Archive for August 11th, 2009

In a Lonely Place (1950)


When I was about 16 or 17 I really got into Film Noir.  I watched all the films and read some of the pulp novels they were often based on.  I was a big an of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep so understandably looked out other Humphrey Bogart movies.  One that I was really disappointed with was Nicholas Rays In a Lonely Place.  It lacked the hard boiled detective story I was hoping for and centres on a relationship between screenwriter Dixon Steele (Bogart) and his neighbour Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame).  Then I saw an article and video essay by Kim Morgan, it made me go back and watch the film again. 

In a lonely place

Many years on from my first viewing I appreciated the film so much more. Dixon Steele is the prime suspect in the murder of a young girl who had visited his apartment shortly before being killed.  His only alibi comes from his neighbour, Laurel Gray who saw the girl leaving.  Bogart gives an amazing performance as the volatile but vulnerable writer.  Gloria Grahame is perfect playing opposite Bogart and the two have great onscreen chemistry resulting in a totally believable relationship.  The reason I loved the film so much is oddly the reason I was so disappointed the first time around it is the way Ray moves away from so many Noir conventions (and the plot of the book it is based on) to give us a film the rises so far above the “did he – didn’t he” plot that we have seen so many times. 

Rather than ramble on any further I will leave you read Kim’s blog and watch her video essay as she can explain it far better than I can!

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