In a Lonely Place (1950)
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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.
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.
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.
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...