In a Lonely Place

This bitter, tender, and devastating film stars Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele, a less-than-successful screenwriter whose violent contempt has many targets: industry “popcorn salesmen,” the movie-going public, his enemies, his friends, his lovers. (“Do you look down on all women or just the ones you know?” an ex-girlfriend asks.) When a hatcheck girl is murdered, Dix's cynical attitude and penchant for brawling make him a prime suspect; his neighbor Laurel (Gloria Grahame, whose real-life marriage to Nicholas Ray was falling apart while the film was being made) provides an alibi, an inauspicious beginning to an ill-fated romance. In Dorothy Hughes's novel and the original version of the script, Dix was in fact a murderer; in the final film he is “only” a troubled man. The difference makes the film infinitely more moving, and yet in the end, as Laurel says with knowing sadness, it doesn't matter at all.
—Juliet Clark

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