Before doing this blog I was blissfully unaware of Humphrey Bogart being bad! I’d only seen a handful of his movies and what with his legendary status following you around since whenever I can remember. Call me naive, I’d always thought he played good guys. Well rogues or strong willed tough guys with a heart of gold or a cast iron moral code. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong! He was somewhat naughty in The Desperate Hours but I have to say I didn’t expect him to beat his despicable me part in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. So you see I wasn’t ready for Dixon Steele to turn up in In a Lonely Place and not reading anything about it when going in I’d expected him to be another Samuel Spade style PI.
Dixon isn’t all bad, it’s just he can’t hold down his uncontrollable rage. When he goes, Dixon flips into a vile violent temper that bursts out in pure fury on anyone who says the wrong thing. It’s all fight with no flight or fright. It’s incredible to see and still has the power to shock after all these years. Just the opening scene at the traffic lights gives you an insight at that ready to fly road rage.
Tagline – Look Deep Into These Eyes! Is It Love, Hate Or Murder? They’re The Eyes Of Humphrey Bogart In A Lonely Place.
Deep in his core, Dixon Steele does have a loving side. He’s romantic with neighbour Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) and kind to his washed up old actor friend with a insatiable thirst, Charlie Waterman (Robert Warwick). Dixon is a screenwriter, once the big thing but now riding a wave of mediocre reviews and hitting a writer’s block. His loyal agent Mel Lippman (Art Smith) has faith in his friend to turn a run-of-the-mill bestselling book into a smash hit at the box office. They all hope Dix can keep his inner demons under wrap.
With the discovery of a young girls body, a well liked, friendly and joyful girl called Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart). Dix is called into the precinct by an old friend, police detective Brub Nicolai (Frank Lovejoy) to have a chat with Captain Lochner (Carl Benton Reid). Thing is Dixon Steele has a good alibi but he shows such a lack of empathy and heart it raises suspicions on his character.
Dixon Steele – “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 was a novel by American crime writer Dorothy B Hughes. Her story was adapted by Andrew Solt and Edmund North with Nicholas Ray taking the directors chair.
- That opening traffic lights scene brilliantly highlights the type of character we might be getting from Dixon Steele.
- Nicholas Ray and Gloria Grahame where married at the time but going through a rough patch. Now if this is true I couldn’t stop laughing… Apparently producer Robert Lord had a contract set up for Gloria to sign. Looking out for his investment I assume. “My husband shall be entitled to direct, control, advise, instruct, and even command my actions during the hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day except Sunday. I acknowledge that in every conceivable situations his will and judgment shall be considered superior to mine, and shall prevail.” and also forbidden to “nag, cajole, tease, or in any other feminine fashion seek to distract or influence him.” Hahaha I bet she let rip on Sunday and opened a can of whoop ass on him.
- Book – Well a spoiler of sorts, this is what didn’t happen in the film. So maybe don’t read if you haven’t seen it but it’s not really a spoiler. Dixon’s character sounds like it is changed quite drastically from the Dorothy B Hughes novel. Sounds like he was devoid of any redeeming qualities as he pretends to be a writer whilst getting handouts from his uncle. With his uncontrollable internal rage resulting in multiple murders challenging a very different character study of this troubled man.
- Alternative Ending – The fascinating thing I read after the film was Nicholas Ray actually changed and reshot the end scenes. With them being a vastly different to the original harder hitting end. You know what, the alternative ending, in my eyes, would of been even better. That would of been some dark ass shit! You can read about it on the background section on Wikipedia. Does anyone know if that original ending still exists?
Within the few years of doing this movie blog I’ve made sure I manage to watch a bogie film at least every few months. Slowly but surely working my way through his filmography. I have a long way to go but there’s no rush. Saying that, I watched They Drive by Night last night and that will be my next post, pop back to see what I thought of that.
Thanks for visiting my humble little movie blog. Have a great weekend… Mikey Wolf