In a Lonely Place
1950 | Film Noir | English | 94 minutes
Dixon Steele is a fading screenwriter out of work primarily as a result of his heavy drinking and violent temper. His agent, Mel Lippman, encourages him to adapt a book for a film. Dixon is too lazy to read the book, so he manages to convince a hat check girl, Mildred Atkinson, who has read the book, to come to his apartment and give him a synopsis. Dixon gets what he wants. Mildred leaves the apartment to head home. Her departure is noticed by a next door neighbor, the beautiful Laurel Gray. That night Mildred is brutally murdered and her body thrown in a ditch from a moving car. Dixon’s former army pal, Brub, now a detective, brings Dixon to police headquarters, where he is interrogated. Dixon’s violent past and misdeeds make him an obvious suspect. Luckily, Laurel provides an alibi when she informs the police that she indeed saw Mildred leaving Dixon’s apartment, alone. Dixon and Laurel become involved romantically. Laurel soon becomes aware that Dixon is a bit of a psychopath. She becomes frightened. Time will tell if her fears are justified.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 97% 97%
- TIME Magazine: Inclusion in the “All Time 100 List”
- SLANT Magazine: Inclusion in the “100 Essential Films”
- IN A LONELY PLACE was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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Everybody should be happy this morning. Humphrey Bogart is in top form in his latest independently made production. The picture itself is a superior cut of melodrama. Mr Bogart looms large on the screen and he moves flawlessly through a script which is as flinty as the actor himself. Screenwriter Andrew Solt, in shaping the character of Dixon Steele, makes no attempt to psychoanalyze him and neither does Mr. Bogart in his performance, but the actor plays with such terrific drive that one is content not to pick the characterization apart. Gloria Grahame gives a smoldering portrayal as Laurel.
The film has the look, feel, and trappings of a film noir, and a murder takes place in it, but it is really about the dark places in a man’s soul and a woman who thinks she can heal it. IN A LONELY PLACE is a superb example of the mature Hollywood studio system at the top of its form. Bogart embodies this noir quality flawlessly.
Humphrey Bogart’s boozy screenwriter plays off perfectly against a marvelous Gloria Grahame in Nicolas Ray’s hardboiled thriller. Bogart’s world-weariness and romanticism take on something brutal and misogynist in this 1950 masterpiece directed by Nicholas Ray, and Gloria Grahame’s performance is marvelous.
Nicholas Ray’s IN A LONELY PLACE is the grayest, most morally ambiguous of film noirs—and arguably the most self-reflexive. Although Bogart gives an indelible performance, Grahame steals the movie as the would-be starlet next door, who briefly pulls Dix together.
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