A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Screenwriter Dixon Steele, faced with the odious task of scripting a trashy bestseller, has hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson tell him the story in her own words. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect; his record of belligerence when angry and his macabre sense of humor tell against him. Fortunately, lovely neighbor Laurel Gray gives him an alibi. Laurel proves to be just what Steele needed, and their friendship ripens into love. Will suspicion, doubt, and Steele's inner demons come between them?Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
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 Wonderful Life".
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.
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