Superb film noir, brilliantly directed by the gifted Ray with Bogart as a talented but volatile Hollywood screenwriter.
Because of his heavy drinking and truculent nature, Bogart is not much in demand among the film studios but his dogged, devoted agent, Smith, manages to get him a writing assignment, to adapt a celebrated romance novel for the screen. They meet in a Hollywood bar-restaurant (a thinly disguised
Chasen's) where Bogart argues with Ankrum, the director of the proposed film, accusing him of making the same film over and over again. His one friend in the bar is a broken down actor, Warwick, and when a strutting, bragging producer, Howard (perhaps modeled on Carl Laemmle, Jr.), insults the
actor, Bogart knocks Howard about and has to be restrained. Smith urges him to go home and read the novel he must adapt, but Bogart knows it's a potboiler and is reluctant. Then the hatcheck girl at the club, Stewart, who has read and loves the novel, offers to tell Bogart the tale. He takes her
home to his bungalow (in a complex that smacks of the famous Garden of Allah, owned and operated by Ali Nazimova, a haven for actors and writers such as Robert Benchley and F. Scott Fitzgerald). Watching Bogart and Stewart enter the bungalow from across the courtyard is lovely Grahame, a new
neighbor. As Stewart rattles on about the story, Bogart slips into his bathrobe, pours himself a drink, and tries to calm Stewart down when she begins histrionically enacting scenes from the novel, which brings Grahame to her upstairs window again to watch the couple through open windows. Finally,
Bogart has had enough. He's tired, he explains. He gives Stewart cab fare and sends her home. The next day, Stewart's viciously disfigured body is found and Bogart, thought to be the last person to see her alive, is brought in for questioning by the police.
LONELY PLACE epitomizes star-crossed lovers incapable of escaping environment and circumstances no matter how hard they try. The entire cast is excellent, with Bogart giving an electrifying portrait of a man in torment. Grahame, never more beautiful, is captivating as a woman who has been kept too
many times and now has one last chance for real love. Ray's helmsmanship here is superb as he runs the story to a quick conclusion, dwelling upon loving and frightening scenes with the skilled balance of a master juggler, keeping the viewer doubting and believing in Bogart from scene to scene.
Many thought the film's central relationship reflected on Ray's unraveling marriage to Grahame. They split when filming was over, and the offbeat Grahame went on to marry Ray's son by a previous marriage, causing shock-waves in the 50s fanzines.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Superb film noir, brilliantly directed by the gifted Ray with Bogart as a talented but volatile Hollywood screenwriter. Because of his heavy drinking and truculent nature, Bogart is not much in demand among the film studios but his dogged, devoted agent,… (more)