACE is waiting for you. The storyline and the characterizations are city street-smart and flawless. One of Bogart's very best!
The story concerns a Hollywood screenwriter (Bogart) who is suspected of being a murderer. Grahame, a neighbor, steps in to defend him she saw the murdered woman leave his apartment alone. Afterwards, they begin a relationship. But Bogart's nature is a violent one, and that violence keeps pushing forward. It makes Grahame rethink her earlier testimony, as well as fear for her own safety. It's quite a unique film for the time, one that actually deals with the possibility of an abusive man. Everything is perfectly done, and the script is wonderful. The film's tagline was 'The Bogart suspense picture with a surprise ending!' What is surprising about the ending is just how much weight it carries. 9/10.
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