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|Index||145 reviews in total|
Greetings again from the darkness. Just couldn't wait to see this one
on the big screen for the first time. It's a mystery why this film
doesn't get the same love and respect as some of the others from this
era. It is one of Humphrey Bogart's finest performances and one of
director Nicholas Ray's first films. It also has a terrific performance
by Gloria Grahame, who most will recognize as Violet from "It's a
Andrew Solt wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Dorothy B. Huges. With numerous changes to the source material, we get Bogie in quite a unique role. He plays Dixon Steele, an aging writer accused of murder. His alibi is his beautiful new neighbor (Grahame) who may or may not be telling the truth to the police. Of course, Steele himself may or may not be telling the truth. In fact, he has such a history of flashing a violent temper, that after he punches a director, his friends just laugh it off saying "oh, that's just Dix".
The scenes with Grahame and Bogart are tremendous and we certainly see that they both have secrets, as well as difficulty in accepting happiness. Support work is provided by Frank Lovejoy as Det Brub Nicolai. His wife Sylvia is played by Jeff Donnell, who went on to a long run on General Hospital. Martha Stewart (no not that one) plays Mildred, the perky murdered girl ... well, perky before the murder. Art Smith plays Steele's long suffering agent and only true friend.
The film skirts film noir traits, but is equal parts murder mystery and tragic love story. The ending is quite different than the first one Ray filmed, but it is one of the most powerful, emotional endings we have ever received from Hollywood. Some of the behind the scenes scoop make this one even more fascinating. Ray and Grahame were still married during filming, but they no longer lived together. Their marriage ended formally soon after when Ray caught her in bed with his son. Her stepson!
If you are a Bogart fan, you need to see this one for his performance. He goes much deeper than in his earlier roles, and watching him teeter between charmer and jerk is spellbinding. His demeanor leaves us doubting not whether he is capable of murder, but rather if he committed THIS one.
In a Lonely Place was a film I only saw recently, and I loved it. It is
a very dark and gripping film, and for me one of the better dramas I've
seen about the movie industry. It has a very clever and compelling plot
complete with a purposefully bleak ending, helped by brisk pacing,
superb direction and sophisticated dialogue and although the film is
quite short I felt wholly satisfied at the end.
The film also looks wonderful, the cinematography hasn't aged a jot and the scenery and costumes are top-notch as well. George Antheil's music is very atmospheric, and the acting is very good. Gloria Grahame is very well-cast despite the fact the part was specifically written for Lauren Bacall, but playing one of his most complex characters Humphrey Bogart holds the film together in a superb performance. One minute he is funny, somewhat ironic and sympathetic, the next minute especially in the second half he is powerful, dark and quite sinister, Bogart manages these traits wonderfully.
Overall, a very gripping film and helped especially by Bogart's fine performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
Great films for me are never just about the 'real' story with some
visual beauty, they're about all the puzzling things that bubble up
from the soul before the eyes as that story happens. This is one such
film, and if you want to know movies and why they work deep in our soul
you need to come to it at some point.
Okay the story at face value is that a hard-nosed screenwriter on the rebound is prime suspect for the murder of a young girl he took to his apartment to do some reading for him. The woman living in the opposite apartment clears him off the charges before striking a love affair with him, yet somewhere in the back of her head, she can't shake off the nagging suspicion that he might indeed be a dangerous killer.
Truth be told I never could quite warm up to the main portion of it. Each time I watch it I am nonplussed until late when it truly blooms. Is it Bogie's frameup, a 'wrong man' story? Is it her nightmare? We start with Bogie as our narrator and protagonist, then gradually move to her as the script he writes takes shape and changes into her hands. Is it about writing? Is it part send up part realistic love story?
Who knows. I guess the writers and Ray didn't quite know either. There are at least three films vying for space here, one is the noir about being seen to fit a role in a story, Bogie is repeatedly rumored and later seen to be violent. Layered satire about the story of tinkering with what they see. And third the film I think Ray really poured himself into: all about real urges through the blinds, the dark room of soul where lovers part and some abstract violence in the air.
You should know here that Ray was married to his leading lady in this, that during shooting the marriage was coming apart and he was living on the set, which he had built to mirror his own apartment complex. So he was essentially inhabiting a life he had lived, doing this film about love that grows distant with his own wifea strange, almost metaphysical thing, his own Lady from Shanghai.
The apartment complex is a marvelously cinematic space in the old LA style that I hear is now vanishing, with its pillared courtyard and staircases drowned by potted palms, where apartments pool their gaze to the same center. In the old days, they used to build these around Hollywood for studio staff to live and work nearby.
It is a film about writing and movies of course, about a violence that is concealed in the story but continuously encountered ahead each time, the writer's violence all through the film disguised as murder.
He a writer poring out the story of who he is, she a viewer willing to know.
The film is about all those things that momentarily flash in that space between the two lovers, the emotions that rise before the eyes. It isn't all there; you have to work at it like a love affair has gone bad and you're swimming through the bits trying to remember the moment it slipped, the moment always slipping in mind so you swim to it recalling more of the story.
I think it is this quality of something disguised and being slowly remembered that creeps into me every time I see this. It slowly builds like the Zen poem about walking to where the stream begins and there watching the clouds go by with an old man you met by chance.
It's all in the last scene I think.
The original ending was typical noir, lurid and clean like the book the film is based on. Ray felt it didn't work and at the last minute cleared the set and had Bogie and his wife improvise what we see. You need to watch it for just this. For me it is all a haze except this one bit, which anchors everything. Each time I watch it it takes my breath away.
Lovers part, knowing it couldn't work, fooling themselves that it might have if only a phone had rung a few hours earlier. We see here a narrator who has not just concealed the crime in the story we see, a story inspired by her. He has committed the crime of course, and changes it in the story only too late. It's that he himself cannot recall. The crime being that in order to tell the story he had to take time away from loving her, inserted early as murder of a beautiful girl. It's all a moment of love that he wraps into paper, whispering into it all the things he didn't say, changing it?
Words. There's just something about it, indefinable. I think what happens is that this one scene has a much more evocative air, pushing everything we have seen prior to a dreamlike distance. I think it worked this way by accident because Ray wanted this last goodbye in a film that was coming together quite differently. But it changed everything.
I can see why Lynch used the same apartment complex (or similar) in Mulholland, implicitly knowing that it is all narrated from this moment.
Noir Meter: 3/4
Truly one of the great noirs, "In a Lonely Place" was directed by
Nicholas Ray and stars Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy,
Jeff Donnell and Martha Stewart. Bogart plays Dix Steele, a well-known
Hollywood screenwriter who is very choosy about what he writes. He's
asked to adapt a book, and instead of reading it, he invites the
coat-check girl (Stewart) to tell him the story, as she's just finished
the book. She has a date; she cancels it for the opportunity. He takes
her to his place, where she acts the book out long enough for him to
decide it's a piece of junk. Exhausted, he gives her money for a cab
and sends her to the stand around the corner. Several hours later, an
old friend (Lovejoy) who is a police detective, appears at his door.
The girl has been found dead in the canyon. Dix, known for his violent
temper, becomes a suspect. A beautiful woman (Grahame) who lives across
the courtyard from him saw the girl leave and becomes his witness - and
his girlfriend. They're madly in love, but his sometimes dark moods,
his quick temper and his predilection for fistfights makes her wonder
if he isn't guilty of the murder after all.
This is a fantastic film with a wonderful, biting script, great direction and superb performances. More than a murder mystery, it's a psychological drama about two scarred people who come together somewhat late in the game - but is it too late? Bogart plays a basically good man who has some demons but in loneliness is willing to open himself up to love. He's such a complete character - vulnerable, passionate, angry, generous - full of contradictions - this is one of Bogart's best roles, if not the best. The look on his face when he tells Laurel that he's been without someone for so long - incredible. Grahame's Laurel is sexy, mysterious, flirtatious and cautious - yet she finds herself totally engulfed in her love affair with Dix, though she fears he isn't quite right. "Why couldn't he be normal?" she asks, as if she would have been attracted to him if he had been. Dix's edginess comes with a price - the question is whether she's willing to pay it.
The rest of the cast is excellent: Art Smith as Dix's long-suffering agent who loves the guy in spite of everything: Frank Lovejoy as his detective friend, who can't help liking him even if he is a suspect for murder: and Jeff Donnell, who plays Lovejoy's wife, a woman who knows real love when she sees it.
What a movie - you really can't ask for more. "I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me." When was the last time you heard a line like that?
In 1950, Billy Wilder released his latest masterpiece, 'Sunset Blvd.,'
a scathing satire on the pitfalls of Hollywood celebrity, delicately
drawing a contrast between the deluded and volatile has-been Norma
Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and the scheming wanna-be screenwriter Joe
Gillis (William Holden). While Wilder's film deservedly received an
overwhelming critical response, and its share of controversy, another
impressive, similarly-themed film slipped beneath the radar that same
year. For decades, director Nicholas Ray was overlooked and neglected
by most film critics, before developing something of a cult following
in the 1970s, and films such as 'Rebel Without a Cause (1955)' which
I first watched just a week ago are now recognised as masterpieces.
'In a Lonely Place (1950)' has only now been lauded as one of the
finest entries into the film-noir movement, and Humphrey Bogart's
performance has emerged as among the most intense and profound in his
distinguished repertoire. A brooding study of aggression, trust and
success, Ray's film meticulously deconstructs the Hollywood myth,
revealing a frightening world where the man you love could very well be
Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, an unsuccessful artist who resents being pressured into writing hackneyed, unoriginal scripts, which are guaranteed money-makers for the studios but possess zero artistic integrity. The morning after he brings home a bar hat-check girl (Martha Stewart) to recite the plot of the novel he is to adapt, Steele is hauled into the police department to explain why the girl was found murdered, her strangled body dumped from a moving vehicle. Appearing almost indifferent to the crime, Steele declines all knowledge of the homicide, and his story is shakily corroborated by a neighbour, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), with whom he forms an intimate relationship. As Steele begins to pen his latest screenplay, he uncovers an outlet for his pent-up aggression, however, when Laurel betrays a lingering suspicion that her love might possibly have perpetrated the horrific murder, he threatens to lash out in a fit of violence, only further cementing her misgivings. By the film's end, the tragedy of the couple's relationship is revealed: whether or not Steele actually did commit the murder is almost irrelevant; what ultimately dooms their romance is that he conceivably could have.
In an obvious critique of the Hollywood studio system, Steele bitterly condemns the career of a successful producer, accusing him of remaking the same movie twenty times and of being a "popcorn salesman." The producer, apparently comfortable with his prosperous but creatively-deficient profession, snidely reminds Steele that everyone in Hollywood is inherently a "popcorn salesman," so why fight it? It's this notion of creativity or, rather, the lack of creativity in film-making that forms the heart of 'In a Lonely Place.' There's no doubt that Dixon Steele is a talented screenwriter, but his reluctance to allow his work to be influenced by popular opinion makes him feel trapped and alone, as though Hollywood is attempting to stamp out his genius. His frustration with the film-making business is allowed to accumulate steadily within, before being unleashed in adrenaline-charged explosions of aggression and violence. From here is born the dilemma of Laurel's relationship with him: it is Steele's creativity with which she most assuredly fell in love, but this gift is intrinsically linked with the hostility of which she is so frightened.
I can't resist a good Boogie film and this is a good one. There's real
menace here, and it's both surprising and watchable to see the film
darken. You want to cheer for the star and the tremendous script gives
you lots of reasons to, but there is a feeling that Boogie is a train
without brakes and, however thrilling the ride, the journey will end
with him going off the rails.
Gloria Grahame is wonderful as the love interest, especially early on when she is trying to 'out-cool' the man himself. There is interest and intrigue all the way though as the masterful script somehow keeps things light as moods darken. Not a moment of the film escapes the brooding, fascinating presence of Boogie and I can't think of any other actor who could have carried off such a mesmeric performance....another feather fluttering off the cap of the Oscar folk for not rewarding such a performance.
Bottom line....a gripping film, more watchable as the sky darkens.
This wonderful 1950 drama boasts an impressive Bogart, as well as an
alluring Gloria Grahame. The script is wonderful, and the sets are a
perfectly integrated part of the story. Supporting performances are
cast quite effectively, especially Art Smith and Martha Stewart (no,
not THAT one).
Ray's direction, particularly scenes involving his soon-to-be-ex-in-real-life Grahame, is superb. The on-screen chemistry between the two leads provides the "bump" that makes this an excellent film, rather than simply ordinary.
A must-see for noir fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
BEWARE SPOILERS !! in the DVD extras, the documentary says that the original ending was that Dix murdered laurel and that the ending was changed on the spot to the one that we are familiar with. A brilliant decision to resist the temptation of a 'twist' ending. But was it a spontaneous decision to chnage the ending If you look at the trailer on the DVD extras, there appears to be another ending with laurel getting the phone call and running to Dix and embracing him - does anyone know if this was a serious ending or was it just shot for the trailer to give the appearance of a more conventional romance ? I think this is bogart's most complex performance - it actually makes one feel sympathetic to his inability to control himself. if they remade it now it would end with him going to counselling.
This is one of my favorite Bogart films. If you are a Bogey fan then you must add this to your collection. The story line is above average. All of the actors do justice to their roles. Take the time to watch this film it is worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality." Dixon
Nicholas Ray's "In A Lonely Place" stars Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who becomes the chief suspect in an ongoing murder investigation. As the police look into him further, Steele falls in love with his neighbour, a young actress called Laurel Gray. Gradually the strain of the murder investigation brings out Steele's more violent tendencies. He gets into fights with various characters, acts increasingly paranoid and begins to resent being a suspect. Unable to live with such a volatile man, the film ends with Laurel terminating her relationship with Steele on the very day the police prove him innocent.
One of Ray's finest films, "In A Lonely Place" does well to undercut Humphrey Bogart's typical screen idol persona. Bogart's as sexy, cynical, world-weary, noble, witty and smart as he's always been, but Ray also wants us to focus on the bags under his eyes, his fragility and the tremendous, almost existential pain Steele seems to exude.
The film's first hour moves like magic. Steele's constantly spewing caustic sound bites, the character preoccupied with asserting his own superiority over those around him. He has no tolerance for the dim, the deluded or the superficial, choosing instead to mingle with an "authentic" band of drunks and other humble characters. Afterall, he's an artist, dammit! He ain't human like "normal" folk! But as the film progresses, it gradually becomes a dissection of doomed romanticism, the suave tough guy peeled away to reveal something bitter and sometimes pathetic.
Dixon Steele, in short, is a classic depressive. He's also dangerously amoral, insisting that a girl find her own cab, refusing to show empathy for a murdered woman, remorseless when shown graphic photos of a crime scene and strangely aroused when given the chance to re-enact a violent murder. His insensitivity's a shell, though, designed to protect what is really a sensitive soul. He feels, senses and cares more than those he deems oblivious, but must become cold to stave off his own suffering.
Indeed, Dixon is remarkably similar to Jim Wilson in Nicholas Ray's own "On Dangerous Ground". Both characters seem to suffer from what Sartre called "existential nausea", or what modern psychologists are beginning to term "depressive realism"; the belief that certain overly sensitive people - often with self-destructive personalities - have a more accurate view of reality, a more realistic perception of their importance, abilities and context. Such people typically exercise excessive rational control in all situations, no matter how petty or insignificant these situations may seem. They possess a sort of super rationality, their lack of illusions generally associated with a personality oriented towards growth and learning. This is in contrast to "healthy human beings", who are more likely to erect various mental blocks, self-imposed delusions essentially keeping them anchored and "sane" (whereby sanity is really a form of mass, shared psychosis).
It may be silly to psycho-analyse a film character to such an extent, but Ray, a bisexual, drug user and alcoholic who constantly battled depression, frequently populates his films with such characters. These are not only outsiders, they are aloof outsiders who resent themselves as much as they deem those around them abhorrent. These feelings tend to give rise to a toxic blend of self-destructiveness and self-obsession, the ego inflating only because the organism knows just how worthless it really is (see Ray's "Bigger Than Life", "Rebel Without a Cause").
Visually, "In A Lonely Place" is remarkable. Ray literalizes Dixon's alienation by placing his apartment below his lover's (as though he's not worthy of her), and has his apartment morph into a mass of prison bars, columned curtains and closed Venetian blinds. Elsewhere the film is awash with noirish, inky blacks, an aesthetic which suits Bogart perfectly.
Incidentally, the film seems to reflect a certain fear that was prominent in Hollywood at the time. This was a period when Hollywood became the focus of the House Un-American Activities Committee, an investigative committee that tracked down "communists" and those affiliated with left-wing groups. During this time many careers were destroyed or threatened and numerous people within the film industry were blacklisted (Ray was himself a member of a left-wing, political theatre group). "In A Lonely Place" captures the paranoia of this era, perhaps unintentionally.
Elsewhere the film makes several cynical jabs at the film-industry. This is not a satire, of course, but Ray is nevertheless constantly poking fun at what he deems a vacuous Hollywood. Despite this, Ray also manages to capture the romance of the movie industry. The aptly named "In A Lonely Place" exudes a sense of community, shared love and camaraderie, and offers a fine depiction of life on the fringes of Hollywood.
10/10 Following a DVD release in 2003, "Place" has steadily grown in appreciation. It is now frequently ranked as one of the best noirs, is often cited as containing Humphrey Bogart's greatest performance and is touted by many as being Nicholas Ray's finest picture. Worth multiple viewings.
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