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In a Lonely Place

Normally I watch a film from my extensive library, rent it via Amazon, or watch one on Netflix more designed for the young viewer.

Occasionally I am drawn by a film on television on one of the movie channels and this occasion was last week’s In a Lonely Place. I was influenced by a strong cast of Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

The story is of a drunken, violent, screenwriter Dix Steele (Humphrey Bogart) who takes a hat check girl home from a club who later is murdered.

Steele is the prime suspect because of his character and past.

He falls for his neighbour actress Laurel (Gloria Grahame) who, after initially supporting him in a police interview, begins to suspect he might have done it.

I won’t do a spoiler but the film noir has an exciting denouement.

Although Bogey has a tough guy image he often portrays a vulnerable side and does so to considerable effect here.

It’s a performance of pathos which convinces the viewer that he might have done it whilst evincing sympathy.

Gloria Grahame is aggressive and, despite Bogey wanting Lauren Bacall for the part, the chemistry works.

Bogey was a big drinker.

You might think these types (Stuart Grainger and Richard Harris were too) would be disruptive but they were surprisingly professional.

Gloria Grahame – a great actress – had a difficult life and career largely because she lacked confidence in her looks.

She was a descendant of John of Gaunt.

She married the director of In a Lonely Place – Nicholas Ray – then Cy Howard, then Ray’s son Anthony.

This meant that Anthony’s brother Timothy was both her brother-in-law and her stepson.

Both Ray senior and Howard brought custody actions against Gloria Grahame for the children of their marriage.

Grahame had several cosmetic operations for her thin upper lip and stuffed her mouth with cotton wool which must have made the kissing scenes interesting!

As a film noir this ranks as one of the best.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts