Sunday, 9 August 2015

I've Just Seen: In a Lonely Place (1950)

In a Lonely Place (1950)
Director: Nicholas Ray

I love a Bogie film: he is ridiculously watchable. His face is complemented by the black-and-white cinematography of Hollywood's Golden Age, and his voice is wonderfully distinctive. In this film he is at his best, a coiled spring of anger and menace. The tension that was reportedly between Bogart and Gloria Grahame on-set seems to have informed their performances for the better; the discomfort adds to the problems in their relationship.

The story is self-reflexive, as Bogart's Dix Steele is a screenwriter who hangs around with actors and directors. One of my favourite scenes was Steele listening to a young woman telling him the plot of a trashy novel; he bristles as she recounts the story, and makes comments dripping with sarcasm that go over her head. The script for the film is fantastic, with witty lines about the film industry. Here's one gem: 'What does it matter what I think? I'm the guy who tried to talk Selznick out of doing "Gone with the Wind"'

The camera shots add a layer of intimacy and danger in several scenes: one scene at a club has Grahame and Bogart sitting close. They both look over Bogart's shoulder, then Bogart turns back, and we can't see his face; only Grahame talking to him. She then nuzzles his neck as well. It is sexy and ominous, made more so because of its public setting.

This is a fantastic noir film with two career-best performances, from a director who did interesting things with his framing and shot construction. The script is also one of the best of the 50s. In short, there is no reason not to watch this. 


  1. Nope, no reason at all. This is a must-see for any Bogie fan. I am not entirely settled on which of his performances is the better one between In a Lonely Place or The Tresure of the Sierra Madre.

    1. Bogie is the gift that keeps on giving; he is pretty good in whatever he is in. Many roles were variations on the same theme: the tough-guy, but no one plays it better. And he could be very funny and surprisingly sexy.