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...
He seems to be more himself in this movie, than in any other role he played before or since. Dixon Steele is a famous Hollywood writer going through a low patch for a few years now. He is also a very violent man with a short fuse. He is suspected of the murder of a hat check girl early on in the movie but is provided an alibi by neighbour Gloria Grahame. They both fall in love and Steele actually seems to be cured and starts writing again. But....
I won't delve further into the plot, but this is Bogie's most personal performance and worth a detailed viewing. You'll begin to understand the talents of this actor much more by watching this film. There are several memorable scenes and some great dialogue but this film is more realistic and less stylish than classic noir's like Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Maltese Falcon or Out of the Past.
The end is great....a true noir ending.
The very first thing you hear in this film is a passing character calling out to Bogart – "Dix Steele!". Right way I find this amusing because of the connotations of his name and the fact that it's such a perfect "Hollywood" name from the period. Dix is a guy who takes a hat check girl home so that she can tell him the story of a book he's supposed to adapt and ends up the prime suspect for her murder. His alibi is provided by a lovely new neighbor, Laurel Gray (Grahame, director Ray's wife at the time). The scene where they flirt with each other in the midst of police interrogation is sexy, intelligent, and surprising. It also engages some of the major themes in the film – early on in the scene Bogart wonders aloud whether the investigation is supposed to determine if he's guilty of murder or of being insensitive. "I didn't say I was a gentleman, I said I was tired". Steele's attitude here is basically his classic screen persona – tough, cynical, and defiant of authority. One of the cops, Brub (Frank Lovejoy) is Steele's old war buddy and one of the film's strongest scenes is the one where Steele encourages Brub and his wife Sylvia to act out the murder scenario. Jeff says "he's a sick man" but Brub demurs, basically describing the Bogart persona's appeal – "he's just exciting, that's all! He's different from other men." The really impressive thing that the film does is that it actually brings us at least closer to Sylvia's perspective by the end, deconstructing the appeal of Bogart's macho noir persona while at the same time maintaining his humanity to the extent that we really feel awful for him because we know this is his last chance in life and that every twist of the story is pushing him that much closer to the bitter loneliness that will occupy the remainder of his life (in this respect it differs greatly from films like "Kiss Me Deadly" which merely satirize the macho persona without humanizing it). And there's no melodramatic outside cause for the tragedy; it's all internal to Dixon Steele's character – his inability to internalize stress and his tendency to act out with violence against anyone who happens to be in his way when he gets angry.
The love story between Grahame and Bogart's characters is extremely convincing. I like how after Laurel "confesses" to finding Bogart's face "interesting" in the interrogation scene, he invites her to come see him and initially thinks she might accompany him on his date with his cop friend's family. It's the first sign of the character's vulnerability, and for the remainder of the film Ray brilliantly uses Grahame's female prerogative to undermine Bogart's arrogant style. Even the scenes that could become maudlin are handled in a convincing way. When Dixon's agent Mel Lippman (Art Smith) comes by and is amazed to see Dixon working on a script feverishly, Grahame's performance carries the necessary feminine affection to make us believe in their brief idyll. Grahame is the whole package, and it's remarkable how she comes off the screen as a flesh and blood woman instead of the kind of "dolls" and "molls" that usually inhabit suspense films from the period. And likewise Bogart's character feels truly real to me in a way that none of his other characters do. I'm not talking about the style of acting, it's really in the writing and the fact that Bogart is able to take advantage of the writing by fully inhabiting this character (which some say was the closest to his own personality he ever played). It's not one of those films where you're supposed to guess whether he's really "good" or "bad", even though superficially that seems the case; I think this story is too sad and the character too pathetic to deserve either epithet. And ultimately even the question of "did he, or didn't he, murder her?" becomes irrelevant because Laurel and the audience become convinced that he COULD have killed her, and this destroys the possibility of trust in their relationship.
Nick Ray made at least two other timeless masterpieces, "Johnny Guitar" and "Rebel Without a Cause". All 3 deal with loneliness and the stress placed on relationships by the conflict between traditional concepts of "manliness" and personal concepts of love and belonging. And all 3 show Ray's ability to work with a small ensemble of actors and approach potentially conventional dramatic situations in ways that are not only new but also startlingly intimate and personal. I don't usually issue recommendations, but anyone who hasn't seen all 3 owes it to themselves to seek them out, because speaking from my own heart these are movies that have the potential to enrich our own lives – without moralizing, Ray has created at least through a handful of personal films a body of work that affirms life in all its beautiful weirdness. Only he could have created a film like "In a Lonely Place" that brings out so many emotions without being manipulative. He knows how to let us come to the characters instead of forcing the characters on us, and he does not allow even one scene to be a "throw-away" – absolutely every scene in this movie enhances the quality of the film and the experience of watching it is enhanced with each repeat viewing.
The only thing missing was a motivation/explanation for Dix's short fuse, but juxtaposition of Bogart's fury and Gloria Grahame's gentle, faithful love is spell binding. Gloria Grahame is a perfect leading lady for Bogart. It's a pity this combination wasn't repeated, because their chemistry rivals Bogart/Bacall, and Bogart/Hepburn for sure.
IN A LONELY PLACE gives him a role that is almost as dark as Dobbsie was. Dix is one of two men who have been suspected of a brutal murder of a woman whom Dix dated. At the start of the film we are made aware that Dix is really bad tempered - he gets into a mild fender bender and almost ends up beating up the other driver. Throughout the film, the screen writer and Nicholas Ray remind us of Dix's temper - it flares up repeatedly. It even turns on his friends - Mel Lippman (his agent and friend - Art Smith) says the wrong thing, and almost gets throttled. This makes us aware of Dix possibly being the killer of the woman.
Dix meets Laurel Gray (Gloria Graham), and a hot romance develops. And we watch the film show the slow growth of fears and suspicions in Laurel regarding Dix's temper and his actual innocence, and Dix's realization that Laurel trusts him less and less. The film spirals to their final painful confrontation - and it's ironic conclusions of shattered hopes. Fred C. Dobbs may have ended up dead, but only in IN A LONELY PLACE did a Bogie character end up shattered.
Bogart's performance is mesmerizing; there is very little trace of acting here, it is real and he seems to drawing from demons within. It's not 'The Method', it's just sheer brilliance by an amazing film actor. Steele appears to be always on the brink, ready to boil over. Bogart conveys this expertly with his actions and mannerisms. Gloria Grahame, a truly underrated actress, is also wonderful as Laurel Gray, the woman who falls in love with Steele, but finds she can no longer trust in the course of the film's events. I will make the perhaps startling suggestion that Bogart and Grahame actually share better on-screen chemistry than Bogart and Bacall. There, I said it. It's true. It's a simmering, tender yet dangerous romance that Steele and Gray (note the surnames- an interesting likeness) experience, and Bogart and Grahame are absolutely believable in their roles.
This film is about trust, and what happens when trust is lost in a relationship. It's also about the loneliness that everyone inevitably experiences; particularly the artist, the writer, that Bogart's character is. It's about Steele's loneliness before Laurel came into his life, and how his situation will be hopeless if she leaves him or doubts him ever. Very powerful noir.
It is one of the best noirs I have ever seen, and very underrated. I notice that the TIME Magazine has included it on it's list of 100 greatest films of all time. Finally, some recognition! Ray's direction is amazing, the atmosphere is brilliantly maintained and the performances are perfect, so it puzzles me why this film is not better known (especially with Bogart's name and all). It's considered by many a Bogart fan to be the film in which he gives his best performance, so it's a must-see for all film goers. A frightening noir because of it's emphasis on human drama, 'In a Lonely Place' is right up there with 'Out Of The Past' and 'Double Indemnity'.
It's also a powerful satire and critique of show business and it's false values. Steele, the screenwriter, is the bitter outsider to the game, caustically observing the trappings of his position. One feels Bogart is drawing upon his own early struggling experiences in Hollywood when capturing the essence of Steele. Dix's dry comments to hat-check girl Mildred and his amazing bitterly earnest replies to critical film producers speak of a noir with a higher purpose than just the usual murder plot with style. This is a noir with wit, and outlook.
See It! 10/10.
The story of In a Lonely Place really picks up when Bogart comes into contact with his neighbour, a mysterious young woman whom he promptly falls in love with. This romance forms the backbone of this dark movie, but even though the romance is usually a positive thing; director Nicholas Ray even manages to keep this aspect of the story firmly in the shadows. The film is a great example of professionalism throughout, with the direction, screenplay and acting all being flawless. It's nice to see an actor of Bogart's immense talent in this sort of role, as it really allows him to put his back into it and the result is a fine performance from one of the greatest actor's of all time, which is a treat to watch. The plot is full of criticisms of Hollywood in the 50's, and this will be of interest to film fans as this was an important period of time for movies. On the whole, this movie is a fascinating piece of cinema. It is captivating from the moment it starts and you will be drawn to it all the way though. My only slight criticism is that it could have spent a little more time on the mystery side of it's plot, and a little less on the romance; but that's a small criticism. Otherwise, this is an excellent piece of cinema.
But then suddenly, the perspective changes really from Bogart's character to Grahame's. Suddenly, as her character types up his new, 'inspired' script in a matter or weeks, the relationship for her- at first with a firm tongue-in-cheek and kind adoration in part to the writing- starts to take a turn. Here's where the character of Bogart's starts to get interesting, as the past record of violent outbursts starts to add doubt not just for his girl, but for the audience as well. As he was much as at home playing tense, on-edge gangsters and the like in the 30's as he was in star turns in the 40s, here's a role where he gets to both, but in line with the director's dramatic requirements. Here he creates this film just on structure with a keen apt for the suspense of it all. It isn't even a 'whodunit' as much as it is a look at the environment of how 'loneliness' is often most crushing when it incurs loss and pushing others away. And the climax that is reached is meant as an emotional one, as the real peak is revealed. In a Lonely Place is great for what it gives its actor(s) to do with the material, and along with an accompanying, varying style, it's exemplary of subverting expectations. You may get the rough side of Bogie as well as the side that's near charming. But this time the implications of connecting and feeling for one another are just as strong, if not stronger, than the mystery portion that pushes further on them.
Saying all this, of course, doesn't mean that the film isn't quite the entertainer, too; moments of humor are pecked in with a side character and with some of the (typical for a Bogart star role) finely tuned bits of dialog. It's a film that tells a love story and has the mix of very touching moments with the uglier ones, has some grit on the edges that adds to the subversion of the material, and puts conflicts where elsewhere would be shuffled around by others. In short, it's a highlight in both of the careers of the director and star.
Bogart plays a strange and complex character--a man who writes screenplays. At times, he's affable and decent, and at other times he's violent and cruel--getting into fights at the drop of a hat. But regardless, he was always cynical and spouted great dialog in whichever mood struck him.
Towards the beginning of the film a young lady is murdered and the evidence points mainly to Bogart. Now the writers and director COULD have chosen to make it very clear to the audience what actually occurred, but there is definitely plenty of reason for the audience to suspect Bogart DID kill her and it isn't spelled out for you. Oddly, through much of the film it seemed like Bogart's character was doing everything he could to prove he might have done it! The only witness who could throw doubt on Bogart's guilt is a neighbor played wonderfully by Gloria Graham. Interestingly enough, Ms. Graham often played "trashy dames" in films but this time, she sported a more conservative style of hair and makeup. She was still a bit of a Noir "dame", but definitely smart and with a lot of class.
After providing Bogart with an alibi, the two oddly fall in love. She is firmly convinced of his innocence, though it is STILL possible that Bogart did kill the girl. And, as the film unfolds and Bogey shows an amazingly volatile temper, Graham becomes afraid of him--setting up a wonderful conclusion to the film.
The best aspects of the film were the great dialog (it just sounded so gritty and cool--like a Noir flick), interesting and unique script as well as the building tension--almost like a Hitchcock film. I also liked that, for once, the film kept me guessing!
In A Lonely Place is a fabulous picture, not nominated for any academy awards (incredible in light of Bogart's stunning portrayal as Steele), and tagged on its release as being too bleak to be a winner, it's now rightly considered one of the best films of its type and contains some of the best work from those involved. What always amazes me with the film is how its two halves are so very riveting for different reasons, the first half we are trying to understand Steele's conflict with himself (a wonderfully complex character), he is our sole focus of attention. Then the second half as Laurel and Dixon enter into a full blown relationship, we find ourselves in Laurel's place, as Dixon grows ever more erratic, we join Laurel in her unease, it feels like a coiled spring waiting to unleash itself. It's quite an achievement that director Nicholas Ray molds the pictures halves together and dabs them with darkly affecting visuals, whilst all the time taking us up and down as to how we feel about Dixon Steele and the girl he has clearly fallen in love with.
This is not just about the actors (Gloria Grahame as Laurel is also as fabulous as Bogart is) and its director tho, a tip of the hat has to go to the source material by Dorothy Hughes and Edmund H North and the adaptation by Andrew Holt, the ending here is different to the one in the book, but personally I think this one works better because it has a quandary cloud hanging over it, not in a short changed way, but in a deeply unnerving way, the kind that sets you pondering over a cold glass of beer. Terrific stuff here for those willing to invest undivided time with it, a film that is now rightly revered as a classic, so just as Dixon Steele is up on that old knife edge, the makers are asking you to hop up on that edge alongside him, do it and you wont be disappointed. 9.5/10
You walk away from this one rather unsettled. But, one thing is for sure: You KNOW that you have just seen a GREAT and beautifully crafted film!
Bogart plays Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele, who is in somewhat of a writing rut. He also has a quick temper and a paranoia complex. He picks fights with people over the most routine matters and these fights commonly come to blows. He is indeed "in a lonely place" of his own making. Steele has a chance to write a screenplay based on a book, but the author wants him to read the book and give him his opinion in just a matter of a few days. At the restaurant where Steele has talked with the author, the hat check girl says she has just read the book and loves it. Steele invites her to come over to his apartment and tell him about the book to save him the trouble of reading it. This is all very innocent in what Steele intends and in what actually happens. In fact, Steele's reaction, unseen and unheard by the hat check girl, to her semi-literate oral book report is wickedly funny. This shows us Steele's charming and funny side. After the girl tells her story, she leaves. Neighbor Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame) sees her leave. However, the next day, the girl's strangled body is found next to a road. The police quickly find their way back to Steele's place where, due to his violent past and nonchalant reaction to the murder, he is under immediate suspicion. He finds an alibi in his neighbor Laurel, and this is how they formally meet.
Almost immediately the two begin a relationship that gets serious fast. Laurel finds Steele attentive and interesting. Thus at first Laurel thinks Steele is innocent of the murder, but one by one her doubts grow. Steele explodes over little things, even eventually punching out his own agent over nothing. In fact, Steele's agent is his only real friend and actually is a bit of an enabler for his bad behavior. You always see Steele show his idea of remorse for his actions, even anonymously sending money to a guy he has beaten up over a traffic accident. However, the question that is left to be answered is - exactly what is going on with this guy? Could he have stalked and killed the girl over his anger at something else or someone else entirely? And if he didn't kill the hat check girl, will he eventually kill someone else? Laurel is asking these same questions as she begins to wonder - is it more dangerous to try and run away from Steele, or is it more dangerous to stay? One should never consider saying "yes" to a marriage proposal if it comes down to what is less dangerous.
Laurel is not exactly a finished book herself. Apparently she had a serious relationship with a well-off man just prior to this, and ended it for really no tangible reason. Then there is a kind of gay subtext going on between herself and her masseuse, Martha. They only have one scene together but it certainly throws out more questions than answers, just like the rest of this film.
If you like noir, if you like Bogart, if you like being challenged, watch this film.
"In a Lonely Place" is a magnificent movie, and Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame have outstanding performances. The story is tense, with a mature love story entwined with fear and mystery, and the direction and cast are magnificent. The restored black and white cinematography is overwhelming. The conclusion is fantastic. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): 'No Silêncio da Noite' ('In the Silence of the Night')
Note: On 18 September 2016, I saw this film again.
Dix (Bogart) gets accused of murdering a young woman he'd been seen leaving a club with. He is a primary suspect for pretty much the entire movie. I (personally) never believed he killed her. I think the audience is "clued in" early on that he did not. So, there's no suspense there. It may have been a better film if the audience wasn't informed of this and we were all wondering, "Did he do it?"
An attractive woman who lives in the same building complex eyes him and lets him know that she "Likes what she sees". So, pretty soon they are a "couple." But, as much as she likes/loves this guy, she also realizes he is not quite "normal". At one point she sees him lose control and almost beat a guy to death with his fists (and about to bash his head in with a rock) over a traffic incident!
I did enjoy the locale, sets, and some of the scenery. The acting is pretty good. But I'm not sure anyone under 60 would enjoy this B&W film, which is quite dated compared to the tastes and standards of 2015.
The movie is mostly much ado about nothing. What is the point? The point is (I hope), if you EVER encounter a guy like Bogie, RUN (don't walk) the other way!
There IS "something wrong with him" lady. You are right! This movie came out in 1950 and I hope that Bogie wasn't any kind of 'role model' for anyone with *this* film. He is the kind of guy that gives "guys" (in general) a bad name.
Everything in the movie is natural. That's its irresistible charm. It lets everything happen the way it truly would. Bogart and Grahame give performances that feel so contemporary, because they transcend the classical stagelike bombast of old film acting. They look, talk and walk like real people, and they are perhaps some of the greatest work by any actors in the 1940s and '50s.
The script comes straight from the heart and draws characters that many, including myself, can relate to, perhaps shamefully, perhaps encouragingly. It's one of the most affecting love stories I've ever seen, and one that's not afraid to take the tough way out of anything.
The film keeps one guessing as to Steele's guilt or innocence, but his re-creation of the murder for a detective friend and his wife only adds to the intrigue. Not to mention feigning guilt every time his agent Lippman (Art Smith) comes around. It's the bantering between the pair that keeps the film off balance in the early going and lightens the story with an air of dark comedy.
It was hard for me to warm up to the Laurel Gray character. There was always a veneer of caution and distrust about her, made more ominous by the revelation that she was on the run from a former boyfriend. In turn, her own internal warning system slipped into high gear as the film progressed, becoming increasingly wary of Steele's hot temper and growing intrusion into her life.
I'm always intrigued by the slightest of film nuances and this one offers a couple. For one, when the character of detective Brub Nicolai (Frank Lovejoy) is introduced for the first time to Laurel Gray at the police station, his boss calls him 'Nicholson'. And were you quick enough to catch Myron Healey as the uncredited postal clerk in the latter part of the movie?
Humphrey Bogart was equally at home portraying both heroes and villains, but it seems that bad guys brought out more intensity in the actor. Though not nearly as strong or well known as Bogey's A-list of films, and we all know which ones they are, "In A Lonely Place" is a strong contender to head up his second tier along with "Conflict", "The Enforcer" and "Knock On Any Door". The latter film, as this one was directed by Nicholas Ray, who achieved his seminal career work in "Rebel Without a Cause".