In a Lonely Place (1950)

Dir. Nicholas Ray. Humphrey Bogart plays Dix Steele, not an overconfident pornographic actor as the name suggests, but a once successful Hollywood screenwriter looking for his next hit. Dix is cursed with possessing both a crime writers’ fascination with the mechanics of murder, and a cruel violent streak that poisons his relationships with his colleagues, friends, and romantic partners. Presented and scored as a gritty film noir, the predominantly domestic setting creates more of a tragic, mournful atmosphere, rather than the seductive dark glamor of other film noirs. Gloria Grahame is Laurel Gray, the sympathetic neighbour attracted to Dix’s “nice face” – her lightness and easy grace buoys the heavy and occasionally over serious Bogart performance. The night club scene is unforgettable, not only for the music, but in a film largely about writing and dialogue, the filmmakers’ confidence in dropping the sound of our star’s conversation, leaving us with the sublime voice of jazz singer Hadda Brooks.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.