One year, one film: 1950
In a Lonely Place, dir. Nicholas Ray
starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame
Recommended | Highly Recommended | MUST-SEE
In a Lonely Place is a film I haven’t watched in years (something I need to remedy!), but it’s a film I still remember very well, even after so much time has passed. Based on the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes,** In a Lonely Place is one of Hollywood’s favorite story types to tell: a story about itself. Humphrey Bogart’s character of Dixon Steele is a screenwriter in a tough spot, having gone several years without writing a “hit” film. He’s also a man with a very bad temper, which leads him to become a suspect when a woman he recently met is murdered.
**I read the novel from my library several years ago and would recommend it to anyone who has seen and/or loves the film, though they are quite different.
Undoubtedly one of the bleakest and best examples of noir, In a Lonely Place is dark, tense, and fascinating to watch. But did the critics of 1950 agree?
If Modern Screen magazine is any indication, the answer is yes. The mag’s review of the film stated that “every detail seems right”: “perfect casting and acting down to the last bit player […] suspense, and a romance which is frank and exciting, add up to a heck of a good picture” (August 1950 issue). Another fan mag, Screenland, described the film as an “intense psychological drama,” with “lots of suspense.”
In fact, just about every publication seems to have given the film a rave review. Variety praised Ray’s maintenance of constant suspense throughout the film, also giving “kudos” to the stellar performances by Bogart and Grahame.
Even resident grump Bosley Crowther of The New York Times liked the film, praising Bogart’s performance (“he moves flawlessly through the script”) and calling the production on the whole “a superior cut of melodrama.”
To the classic film fans of today and the critical eyes and ears of yesteryear, In a Lonely Place is a winner.