In a Lonely Place
A haunting work of stark confessionalism disguised as a taut noir thriller, In a Lonely Place -- Nicholas Ray's bleak, desperate tale of fear and self-loathing in Hollywood -- remains one of the filmmaker's greatest and most deeply resonant features. It stars Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele, a fading screenwriter suffering from creative burnout; hired to adapt a best-selling novel, instead of reading the book itself he asks the hat-check girl (Martha Stewart) at his favorite nightclub to simply tell him the plot. The morning after, the girl is found brutally murdered, and Steele is the police's prime suspect; however, the would-be starlet across the way, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), provides him with a solid alibi, and they soon begin a romance in spite of Gray's lingering concerns that the troubled, violent Steele might just be a killer after all. During production, Ray's real-life marriage to co-star Grahame began to crumble, and his own vulnerability and disillusionment clearly inform the picture; the brooding, bitter Steele -- a role ideally suited to Bogart's wounded romanticism -- is plainly a doppelganger for Ray himself (the site of his first Hollywood apartment is even employed as the set for Steele's home), and the film's unflinching examination of the character's disintegration makes for uniquely compelling viewing.