The Best of Film Noir – In A Lonely Place

As many of my blog readers know, the main character in my Reed Ferguson mystery series loves film noir and Humphrey Bogart.  But many people don’t know a lot about film noir, or what great movies are a part of this genre.  So let’s introduce another film noir classic, In A Lonely Place.  This movie has it all, the dark themes, the noir hero, and the sultry film noir female.

Best of Film Noir – The Noir Hero

How can you miss with Humphrey Bogart in the lead role?  This guy flat-out embodies the noir hero.  Bogart stars as a cynical (of course – how can the noir hero not be cynical) screenwriter, Dixon Steele, who is suspected of murder.  The plot itself is pretty basic from there.  Bogart is seen with a pretty girl who ends up murdered, and throughout the film, he acts as if he might have killed the girl.  But did he?  Humphrey is at once a drunken down-on-his-luck noir hero, a bundle of fury lashing out at whoever gets in his way, a prideful screenwriter, and a romantic with designs for his beautiful neighbor.  What is striking about this is that some consider this role the closet to what Humphrey Bogart was like in real life, with his struggles with alcohol, his selfishness and his pride in his artistic profession.

Best of Film Noir – The Film Noir Female

Of course we have to have the film noir female.  In this movie, it’s Gloria Grahame.  She may not be a household name, but she won an Academy Award for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).  Grahame plays Bogart’s neighbor, Laurel Gray (I wonder if that was an intentional pun as film noir movies are dark and gray), and she falls in love with Bogart.  To be more accurate, she falls under his spell.  But the suspicions placed on Bogart puts their relationship in jeopardy.  Lauren Bacall and Ginger Rogers were also considered for this role.  But Nicholas Ray, who directed the film, was married to Grahame, believed she would be best for the role.  And he was right, as many consider this to be one of Grahame’s finest performances.

Best of Film Noir – The Novel Behind The Movie

At the time of its release, In A Lonely Place received a mostly positive reception.  However, the fact that the film had a dark ending hindered its box-office receipts.  But over time, the movie has garnered the reputation of being one of the film noir genre’s best.  The movie is based on a novel by the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes.  But the film and the book are different, mainly in the treatment of the main character (Dix Steele).  What I think is cool is that the novel is considered a great example of noir writing from the post World War II era, and it’s one of the few examples of noir writing by a woman (hmm, will I be lucky enough to be in that category someday :) )

Best of Film Noir – The Writing

For those of you who are authors, take a look at some of the dialogue.  These writers knew how to do it right, with plenty of oomph in just a few sentences.

Dixon quotes dialog from his new script to Laurel: I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.

And another great quote:

Dixon: How can anybody like a face like this, look at it.

He then attempts to kiss Laurel, but she moves away from him.

Laurel: I said I liked it, I didn’t say I wanted to kiss it.

That’s dialogue that sticks with you.  Both the movie and the book are great examples of quality plot lines, with plenty of twists and turns.  So grab your popcorn, your soda, get comfortable, and enjoy a classic example of film noir at its best.

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About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Film Noir Fun and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Best of Film Noir – In A Lonely Place

  1. Linda Henderson says:

    I know absolutely nothing about film noir so this post was helpful to me. I have watched a couple of old Humphrey Bogart movies but haven’t seen In A Lonely Place. I wonder if La Femme Nikita would be considered tv noir, it has a dark and sinister feel to it.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  2. teressa oliver says:

    I think the whole thing of women falling for bad men was way over done. I would like see the reversal of this where the woman is the drunk hero. That would probably go over even less in Hollywood. I am part of the Holiday Blog Hop
    teressaoliver at gmail dot com

  3. Shadow says:

    Ive never heard of this. Im not much of a movie person. I like books and absorb myself in them. ;) This movie sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Krysykat says:

    I like ‘In a Lonely Place’ but I love ‘Dead Reckoning’ :)
    I’m entering for the Holiday Blog Hop.

    Morganlafey86(at)aol(dot)com

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Thanks for hopping by and you are entered into the contest. I’ll have to check out Dead Reckoning, haven’t see it yet.

  5. Pamela Jo says:

    Who could blame Laurel for falling for Bogey. I like pretty much everything he is in. I don’t remember seeing this one though. Thanks for the movie to add to my must see list.
    Oh and I am hopping by on the Holiday Blog Hop.

    Pamela Jo

  6. I love film noir, and In a Lonely Place is one of my absolute favourites. I’m a big fan of Bogart as well, so it’s the best of both worlds.

    I recently read the book, and I can see why they changed so much. I don’t think the movie-going public would have liked the film if it had followed the book religiously.

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