130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Important Film
For all the praise film-noir is lavished with (quite a lot of it valid), the majority of it relies on convention as much as the standard white-picket-fence, happy-ending 'family' film does: just invert the cliches and bathe them in deep-focus shadows. While this movie, on its surface, resembles the classic-style film noir of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, beneath the surface it's a...
Published on August 25, 2001 by El Kabong
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars LONELY PLACE FOR CLASSICS AT COLUMBIA-TRISTAR
Nicholas Ray's "In A Lonely Place" is one of those eternally compelling film noirs that haunts you once you've seen it. Bogart is screenwriter, Dixon Steele. He's got a terrible temper that doesn't make him popular either amongst the studio big shots or his nightclubbing buddies. But has that uncontrollable rage led him to kill? Det. Sgt. Brub Nicholai (Frank Lovejoy) and...
Published on March 27, 2003 by Nix Pix
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130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Important Film,
For all the praise film-noir is lavished with (quite a lot of it valid), the majority of it relies on convention as much as the standard white-picket-fence, happy-ending 'family' film does: just invert the cliches and bathe them in deep-focus shadows. While this movie, on its surface, resembles the classic-style film noir of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, beneath the surface 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. To his credit, Ray never takes the easy way out of having Bogart turn monster on her. You care inordinately about the characters, hoping hard (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 rarity. The shadows suffusing this excellent film come not from UFA-influenced lighting but from the Black Dahlia murder, the HUAC hearings, the death throes of old Hollywood & the moral and spiritual detachment of postwar American life. But most of all, they're projected from within the characters themselves. Grahame and Ray's own real-life deteriorating relationship formed the template for the doomed lovers, and for them, this film is an act of great courage. For his part, Bogart (the star and executive producer) takes elements of all his previous romantic loners and blends them with the harsh, sour pigments of Fred C Dobbs, running the risk of audience rejection. His performance is unflinchingly honest, among his best work ever. See this movie.
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DEEPLY MOVING FILM!,
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Filmed in 1950, this film is brilliantly directed by Nicholas Ray. Its production company, Santana Productions, was Bogart's own (Santana was the name of his yawl), which he started in 1948 and sold to Columbia Pictures in 1954, the problem being that his company simply couldn't outbid the large studios for properties he wanted, i.e., Dead End and The Detective Story (some of Santana's films included Knock on Any Door, Tokyo Joe and Sirocco, which Bogart himself called "a stinker").
Eric Lax, the definitive biographer of Humphrey Bogart, believes that he was drawn to this role because he could so closely identify with the character's inner turmoil, problems with women, and a rocky relationship with the ups and downs of the film industry itself. The character he plays is also a heavy drinker. Perhaps because of the similarities, and because Bogart was so greatly talented, his performance in this film leaves one in awe. It is wide and deep, cruel and unbelievably tender, and very, very moving. Gloria Grahame gives unquestionably the best performance of her career. The role was to go to Lauren Bacall, but Warner Brothers refused to lend her to Santana Productions for the film. Though I admire Bacall's early work, I am glad we got Grahame with her flower-like fragility.
It is a murder mystery, but more it is an in-depth character study and even a life study. Dix (Bogart's character) is full of rage which he has for years refused to confront. Laurel (Grahame's character) is lost. Both her film career and her search for a meaningful love are illusive at best. They genuinely fall deeply in love. Was she not strong enough? Was he not brave enough? We see what could have been, and are left with what will never be.
My great compliments to Art Smith, whom I consider to be the greatest character actor of his time (he played the psychiatrist in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, one of William Powell's later films). The scene in which he is violated is a great moment in film.
Hats off to a deeply moving film, brutally honest and perfectly executed, each performance being a gem of its own.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Bogart, Ray, Grahame,Solt,Lovejoy, etc,
One test for me is re-viewing and I've seen this film around ten times. The tenth time I found the initial scene between Ms Grahame and her lesbian masseur both witty and gripping as the almost sadistic masseur twisted, leant, squeezed with each vicious word her distaste for Ms Grahame's man, and I guess, for all men. But this is a film rich in such moments - including the apparently obligatory night club singing scene which was a cliche of the forties films - with the excellent singing performance interrupted by the enraged Dixon Steele (Bogart) as he physically attacks HIS BESPECTACLED BEST FRIEND AND AGENT at his table. Personally I find this film superior to REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. It is especially well written by Andrew Solt and Mr Ray gets fabulous performances out of all concerned. It is at the one time a film self deprecating about its own medium as an art - much irony within the film about the cliches of film - as well as a searing comment on post traumatic stress as the character played by Mr Bogart is clearly a victim of war. Indeed, I count the film amongst the best of its time which seems to get better with age. Brilliant in black and white.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DARK, BROODING HUMAN EMOTIONS....,
Excellent psychological noir drama about a cynical Hollywood screenwriter (Humphrey Bogart) with a disturbing violent streak who becomes a suspect in the brutal murder of a hat check girl from the club he frequents. His only alibi is Gloria Grahame, a starlet who's his neighbor in their apartment complex. She covers for him to the police even admitting that she likes his face. They begin a relationship and Grahame discovers his frightening violent tendencies. Now even she begins to doubt his innocence as well as fear for her own safety. Film crackles with cynicism and tension throughout and offers one of Bogart's best performances as the troubled writer struggling with his inner demons. Grahame is excellent in one of her first big roles before becoming the 50's film noir femme fatale she later did. Ironically, the film was directed by the great Nicholas Ray whose marriage to Grahame was falling apart at the time. This could explain why it has a bleak, gloomy feel to it and the two leads are such tormented characters who are powerless over their destinies. A must see, a must on DVD and a must have for those who know what Bogart could do in a role like this, for fans of Grahame and especially for those who are familiar with Nicholas Ray. A potent, adult film that's an underrated and overlooked classic.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unpredictable Pseudo-Noir,
"In a Lonely Place" is widely considered to be one of the best of the film noir genre, but I can't quite bring myself to give it noir status. It certainly has the ambiguity, sense of paranoia and seedy underworld setting of the standard noir, but it's also lacking in a few crucial elements that in my opinion give a film noir its noir: the femme fatale, the sense of underlying corruption. When Gloria Grahame first slinks her away across the screen, you think "Ah ha! Here's our femme fatale." But she's not, and this is only one instance of the way this film unpredictably turns the audience's expectations upside down.
The film is very unusual in the way it tells its story. Bogart plays a struggling screen writer suspected of murdering a young, star-struck girl. We know he hasn't done it, and we expect the film to be about the unraveling of the mystery surrounding her death in Bogie's attempts to prove his innocence. But that's not at all what we get. The murder is forgotten, never very important to begin with, and the film settles into a character study of Bogie, not concerned so much with whether or not he committed a murder but rather with whether or not he has the CAPACITY to commit murder. The cool, unflappable persona that greets us at the beginning of the movie (the Bogie we're used to), deteriorates into a paranoid, jealous, nearly psychotic loner by the film's end, and Gloria Grahame (who we early on suspected of having some devious aims) becomes our chief object of concern. The movie is all over the place in a good way, truly surprising and fresh.
The title of course refers to the lonely place of the interior psyche, and the demons that can haunt a man who has too much time with himself. Bogie spends so much time in the imaginary worlds he creates for his screenplays, that he can't seem to deal any longer with the reality of the material world around him, or maintain relationships that don't rely on his bullying his way into getting what he wants. And the saddest thing is that he knows this about himself. It's a great display of acting on Bogie's part and a neat deconstruction of the Bogie screen persona.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Great Performance in a Tragic Film Noir.,
Hot-tempered, uncompromising screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) hasn't been able to write a successful script in years. When he's asked to adapt a popular novel, Dix invites an enthusiastic young hatcheck girl (Martha Stewart) who has read the book to tell him about it. She cancels a date for the chance to explain the novel to the famous screenwriter, and he's happy not to have to read the book. But Dix is summoned to the police station for questioning the next day, because the young woman was murdered shortly after leaving his apartment. A neighbor, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), who saw Dix the night before from her balcony, verifies that the murder victim left Dix's apartment alone. But Dix remains the police's prime suspect, as he and Laurel fall in love. Although she loves Dix, his controlling, violent personality eventually cause Laurel to distrust him, and then to suspect that he may be guilty of murder, after all.
"In a Lonely Place" is loosely based on the novel by Dorothy B. Hughes and is wonderfully reflexive in that Dixon Steele adapts a novel in the film, which he alters dramatically for his purposes. Edmund H. North, who adapted "In a Lonely Place", departed radically from Hughes' novel and completely rewrote the Dix character. Dixon Steele is a typical film noir protagonist in that he falls victim to his own character flaw: his violent and controlling nature. "In a Lonely Place" is a "Hollywood insider" film that takes place in and around the filmmaking industry and presents an unflattering view of the industry's motives and the audience's tastes. Even Burnett Guffey's "sunny California" cinematography is dark. Dix is to some extent made a heroic figure within this environment by his stubbornness -a writer with integrity trying to do good work in an industry of "popcorn salesman". Director Nicholas Ray is masterful at manipulating the audience's sympathies from Dix to Laurel and back again. When we are sympathetic to Dix, he frustrates the audience by being his own worst enemy. When he is callous and volatile, we wonder if he committed the crime. Ultimately, "In a Lonely Place" is about the corrosive effects of distrust and suspicion. Humphrey Bogart achieves true acting greatness with his complex performance, which is one of the most memorable of his career.
The DVD: Bonus features include 2 documentaries, a sort of retrospective of Bogart's career, and trailers for "In a Lonely Place", "The Lady from Shanghai", and "The Big Heat". "In a Lonely Place Revisited" (20 minutes) is hosted by director Curtis Hanson. Speaking from the courtyard of the hacienda-style apartment community where Dix and Laurel lived in the film, Hanson talks about various aspects of the film, including the director, actors, characters, and the collaboration between director Nicholas Ray and Humphrey Bogart that produced such an emotionally honest performance. He also contrasts the film and the book on which it was based. Commentary is illustrated with film clips. "In a Lonely Place: Restoration Story" (5 minutes) is an interesting look at the process of restoring the film from its original, very battered, cellulose nitrate film stock. Includes interviews with Sony's Vice President of Asset Management, Grover Crisp, the folks at Cinetech who restored the film images, and the folks at Chase Productions who restored the film's sound. "The Bogart Collection" (4 minutes) is a text bio of Humphrey Bogart's career, followed by posters and publicity stills for some of his films. Subtitles are available for the film in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. Dubbing is available in French.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating!!!!,
Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place, released by Columbia Pictures in 1950, was long regarded as one of star Humphrey Bogart's minor films, as were most of the Columbia released Santana productions he made both during and after his lengthy and legendary tenure at Warner Bros. Now, the film is considered to contain one of his strongest performances. The Production Company was Bogart's own (Santana was the name of his yacht), which he started in 1948 and sold to Columbia Pictures in 1954. In a Lonely Place is not a whodunit, but it is cleverly disguised as one. The murder and suspense play a backstory to the study of an emotionally sick man involved in a world of strange tensions. The world is Hollywood and although a studio or camera are never seen on the screen, the film captures the loneliness, the lushness, and the edginess of it all. This remains one of the filmmaker's greatest and most deeply resonant features, and one of Bogart's best roles.Bogart plays Dix Steele, a fading screenwriter suffering from creative burnout. He is hired to adapt a best-selling novel, but instead of reading the book himself, he asks the hatcheck girl at his favorite nightclub to read the book and simply tell him the plot. The next morning, the girl is found brutally murdered, and Steele is the prime suspect. There isn't enough evidence to arrest him, but he's so good at thinking like a killer, and is always so up-front about what's on his mind, the police are forced to suspect him. "I'll be going now," he tells them. "Unless you plan on arresting me for lack of emotion."
It is the would-be starlet who has starred in a couple of B-pictures, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), a new tenant in Dix's apartment complex, who provides him with a solid alibi. Soon, they begin a romance in spite of Gray's lingering concerns that the violent Steele might in fact be the deadly killer, plunging the audience into an intriguing and suspenseful mystery, which quickly becomes a backdrop to the troubled romance between the two wonderfully realized characters.
A lesser director may have established Dix's innocence earlier on and although the spectator naturally assumes Dix is guilt-free (indeed, he does have an air-tight alibi), screenwriters Edmund H. North and Andrew Solt go to great lengths to play with audience expectations, although the film is more about the loneliness and despair in Tinseltown than about the murder mystery surrounding it. We don't see for ourselves that the cynical, alcoholic, and abusive Steele did not kill the hatcheck girl, and of course we have doubts since there is a limited amount of suspects. The only other suspect is Henry Kessler, who was Mildred's boyfriend. Dix, however, claims to have gone to sleep right after directing the girl to walk a block and take a cab home, but he is unable to provide the police with an alibi, and a tightening knot of suspicion begins to form around the writer. It is Mrs. Gray who claims she saw the hatcheck girl leave the apartment complex alone and provides him with one, and the couple fall in love as the suspense mounts.
At first, the new relationship is invigorating for the hard-boiled writer, who plunges into his latest script with a renewed vigor and discipline. But as the police continue to shadow him, Steele's own penchant for violence erupts against friends, strangers, and even Laurel herself, whose feelings are increasingly eclipsed by suspicion that her lover is a murderer, causing their relationship to spiral and her love to turn into mistrust, and fear. Bogart conveys Steele's world-weariness and underlying vulnerability, and manages the delicate task of making both his romantic yearning and sudden, murderous rages equally convincing. It gave him a role he could play with complexity, because the character's pride in his art, his selfishness, drunkenness, and lack of energy, stabbed with lightening strokes of violence, were shared by the real Bogart. Ultimately, that performance and Grahame's sympathetic work elevate In a Lonely Place into what has been called "an existential love story" more than a crime drama. The film is a desperate tale of fear and self-loathing in Hollywood cleverly posing as a taut noir thriller. It is the closing lines of the film version, which Dix had written into his
screenplay, that lingered in my mind longer than anything else. "I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me." That powerful line sums up Dix's love life, and the film, extremely well
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great direction, great acting!,
This is one of those "small" films that get pushed aside in an actor's or director's body of work, and it deserves to be right at the top of both Bogart's and Nicholas Ray's best films.
Ray's direction is brilliant--use of light and shadows is great, and the pacing keeps you right on the edge of your seat.
Bogart gives probably one of the best (if not the best) performances of his career, and Gloria Grahame matches him. The two of them play off of each other brilliantly.
One of the "film noir" classics, and contains one of the most memorable quotes from any film:
"I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me."
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars LONELY PLACE FOR CLASSICS AT COLUMBIA-TRISTAR,
Nicholas Ray's "In A Lonely Place" is one of those eternally compelling film noirs that haunts you once you've seen it. Bogart is screenwriter, Dixon Steele. He's got a terrible temper that doesn't make him popular either amongst the studio big shots or his nightclubbing buddies. But has that uncontrollable rage led him to kill? Det. Sgt. Brub Nicholai (Frank Lovejoy) and Capt. Lochner (Carl Benton Reid) seem to think so. Dix' is their prime suspect in the homicide of a cocktail waitress. Of course it doesn't help that she was a guest at Steele's home the very night that she disappeared. Apart from its initial focus on murder, the bulk of this film is a moody melodrama buttressed by an impossible romance.
As is his trademark, Bogie plays Dix' as the brooding outsider but with an undercarriage of wicked cynicism that, at times, can be quite unsettling. Gloria Grahame costars as Bogie's sultry neighbor, Laurel Gray. At first believing Dix's innocence she embarks upon an ill-fated relationship, against both her better judgment and the advice of her meddling masseur, Martha (Ruth Gilette). Director Nicholas Ray keeps the tension taut yet supple, manipulating his audience with the proverbial "did he or didn't he" question ever looming in the back of our minds until the final fade out. But the film suffers somewhat from an inconsistent commitment to its many plot threads which never add up to a satisfactory conclusion in the end. Instead we are given a series of vignettes - - some feeling as though they belong to another movie - - and then a truncated conclusion which appears more the tack on after three or four viewings.
I'm not sure what the term "complete digital restoration" means over at Columbia Studios. When I think in those terms flashes of Paramount's "Sunset Blvd." or Warner's "Mildred Pierce" immediately come to mind. But when Columbia uses it, as they do in their 'restoration snippet trailer' included on this disc, they merely mean that they've digitally repaired some of the glaring rips and tears in the original camera negative. That's not complete and it's not even close to what a film like "In A Lonely Place needs. Throughout this often low contrasted B&W image, there is an excessive amount of film grain, dirt, scratches and, on occasion, aliasing and shimmering of fine details. Night scenes are worse off than day scenes, showing signs of rear projection photography that are extremely grainy and sometimes even out of focus. Indoor and day scenes on the whole fare better. But hey, this is film noir and often grit and grain go hand in glove. The audio is nicely balanced but again, needs more clean up to bring it up to acceptable levels for DVD release.
As far as extras, we get a feeble "making of" featurette and a really lousy "The Bogart Collection" montage that shows us stills from all the films Bogie made at Columbia, but not a single film clip, presumably because the footage is just so bad in terms of its deterioration of the original camera negative and film stock. It's such a shame that the regime at Columbia that was responsible for earlier efforts in the B&W classics dept. have either been fired or departed for greener pastures as their exemplary efforts are nowhere to be found on the studio's recent batch of lack luster transfers, of which "In A Lonely Place" is but one!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bogey's Best,
Here's late 1940's early 1950's Film Noir, a love gone wrong drama. Bogart's ugliness, the angles of his forehead, the lines about his mouth are fascinating. Bogart is both violent and tender by body language. A truly remarkable and revealing performance. Not that the dialogue doesn't matter. It's brilliant give and take, literary musings with tough guy and gal repertoire. Gloria Graham is no piker either. She is the beautiful actress, but there is no doubt she loves Dixon Steele the screenwriter and comes to fear him too. I can't imagine another actress of this period pulling off this love story. And we get Bogart in love, a tough, and maybe psychotic guy in love. His manliness is counterpoint to his unprotected psyche. Also homage should be paid to Nicholas Ray's direction. There is a dark LA at night, eyes in the headlights of a post-war Buick feel in his direction. The story is adapted from a potboiler novel, but the adaptation takes it to another level.
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In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray (DVD)
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