Humphrey Bogart’s career largely consisted of starring in crime dramas. He started off as the heavy in gangster films in the 1930s and moved up to star, generally a detective or all around tough guy in the 1940s.
By the late 1940s Bogart was a huge star and left Warner Bros. and formed his own production company, Santana Productions. Today’s Sunday Matinee is 1950’s In a Lonely Place which just got released on Blu-ray from Criterion.
Bogart stars as Dixon Steele, a washed up screenwriter with a history of violence. Steele has been having trouble writing and is supposed to adapt a novel. A hat check girl (Martha Stewart) reads the book for Steele and comes over to his house to tell him about it. The next day she’s dead and Steele is the prime suspect.
Steele’s neighbour Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) sees the girl with Steele and sees her leave his place that night. Gray tells the police who still suspect Steele. Steele and Gray start to fall in love and Steele is inspired to write again. Things are going great except Steele’s angry and violent outbursts sure make Gray start to suspect that maybe he did kill the girl.
This is a brilliant movie. Dark, stylish and moody, it’s a classic example of film noir. Bogart is excellent as Steele. You’re just not quite sure he’s innocent, maybe he is guilty and it’s a dark movie. A lot of Bogart’s other movies always get the spotlight, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre just to name a few but In a Lonely Place might be one of Bogart’s best.