In a Lonely Place Review

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A screenwriter (Bogart) is given an alibi by a beautiful woman across the hall from him when a young lady is found murdered. Erratic at the best of times, violent at the worst, has our scribe got something to hide?


The most complex characterisation of Bogart's career is the centrepiece of this involved and sophisticated film noir. He's the Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele who's keen on the sauce and a spot of violence — even against women. One night he invites a garrulous girl back to his apartment; early the next day she's discovered murdered and he's the prime suspect. Gloria Grahame who lives in the apartment opposite provides him with an alibi because he looks "interesting", but as they gradually fall for each other, his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic.

A tremendously effective study of an individual on a knife-edge of nerves and instability, In A Lonely Place is unusual for the way in which it manages to switch perspective halfway through so that our identification with Bogart is suddenly replaced by a sharing of Grahame's unease. Like Rick in Casablanca, Dixon takes losing in love badly, but here this is taken to the psychological limit, producing a searing portrait of man tearing himself in two.

Ray wrings plenty of sweat from the Hitchcockian premise, and Bogart outdoes himself as a man mid-breakdown.