Saturday, March 9, 2013
231. In a Lonely Place (1950)
Running Time: 94 minutes
Directed By: Nicholas Ray
Written By: Dorothy B. Hughes, Edmund H. North, Andrew Solt, from novel by Dorothy B. Hughes
Main Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Art Smith
Click here to view the trailer
RAY WEEK: PART I
Whoa, look at me - after two days away from the blog, I use a Saturday off from work to squeeze in two reviews! Could there be three? Stay tuned. Today, after the positive "Trainspotting" review, I figured I'd keep things rolling by kicking off "Ray Week" - a four film salute to Nicholas Ray.
Humphrey Bogart is Dixon Steele, a Hollywood screenwriter who hasn't had a hit in quite some time and who is being sought out to adapt a dreamy, love novel into a hit epic. While dining at a local Hollywood hot spot, Dixon meets a hat check girl who gushes about the novel. It is also at the hot spot where we learn that Dixon has a short fuse and will tussle with anyone for even looking at him with cross eyes. Later, he picks up the hat check girl, coaxing her to cancel her prearranged date and go back to his place, so she can summarize the novel for him and he can decide if he wants to write it. At his place, the girl does just that and when Dixon gets too tired to entertain her any longer, he sends her away with $20 and directions to the taxicab stand. The next morning, a detective and friend of Dixon's, Brub Nicolai (Lovejoy), comes knocking on Dixon's door, summoning him to the station. Dixon is confused at first, but after arriving at the station is told that the hat check girl was found dead and that he's the prime suspect. Dixon takes it all in stride, playing it cool, like only Humphrey Bogart would do and can only think of one person that can vouch for him staying in the night before - his neighbor (Grahame). So, his neighbor, Laurel Gray, is brought to the station and confirms everything that she knows - that Dixon was in the night before and as far as she knows, he stayed in - and they're cut loose, only to strike up a romance, after arriving back at their apartments. Now, we have a "whodunit" on our hands, wrapped around a budding love story.
Humphrey Bogart is now 0-115 as far as his record for impressing me goes. Okay, so maybe there haven't been THAT many Bogart selections in THE BOOK, but I can think of at least five, off the top of my head - five so-called classics - that really failed to win me over. You've got the disappointing double shot with him and Bacall ("The Big Sleep" and "To Have and Have Not"), the mildly entertaining, but also mildly disappointing "The Maltese Falcon" and don't even get me started on that train wreck, so-called SUPER COLOSSAL CLASSIC "Casablanca". In fact, there has only been ONE other Bogart film that I've watched for the 1001 journey and that was "Angels with Dirty Faces", still an absolute favorite of mine, but not because of Bogart. But let's dig a little deeper, because you see, I didn't mind Bogart in "Angels" and if you'll recall, in "Angels" he played the bad guy. Perhaps we're onto something. Maybe, just maybe that's the ticket. Maybe I can't stomach Bogart as his cliche character - you know, the one he ALWAYS plays - the cigarette smoking, dame pleasing, fedora wearing, fast talking cool cat. I hate THAT guy. So maybe that's why I was ultimately so disappointed in "In a Lonely Place", because we ALMOST had bad guy Bogart back! Had they gone the route that apparently the novel took, Bogart would've been revealed to be the killer and I would've loved that. But gracious no, we can't have our beloved Humphrey revealed to be a killer!! Why that'd be like serving a grilled cheese sandwich, hold the cheese!
Okay enough Bogart bashing. I have four (that I can think of) Bogart movies left and I'm determined to find SOMETHING appealing in at least one of them. What I really should've done was watch them all as part of a "Bogart Week", then maybe he'd have grown on me, but by now it's too late for that. As for the rest of the picture (sans Bogart), I just wasn't THAT impressed. It was okay I guess, but, as far as I'm concerned it wasn't anything worth writing home about and it all seemed pretty plain if you ask me. They failed to draw any real suspense out of me and shame on them for not capitalizing on Mildred (the murder victim) screaming "Help", near the beginning of the film. I was almost sure that they'd elude to that and it was something simple that could've added some real frustrating (in a good way) and suspenseful moments for the audience. It was barely a film-noir and even though it IS classified as noir, it's a sad excuse for one. Gloria Grahame was pretty good in it, but then there's also "The Big Heat", which she's also in, provides better performances and is a FAR better example of a fantastic 50s noir. Case closed.
RATING: 5.5/10 Well Mr. Ray, not a good start. But, hey I'm an open-minded fellow and he has three more chances to impress me, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. Next up for "Ray Week": "Johnny Guitar".
MOVIES WATCHED: 630
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 371
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