In a Lonely Place (1950)

Dixon Steele: "I assure you I could never throw a lovely body from a moving car. My artistic temperament wouldn't permit it."
By Nicholas Ray
With Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame

I learnt about In a Lonely Place, surprisingly not from Humphrey Bogart but, from Gloria Grahame, who starred in The Big Heat (1953). Looking through her filmography, I discovered she played in a movie alongside Bogie, so I definitely had to see it.

In a Lonely Place starts off with Dixon Steele. We get to know him as a struggling screenwriter who is tired of reading books to adapt them. He decides to invite a young woman--who just read the book in question--to his home so she can tell him the story. The next morning, a friend of Mr. Steele, who is also a detective, rings his door and tells him that the young woman was murdered and that he is the prime suspect.

In many ways, he becomes the perfect suspect as he has a long list of violent offenses. However, the saving grace comes when an estranged neighbor is interrogated and tells the police officers that she saw the woman leave and that Dixon never went out after her. This neighbor becomes a friend and then a lover as they learn about each other. However, the specter of his violent temperament and the doubts in Laurel Gray's mind about what she really saw that night, come back to haunt them.

I was really pleased with that movie. The mystery is perfect, as the viewer is never really sure whether Dixon Steele is innocent or not, and we are never really sure about Laurel Gray's motivations and what she really did see that night. It is a great take on trust in a relationship and how external elements can affect it.

The emotionless Dixon Steele is perfect for Humphrey Bogart, with his love for murders in the movies he writes. Gloria Grahame shines in a role of a striving young Hollywood actress. I enjoyed how the murder, which was the focal point of the first half of the movie, faded in the background in order to let the couple and their hypothetical survival through the investigation become the most important point. The mystery of violent behavior is nothing new to the cinema, even back then, but rarely had it been portrayed in such a poignant and intriguing manner. This film seems to embody the great 50's with its intelligent dialogues, classical lead actors and brilliant suspense.

I liked: Bogart and Grahame. The mystery. The car scenes. The patio/apartments where the movie takes place. The ever-present question of, "Did he do it?".

I disliked: More details about the alibis could have been good.

I might be biased because of Humphrey Bogart's involvement in this film, but the film truly captured my interest, only letting go once "The End" appeared. If mystery movies are your thing, you definitely need to see this.


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