Noir-vember Day 27: In a Lonely Place (1950) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
27Nov/100

Noir-vember Day 27: In a Lonely Place (1950)

I woke up last night by the sound of commotion in my dining room.  I went into the room to see what was going on and when I flipped on the light, I saw Humphrey Bogart’s ghost, sitting at my kitchen table.  The Bogart who was at my table was not a later in life Bogey, but a man in his prime, dressed in a trench coat, hat and smoking a cigarette in a way that only Bogart could.  He also looked quite agitate and when I asked him what the problem was, he bluntly answered my question.

Bogart- “You and your friends decided to do a Noir-vember and review a different noir every day.  You have picked between new and classic films, black and white and color, and yet it is now after Thanksgiving, and no one has thought to review one of my films. I am the man that is associated with noirs in general.  I was Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. Ask 10 people what they think of when they think of noir and I guarantee that 8 of the people will say Bogart as a PI.  This is all true and yet, there are no movies of mine but yet your site reviews two Joseph Gordon-Levitt films in a row!  This just seems wrong somehow”

Me- “We could not leave the king of the noirs on the sideline forever, just this night, I watched one of your lesser known noirs, “In a Lonely Place.”

This seemed to calm him down a bit and looked really quite pleased with my selection.  I could tell he wanted to ask me something so I waited for him to speak again.

Bogart- “A fine selection kid. A noir that is different in tone than most of my films.  While there is a murder that I am the chief suspect in, the movie really is not about any death or police cases, but more of a study of a man and his relationships.  So out with it, what did you think of the film?”

I really did not want to answer this question, but I did not know the rules on being visited by a ghost of one of Hollywood’s most famous stars, so I decided to play it safe and answer truthfully.  I took a second, steeled my nerves, and answered the question.

Me- “I really did not like it much.  There wasn’t much of a story, the acting was way too melodramatic and it seemed really long for a movie that barely reaches 90 minutes.”

Bogart- “What about me, what did you think of my character, Dix Steele?  In years afterwards, people would claim it is one of my best and under appreciated performances.”

Me- “I thought you were the best thing in the film.  You can play an asshole really well.  You have played characters with a bit of an edge before or surly characters, but In A Lonely Place, you were 100% unlikable.”

Bogart- “That is great, that is what I was going for, so what’s the problem?”

Me- “The problem was that, it was a character piece where the main character is an unlikable, ill tempered man who has a history of beating on women.  This isn’t a character you want to root for or even follow around for 90 minutes.  This wouldn’t have been a problem if the rest of the cast had fleshed out roles, but everyone else was just playing a stereotype, be it the scared girlfriend, the put upon friend or the funny drunk.”

By this time, I could tell Bogart was getting a little defensive about the film.  His smoking had become more agitated and his eyes were bulging out of his head.

Bogart- “The movie was not about the murder or anyone investigating the crime.  The film was out to explore the obsessive nature of Steele’s relationship with Gloria.  The acting was supposed to be over dramatic and characters thin.  The director, Nicholas Ray, mined similar territory a few years later with Rebel Without a Cause and that is lauded as a masterpiece and you like that film.

Me- “Rebel Without A Cause dealt with teenagers, the actions and emotions with people that age felt right, when you did this movie, you were 49, which is a sad way for a middle-aged man to behave.”

Bogart- “Is there anything in this film that you actually enjoyed?”

Me- “Your character’s name, Dix Steele, that name brought me many moments of enjoyment.

Bogart- “Sigh”

Me- “I am sorry to give you the bad news, but In A Lonely Place is a movie that I don’t get the love for.  I like films that veer off into unusual directions and are very different than the rest of the films in a genre, but this film did not work for me.  I think you did a fine job in the film, but in all reality I would have much rather of seen you play a character like Sam Spade again in a typical noir than be in a film as oddly paced and put togheter as this.”

Bogart, at this time near there was no changing my mind.  He stood up and was fading away when I realized I had to ask him one more question.

Me- “Mr. Bogart sir, I have one last question.  In heaven, does the plot of The Big Sleep actually make sense?

Bogart- “Kid, there are some things that even the angels can’t fix.”

Posted by Ryan

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