In a Lonely Place
Rating: 9 The corner of Sunset and Lonely. March 13, 2012
1950 was the year Hollywood set mercy aside and spun the camera onto itself. Silent stars had aged from fashion (and professional viability), while the booming L.A. film business, once the creative lab space of a new art form, had in a little less than half a century mutated into a bona fide industry--replete with dirt, disloyalty and Machiavellian can-do. But if Billy Wilder's Hollywood was itself an imagination-eating machine (in 'Sunset Boulevard' of the same year) it was in Nicholas Ray's town that the players were the monsters--creating and destroying in inseparable acts. Humphrey Bogart, in a vicious turn as Dix Steele, a gifted yet ill-tempered screenwriter was pushed-- rewardingly, to the limits of his charm and talent. He was as sympathetically desperate as he was when he rolled out of the desert in 'The Petrified Forest' (1936), and as sharp-tongued as he was in 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941). But time catches up. Ray's movie (as much as Bogart's Steele) exposed a survivor's story in which effortlessness often comes at the expense of others' silent efforts. There are fantastic segues in this movie between melodrama, crime thriller, romance and satire. An ideal jumping-off point for Hollywood in the 1950's!