Pulp Fiction Thursday: In A Lonely Place

Before his breakthrough as a movie star, Humphrey Bogart played many creeps. His creep count went down dramatically after playing Rick in Casablanca. In A Lonely Place was Bogart’s triumphant return to creepdom.

1950 was a vintage year for films about films. Instead of celebrating glitz and glamor, Sunset Boulevard and In A Lonely Place get down to the nitty gritty about life in post-war Hollywood. Both pictures feature a mentally ill protagonist whose illness was inflamed by failure. Bogart played a writer on the outs with the studio system because of arrogance and a violent temper. He’s not an evil man, he just did bad things.

For a brief moment, Gloria Grahame makes Bogart a better man but his paranoid possessiveness gets the best of him. He was under investigation for a murder he didn’t commit. It put mayhem on the stars’ mind.

Whereas Sunset Boulevard’s ending is definitive, In A Lonely Place’s ending is ambiguous and haunting. We want the glorious Gloria to redeem the man she loves, but it’s a lost cause unless he has his head shrunk. That’s the technical term, right? It’s not? Fuck it.

Agents in the movies are usually brash and mouthy assholes. Art Smith plays Bogie’s agent as a sweetheart who cares enough about his client to take his shit. Giving people shit was Dixon Steele’s jam.

The movie was directed by Nicholas Ray who had his hand in every aspect of the movie unlike most Hollywood directors of his era. The auteur theory was usually off base but Ray, at his best, passed the Godard-Truffaut test. Was it an essay or multiple-choice test? Beats the hell outta me.

In A Lonely Place was based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes.

This cover depicts a fleeing brunette instead of a fleeing blond. I’m glad Gloria was cast: she was superb as was Bogart. It’s one of his finest performances. He was good at playing a creep.

Grading Time: It’s a bona fide classic that was underrated for decades. I give In A Lonely Place 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A.

It’s time to go poster on you. We begin with the quad poster this time.

If there’s such a thing as lounge lizards, there should be lobby lizards. Now that I’m done being a card, let’s all go to the lobby.

The first lobby card captures Bogart’s character in all his creepy glory.

It’s trailer time.

Anyone surprised that In A Lonely Place turned up on Noir Alley in its early days on TCM? I would hope not.

Finally, In A Lonely Place inspired a Smithereens song complete with lyrics that alluded to dialogue in the movie. This video could be described as MTV noir:

 

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