In A Lonely Place – Day Sixteen – #40movies40days
This is another Instant Watch classic on NetFlix. Director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, 8 Mile, Wonder Boys, Hand that Rocks the Cradle), speaking on the film’s dvd commentary, cites In A Lonely Place as not just his favorite film noir but one of his favorite films– period!
This is the classic Humphrey Bogart film you’ve probably never seen. And it is well worth a look. In A Lonely Place was produced by Bogart’s own production company and was directed by Nicolas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar, King of Kings). The film was written by Andrew Solt based on a book by Dorothy B. Hughes.
In A Lonely Place is a Power of Truth film filled with distrust, doubt, paranoia and suspicion. Bogart plays Dixon Steele, a well-regarded screenwriter fallen on hard times. “You haven’t had a hit since before the war!” He is a heavy drinker, has a violent temper and unexplained rages.
Dix has an opportunity to adapt a best-selling novel for a successful director as his next project. A hat check girl at his swank local watering hole is enamored with the story. He can’t be bothered to read the book so he takes her home to “tell the story” to him.
The perky naive hat check girl follows Dix home, breaking a date with her boyfriend to do so. She enthuses about the story but Dix thinks the novel is trite. He’s too tired (and perhaps too drunk) to drive her home. He gives her a wad of cash for a taxi, instead. She leaves and winds up dead, strangled and thrown out of a speeding car.
The police suspect Dix. He has a “rap sheet” filled with reports of violent behavior (including violence against women) various bar fights and assaults, none of which has resulted in a charge much less a conviction. Dix seems to have all the symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Capt. Lochner: (After Dixon has replied with sarcasm to Lochner’s questions) You’re told that the girl you were with last night was found in Benedict Canyon, murdered. Dumped from a moving car. What’s your reaction? Shock? Horror? Sympathy? No – just petulance at being questioned. A couple of feeble jokes. You puzzle me, Mr. Steele..Dixon Steele: Well, I grant you, the jokes could’ve been better, but I don’t see why the rest should worry you – that is, unless you plan to arrest me on lack of emotion.
Grahame gives the impression of having been wounded in ways Bogart cannot even begin to fathom—if he even cared to try. She’s a ladylike floozy, sultry yet diffident, emotionally calloused but acutely sensitive, at once incredibly cool and undeniably hot.
Hollywood atmosphere, existential malaise, and political subtext (it was shot during the McCarthy era Hollywood Witch Hunt) combine to inform a sensational love story, played on the edge of the void and strong enough to sustain one of the most shamelessly romantic lines in any movie: “I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me.” The line occurs twice, spoken at different points in the drama by each of the lovers, just to make sure that we never forget it. (And we never do)