Friday, March 25, 2011

Links: In a Lonely Place

Bosley Crowther reviewed In a Lonely Place in the Times back in May of 1950, after spending quite a few inches on Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun, naturally enough.  He liked it though, taking particular note of Humphrey Bogart's performance:

"Everybody should be happy this morning. Humphrey Bogart is in top form in his latest independently made production, "In a Lonely Place," and the picture itself is a superior cut of melodrama. Playing a violent, quick-tempered Hollywood movie writer suspected of murder, Mr. Bogart looms large on the screen of the Paramount Theatre and he moves flawlessly through a script which is almost as flinty as the actor himself."

Keith Uhlich, however, sees more of director Nicholas Ray in the film in a short review for Time Out New York:

"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."

Dave Kehr, in his capsule for the Chicago Reader, agrees:

"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."

Finally, J. Hoberman in the Village Voice sees the film as deeply personal for both the actor and director:

"Dix had traits in common with the volatile, hard-drinking Bogart, a proud man who'd been publicly humiliated after the Congressional hearings—attacked by the press for initially defending the Hollywood 10 and compelled to publish an admission that he had been a Communist dupe. For Ray, Bogart was "much more than an actor." He was a symbol, "the very image of our condition [whose] face was a living reproach." An ex-Communist who was never persecuted, and must have wondered why, Ray saw himself in Dix as well. He cast his soon-to-be-estranged wife, Gloria Grahame, in the role that might naturally have gone to (and even seems written for) Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall. Ray used his own first Hollywood apartment as the tormented writer's lair and, after splitting with Grahame, began living on the set."

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