Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame find themselves “In a Lonely Place”

In a Lonely Place (1950) is an American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Graham. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes published in 1947. The cinematography was by Burnett Guffefy who won Academy Awards for From Here to Eternity (1953) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Bogart stars as Dixon Steele a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter. He’s prone to violence and his troubled past behavior makes him a prime suspect in the murder of Mildred Atkinson, a young hat-check girl. Dix is considering adapting a novel into a screenplay but rather than read the novel, he let Mildred read it at his home and give him a plot summary. After that, Dix escorts Mildred out of his apartment and is witnessed by new neighbor Laurel Gray (Graham) and she gives this information to the police investigating the crime. Dix and Laurel are attracted to each other and begin a relationship. 

As the investigation into Mildred’s murder intensifies, Dix’s behavior becomes erratic, and Laurel begins to suspect that he might not be as innocent as he claims.  

Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart

Nicholas Ray (1911 – 1979) was an American film director. Some of his best-known films include They Live By Night (1948), In A Lonely Place (1950), Johnny Guitar (1954), and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). His films influenced directors Joseph H. Lewis, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, and Robert Altman. Later in his career, he directed the big screen epics King of Kings (1961) and 55 Days at Peking (1963) starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven.  

Humphrey Bogart (1899 – 1957) was an American film and stage actor. He is one of the most famous and popular movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Nicknamed Bogie, the actor toiled in supporting roles in both A and B pictures for a decade before his breakout role as Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941). Many more film roles followed including The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Key Largo (1948), and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). His career continued with good roles in films like In a Lonely Place (1950), The Caine Mutiny (1954), and Sabrina (1954) co-starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Bogart died from cancer in 1957.  

Gloria Grahame (1923 – 1981) was an American actress. She began her career on the stage and then went to Hollywood in 1944 where she was under contract to M-G-M. At M-G-M, they didn’t seem to know what to do with Grahame. She was loaned out to play Violet Bick in It’s a Wonderful Life, earning good notices but M-G-M decided to sell her contract to RKO. She played minor and secondary roles in several film noirs, but her career didn’t gain any traction at that studio as well. She had good roles in Sudden Fear (1952) and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Grahame’s performance in that film lasted just over nine minutes. She was the Elephant Girl, performing her own stunts, in Cecil B. De Mille’s The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Other films include Not as a Stranger (1955) and Oklahoma! where she played Ado Annie, a change of pace from her typical femme fatale roles. Grahame died of cancer at the age of 57.


In a Lonely Place trivia

  • Gloria Grahame and Nicholas Ray were going through a divorce during filming.
  • Lauren Bacall and Ginger Rogers were considered for the role of Laurel Gray. Warner Bros. wouldn’t load Bacall to Columbia. The producer wanted Rogers but Ray thought his then-wife would be ideal in the part.
  • Not a big commercial success at the time of its release, the film’s reputation has grown over the years.
  • Many consider this one of Bogart’s best performances.


Click HERE to watch the film on YouTube.



Click HERE to join the discussion on March 4, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation via email with a link to the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. The film is supposed to be a cynical take on Hollywood. What are some of the cynical or negative aspects of the film?
  2. How did the lighting and cinematography add to the film? Did it enhance the film’s narrative?
  3. Does In a Lonely Place qualify as a film noir? How?
  4. Both Bogart and Grahame were praised for their performances. Would you add your praise to the critics?
  5. Does the film remind you of any other films released in 1950?


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