Saturday, December 25, 2010

In a Lonely Place

Humphrey Bogart: the original tough guy. One minute he's tough (the Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), next minute he's a softie (Casablanca, Sabrina). Sometimes he's both (To Have and Have Not). That is slick.

Screenwriter Dixon Steele (Bogart) becomes a suspect in the murder of a hat-check girl he took home the previous night. His neighbor Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) provides an airtight alibi to the police and Steele's friendship with her blossoms into a romance.

Throughout In a Lonely Place, Steele shows behavior that portrays him as not only a suspect but also as the culprit. One scene in particular shows that flawlessly. He has two friends, one of them a cop investigating the case, re-enact how the murder possibly took place. As he's describing it, we hear his voice and see his face change as though he's getting a sick satisfaction out of it. His behavior really gets under your skin.

In a Lonely Place provides an interesting take on film noirs. Instead of spending the whole movie on the crime presented early on, the murder is treated more as a subplot. Bogart clearly gives his best performance as Steele (Louise Brooks said she felt that Steele was the closest to the Bogart she knew). Nicholas Ray, who's better known for Rebel Without a Cause, gives an intense tale of love, scandal and Hollywood.

My Rating: *****

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