In a Lonely Place  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In a Lonely Place is a 1950 American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, produced for Bogart's Santana Productions. The script was written by Andrew P. Solt from Edmund H. North's adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes' 1947 novel of the same name.


Dixon "Dix" Steele is a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter who has not had a successful movie since before World War II. While driving to meet his agent, Mel Lippman, Steele's explosive temper is revealed when, at a stoplight, he engages with another motorist in a confrontation that almost becomes violent. Meeting with Lippman at a nightclub, Steele is cajoled into adapting a book for a movie. The hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson, is engrossed in reading the copy meant for Steele; since she only has a few pages left to go, she asks to be allowed to finish it. Steele claims to be too tired to read the novel, so he asks Mildred to go home with him to explain the plot. As they enter the courtyard of his apartment, they pass a new tenant, Laurel Gray. Mildred describes the story, confirming what Steele had suspected—the book is no good. Rather than drive her home as promised, he gives her cab fare instead.

The next morning, Steele is awakened by a police detective named Brub Nicolai, who served under Steele during the war. Nicolai takes him downtown to be questioned by his superior, who reveals that Mildred was murdered, and Steele is a suspect. When he gets home, Steele checks up on Gray. He finds she is an aspiring actress with only a few low-budget films to her credit. They begin to fall in love and, with Gray assisting him, Steele enthusiastically goes back to work, much to Lippman's delight.

At a dinner with Nicolai and his wife, Steele has them re-enact the murder; his odd behavior leads Nicolai's wife Sylvia to doubt Steele's innocence. Lochner sows seeds of doubt in Gray's mind, pointing out Steele's long record of violent behavior. At a nightclub, Steele spots Ted Barton, another detective, arrive with a female companion and grows irritated, believing that Barton is tailing him. Later, at Steele's apartment, Gray's masseuse Martha warns her about Steele's checkered romantic past, and Gray grows irritated, kicking her out of the apartment. At a beach party with the Nicolais, Sylvia inadvertently reveals Gray's secret meeting with Lochner, causing Steele to become furious as he storms away from the beach. Steele leaves the beach with Gray and drives erratically until they sideswipe another car. Nobody is hurt, but when the other driver accosts him, Steele beats him unconscious and is about to strike him with a large rock when Gray stops him.

Steele goes to the police station and attempts to clear his name, meeting Atkinson's boyfriend Harry Kesler, who works at a bank. Steele remarks to Nicolai that Kesler is a better suspect. At the Nicolai residence, Gray asks Sylvia about the night where they were made to re-enact the murder, revealing Steele's roadside assault. Eventually, Gray's doubts about Steele's innocence result in her being unable to sleep without taking pills. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, but only because she is too scared of what he might do if she refused. Lippman comes over to celebrate while Steele is away, only to find out that Gray does not want to go through with the marriage and is making plans to escape to New York. At a dinner to celebrate the engagement, Frances Randolph, an actress whom Steele previously dated, joins and reveals that Steele's script has been leaked by Lippman. Steele then takes a call meant for Gray at the table, discovering it is Martha and slugging Lippman when he tries to intervene.

Back at the apartment, Steele flies into a rage. After briefly calming down, Steele answers the phone, learning of Gray's flight cancellation. He again becomes violent, almost strangling her before he regains control of himself. The phone rings again. Nicolai reveals that Kesler confessed and attempted suicide. It is too late, however, to salvage Steele and Gray's relationship.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "In a Lonely Place" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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