Noir Quotes – In a Lonely Place (1950) Dixon Steele (Bogart): I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.
“In a Lonely Place” (1950) film analysis. Spoilers.
Brub (Frank Lovejoy) demonstrates on Sylvia a possible murder method
When Edmund H. North adapted the story, he stuck close to the original source and John Derek was considered for the role of Dix because in the novel the character was much younger. North’s treatment was not used. Andrew Solt developed the screenplay with regular input from producer Robert Lord and director Nicholas Ray, and the end result is far different from the source novel. Solt claimed that Bogart loved the script so much that he wanted to make it without revisions – Solt maintains that the final cut is very close to his script – but further research shows that Ray made regular rewrites, some added on the day of shooting. In fact, only four pages of the 140-page script had no revisions. The film was produced by Bogart’s Santana Productions company, whose first film was Knock on Any Door (1949), which was directed by Ray and starred Bogart and Derek in the leading roles.
Louise Brooks wrote in her essay “Humphrey and Bogey” that she felt it was the role of Dixon Steele in this movie that came closest to the real Bogart she knew. “Before inertia set in, he played one fascinatingly complex character, craftily directed by Nicholas Ray, in a film whose title perfectly defined Humphrey’s own isolation among people. In a Lonely Place gave him a role that he could play with complexity because the character’s pride in his art, his selfishness, his drunkenness, his lack of energy stabbed with lightning strokes of violence, were shared equally by the real Bogart.” Apparently, on one voyage in their yacht Santana, Bogart showed an inexplicable burst of rage that frightened his wife Lauren Bacall.
The original ending had Dix strangling Laurel to death in the heat of their argument. Sgt. Nicolai comes to tell Dix that he has been cleared of Mildred’s murder but arrests him for killing Laurel. Dix tells Brub that he is finally finished with his screenplay; the final shot was to be of a page in the typewriter which has the significant lines Dix said to Laurel in the car (which he admitted to not knowing where to put) “I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me”. This scene was filmed halfway through the shooting schedule, but Ray hated the ending he had helped write. Ray later said, “I just couldn’t believe the ending that Bundy (screenwriter Andrew Solt) and I had written. I shot it because it was my obligation to do it. Then I kicked everybody off stage except Bogart, Art Smith and Gloria. And we improvised the ending as it is now. In the original ending we had ribbons so it was all tied up into a very neat package, with Lovejoy coming in and arresting him as he was writing the last lines, having killed Gloria. Huh! And I thought, shit, I can’t do it, I just can’t do it! Romances don’t have to end that way. Marriages don’t have to end that way, they don’t have to end in violence. Let the audience make up its own mind what’s going to happen to Bogie when he goes outside the apartment.”
Bacall and Ginger Rogers were considered for the role of Laurel Gray. Bacall was a natural choice given her off-screen marriage to Bogart and their box-office appeal, but Warner Bros. refused to loan her out, a move often thought to be in reaction to Bogart having set up his own independent production company, the type of which Warner Bros. were afraid would jeopardize the future of the major studios. Rogers was the producers’ first choice but Ray believed that his wife Gloria Grahame was right for the part. Even though their marriage was troubled, he insisted that she be cast. Her performance today is unanimously considered to be among her finest.
Grahame and Ray’s marriage was starting to come apart during filming. Grahame was forced to sign a contract stipulating that “my husband [Ray] shall be entitled to direct, control, advise, instruct and even command my actions during the hours from 9 AM to 6 PM, every day except Sunday … I acknowledge that in every conceivable situation his will and judgment shall be considered superior to mine and shall prevail.” Grahame was also forbidden to “nag, cajole, tease or in any other feminine fashion seek to distract or influence him.” The two did separate during filming. Afraid that one of them would be replaced, Ray took to sleeping in a dressing room, lying and saying that he needed to work on the script. Grahame played along with the charade and nobody knew that they had separated. Though there was a brief reconciliation, the couple divorced in 1952, when Ray found Grahame in bed with his thirteen-year-old son.
When he gets home, Dix checks up on Laurel. He finds she is an aspiring actress with only a few low-budget films to her credit. They begin to fall in love and, with Laurel assisting him, Dix finds new energy and goes back to work with enthusiasm, much to his agent’s delight.
Dix remains notoriously erratic, however; sometimes he behaves strangely. He says things that make his agent Mel and Brub’s wife Sylvia (Jeff Donnell) wonder if he did kill the girl. Lochner sows seeds of doubt in Laurel’s mind, pointing out Dix’s long record of violent behavior. When he learns about this, and that Laurel has not told him of her meeting with Lochner, Dix becomes furious and irrational. With her a terrified passenger, he drives at high speed until they sideswipe another car. Nobody is hurt in the collision, but when the other driver accosts him, Dix beats him unconscious and is about to strike him with a large rock when Laurel stops him.
Laurel gets to the point where she cannot sleep without taking pills. Her distrust and fear of Dix are becoming too much for her. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, but only because she is too scared of what he might do if she’d refused. She secretly makes a plane reservation and tells Mel she is leaving because she cannot take it anymore. Dix finds out and becomes violent, almost strangling her before he regains control of himself. Just then the phone rings. It is Brub with good news: Mildred’s boyfriend (named Henry Kesler, the same as the film’s associate producer) has confessed to her murder. Tragically, it is too late to salvage Dix and Laurel’s relationship.
- Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele
- Gloria Grahame as Laurel Gray
- Frank Lovejoy as Det. Sgt. Brub Nicolai
- Carl Benton Reid as Captain Lochner
- Art Smith as Mel Lippman
- Martha Stewart as Mildred Atkinson
- Jeff Donnell as Sylvia Nicolai
- Robert Warwick as Charlie Waterman
- Morris Ankrum as Lloyd Barnes
- William Ching as Ted Barton
- Steven Geray as Paul, Headwaiter
- Hadda Brooks as Singer
Dixon “Dix” Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter who has not had a hit, “since before the war.” While driving to meet his agent, Mel Lippman (Art Smith), at a nightclub, Dix’s explosive temper is revealed when, at a stoplight, he engages with another motorist in a confrontation that almost becomes violent.
At the nightclub, Mel cajoles him to adapt a book for a movie. The hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart), is engrossed in reading the copy meant for Dix; since she only has a few pages left to go, she asks to finish before passing it on to Dix. Dix has a second violent outburst when a young director bad-mouths Dix’s friend Charlie (Robert Warwick), a washed-up actor.
Dix claims to be too tired to read the novel, so he asks Mildred to go home with him, ostensibly to explain the plot. As they enter the courtyard of his apartment, they pass a new tenant, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame); Dix and Laurel are clearly intrigued by each other. As soon as Mildred is convinced that Dix is not trying to seduce her, she describes the story, in the process confirming what he had suspected—the book is trash. He gives her cab fare to get home.
The next morning, he is awakened by an old army buddy who is now a police detective, Brub Nicolai (Frank Lovejoy), who takes him downtown to be questioned by Captain Lochner (Carl Benton Reid). The coat check girl Mildred was murdered during the night and Dix is a suspect. Laurel is brought to the police station, she confirms seeing the girl leave Dix’s apartment alone and unharmed but Lochner is still deeply suspicious. Although Dix shows no overt sympathy for the dead victim, on the way home from the police station, he anonymously sends her two dozen white roses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_a_Lonely_Place
In a Lonely Place is a 1950 American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, produced for Bogart’s Santana Productions. The script was written by Andrew P. Solt from Edmund North’s adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes‘ 1947 novel of the same name.
Bogart stars as Dixon Steele, a deranged and troubled screenwriter suspected of murder, and Grahame co-stars as Laurel Gray, a neighbor who falls under his spell. Beyond its surface plot of confused identity and tormented love, the story is a mordant comment on Hollywood mores and the pitfalls of celebrity and near-celebrity, similar to two other American films released that same year, Billy Wilder‘s Sunset Boulevard and Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s All About Eve.
Although lesser known than his other work, Bogart’s performance is considered by many critics to be among his finest and the film’s reputation has grown over time along with Ray’s.
It is now considered a classic film noir, as evidenced by its inclusion on the Time “All-Time 100 List” as well as Slant Magazine‘s “100 Essential Films.” In 2007, 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.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_a_Lonely_Place
Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) and his neighbor Laurel (Gloria Grahame) are just getting to know each other romantically when the police begin questioning Dixon about his involvement in the murder of a girl he met once. Certain her new love interest is innocent, Laurel stands by Dixon, but as the police continue pressing him, Dixon begins to act increasingly erratically. The blossoming love affair suffers as Laurel begins to wonder if Dixon really might be a killer.
In a Lonely Place (1950) – Nicholas Ray (whisper)
This among many great scenes in Nicholas Ray’s superb film In a Lonely Place. Endorsed by Bogart’s film production company, the film is a compelling and unsentimental account of two people destined for tragedy. This film, along with Huston’s The Treasure of Sierra Madre demonstrated Bogart’s range as an actor. Also, Gloria Grahame is very good as the woman who decides to put her faith in the troubled writer, Dixon Steele. This is, perhaps, Nicholas Ray’s best film released in 1950. Finally, the striking photography is by veteran cinematographer Burnett Guffey.