In a Lonely Place Screen 24 articles

In a Lonely Place

1950

In a Lonely Place Poster
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    Introduction to Negative Space: Manny Farber
    1971 | Farber on Film (pp. 692-693)

    In a Lonely Place is a Hollywood scene at its most lackluster, toned down, limpid, with Ray's keynote strangeness: a sprawling, unbent composition with somewhat dwarfed characters, each going his own way. A conventional studio movie but very nice: Ray stages everything, in scenes heavily involved with rules of behavior, like a bridge game amongst good friends, no apparent sweat.

  • Grahame’s performance powerfully conveys the living nightmare of realizing that someone you truly love also scares you, a pattern that’s as sadly common in abusive relationships today as in the 1950s. But the film presents the relationship in the style of a classic Hollywood melodrama, as a doomed romance between two flawed but charismatic people. There are wells of darkness in the original novel that it doesn’t dare look into.

  • Grahame and Ray were married, but they separated during the shooting, and the screen breakup of the Bogart-Grahame romance consciously incorporates elements of Ray's personality. The film's subject is the attractiveness of instability, and Ray's self-examination is both narcissistic and sharply critical, in fascinating combination. It's a breathtaking work, and a key citation in the case for confession as suitable material for art.

  • It's a film with not only a cynical view of Hollywood but also one with a central character that is figured with ambiguity and complexity, from which the film draws incredibly poignant and intense tension, that is unusual for Hollywood. Ray’s film is one of the finest noir melodramas Hollywood ever produced; it is a film in which all elements – performance, story, score, lighting and editing – work in complete concert to realise the emotional weight of its drama.

  • Not unlike Albert Camus's The Stranger, Nicholas Ray's remarkable In a Lonely Place represents the purest of existentialist primers... Dixon's history of abusing women seasons his material but it certainly doesn't help his credibility factor. What unravels—or, rather, how Dixon begins to unravel—becomes a brilliant extrapolation of what Camus called “philosophical suicide.”

  • In a Lonely Place (1950) is one of those films that, by a kind of strange magic, reveals its greatness twenty or thirty minutes after it ends. There’s an honesty and emotional texture to the film that makes it really unsettling, especially given its superficial appearance as a genre picture.

  • It’s a biting and VERY angry look at the world of show business, very much ahead of its time. Hollywood has always been a navel-gazing place – there are tons of films about making films … It’s hard to do it well. In a Lonely Place is one of the best films made about “the business”.

  • One of the most heartbreaking love stories ever committed to film. It's certainly one of the most poignant pictures (violently poignant at times) within the canon of film noir, a genre haunted by doomed love.

  • What's up on the screen is enough to satisfy us without resorting to biographical criticism: that is, a film whose wit, maturity, and bruised romanticism defy us to subdue or deconstruct them. LONELY is the most perfect sort of romance: one that shows the lover revealed as a "tyrannical detective" (Bogart is Spade even when he isn't); one that squeezes out a little of our own optimism as we watch suspicion roast our heroes alive.

  • It’s a classic Nick Ray situation: two people fighting against their natures in a futile stab at normalcy. That the director’s own marriage to Grahame was breaking up at the time adds a good number of discomfiting layers to this pestilent valentine, as does a scene in which a supporting character’s attempt to psychoanalyze Steele and Gray’s situation is met with Neanderthal derision. Wherever people are, whatever their perspectives—lonely places all.

  • If Dix's existential alienation is palpable, the film itself verges on psychodrama... Hollywood atmosphere, existential malaise, and political subtext combine to inform a sensational love story, played on the edge of the void and strong enough to sustain one of the most shamelessly romantic lines in any movie: "I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me."

  • Ray's film is of course a touchstone picture, a galvanizing hybrid of film-noir expressionism and Cassavettes-anticipating emotional rawness. (Much of the film, and in particular the ending, was a result of improvisation, not a very common practice in Hollywood at the time.) It's very nearly postmodern in its deconstruction of screen idol Bogart.

  • It is unlikely Bogart was ever more frightening, and he doesn’t even touch a gun. Nor was he ever so pathetic, so vulnerable, so damaged. His Dixon Steele lashes out at the universe for the success it took from him, and for the wisdom and sensitivity it refuses to recognize—primarily because he is so quick to temper with those he can’t stand, which is most of the world. In other words, Dix is Nicholas Ray.

  • Nicholas Ray’s melodrama, from 1950, is one of the darkest, harshest, and most devastating love stories ever made... Nicholas Ray’s melodrama, from 1950, is one of the darkest, harshest, and most devastating love stories ever made.

  • Bogie's greatest performance betrays no clear indication of innocence or guilt, and as Grahame ascends to the role of audience surrogate, her dilemma is all too palpable. By the end, it hardly feels hard-boiled, but it sure packs a mean punch.

  • Above all perhaps is a stingingly personal documentary about the breakup between a filmmaker and an actress, with Ray contemplating the self-lacerating tough-guy staggering out of the screen and all but muttering, "I was born when she kissed me..."

  • Humphrey Bogart never topped the character he played in this bleak noir, an alcoholic, vindictive writer who may or may not have murdered a girl he takes home one night. Ray’s direction consistently pulls focus onto the savage glint in the actor’s bared teeth and flop sweat, but the director also hones in on Bogie’s hangdog sadness.

  • The film’s ambitious goal is to gradually make the question of whether or not Dix killed Mildred—which constitutes its entire narrative—seem almost irrelevant. When the answer arrives, it’s both too soon and much too late, and In A Lonely Place ends on a bleak, defeated note that makes its title an understatement.

  • It savagely sketches the vulgarity and shallowness of Tinseltown—the autograph hunters, the crassly arrogant stars, the vacuous audience and the moneymen eager to feed its appetite. But what makes this a heartbreaking tragedy instead of a jaded satire is that, beneath its bruised pessimism, the film still clings to the hope that art and integrity and love can survive in the wasteland—a hope that dies slowly, agonizingly before our eyes.

  • Bogart achieves something exceptionally difficult in this film, allowing Dixon to be at his most pitiable when he's at his most despicable... Bogart forges one of the great portraits of an abuser, recognizing that abusers always see themselves as the wronged party. But he goes further than that, as he and Ray offer a figurative illusion of looking directly into Dixon's emotional landscape, seeing the barren realm of a man, who, like all of us, is the architect of his own loneliness.

  • There is no noir more profoundly sad than Nicholas Ray’s “In a Lonely Place” (1950), which unfolds with dark lyricism against a backdrop of violence, cynicism and suspicion. One of Ray’s most indelible stories involving characters who lash out in pointless fury—and one of his most personal films—it incorporates melodrama, echoes of Shakespeare, and heart-stopping performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

  • Numerous Hollywood movies celebrate the redemptive power of love. Few trace, step by step, the progress of a love affair that brings about a protagonist’s redemption only to disintegrate, canceling hope irrevocably. That is the fate of Dixon Steele in Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950). Dix carves it out for himself after little more than three weeks of romantic bliss with his neighbor Laurel Gray. The cause is his inability to subdue his violent temper.

  • In his 1950 noir masterpiece In a Lonely Place we find what is perhaps the director’s most tragic exploration of identity.

  • While keeping the homme fatale at the center of Hughes’s novel, Ray shocked viewers with a denouement possibly creepier than that of the book. In the novel Dix is a remorseless, cold-hearted killer. In the movie, though, he is equally capable of love as well as murder. For those who long to see the misanthrope redeemed by love (and really, who does not?), it is Dix’s killing off his love affair that cuts to the quick. His remorse is almost unbearable.

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