The Exterminating Angel
There Will Be Love

Please Don't Let Me Love You

inalonelyplace11.png picture by BrandoBardot

Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place is one of the most heartbreaking love stories ever committed to film. It's certainly one of the most poignant pictures (violently poignant at times) within the canon of film noir, a genre haunted by doomed love.

Noir love -- the kind that causes characters to throw that "Baby I don't care" caution to the wind -- is frequently a cynical fancy that won't survive the angst and ugliness inside the man or outside the world. Its happiness is typically intense, but brief. Love or lust often motivates action in noir, particularly via a femme fatale (as in Double Indemnity or Out of the Past). But it also holds up a mirror to myriad themes, largely existential, that hang over characters with profound malaise. Ray approaches the torments of Camus and Sartre with In a Lonely Place (1950) showing, not only the delicacy of true love, but the delicacy of creativity, violence, trust, and a person's own position in an often ugly, alienating world and the inner nausea it creates.

So begins my video essay on Nicholas Ray's 1950 masterpiece In a Lonely Place, a movie I love and admire and one I understand better each each year I live in this often alienating city -- Los Angeles.

inalonelyplace8-1.jpg picture by BrandoBardot

Many thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz for putting this piece together so beautifully. I think I sound like a teenager who smoked about five packs of Pall Malls, but this is the voice God, and many sleepless nights gave me so deal with it. With that, watch this appreciation of Bogart's brilliant performance and one of Ray's finest (as well as one of the greatest Gloria Grahame roles), In a Lonely Place (orignally posted at The L Magazine). Watch.


Editing by Matt Zoller Seitz, words by Kim Morgan, adapted from my essay here.

Comments

maggie may

What an awesome blog you have going on here!

jason t. james

great essay!, its really cool to get to look over movies that have weight to them, kinda tough to watch the modern movies anymore

Joshua W

I also love In A Lonely Place and it's wonderful to see something like this that's obviously so passionate but also professionally done. Great stuff, goes together well with Curtis Hanson's extra on the dvd. Thanks!

Steve-O

I saw a screening of it at NY's Film Forum Friday night and left totally pissed off...

Here's what happened (from a piece I posted at Golden Age of Hollywood)

So why do they laugh?

I went to see one of the best film noirs ever last Friday night - In a Lonely Place - and I left frustrated. They laughed at it. Not everyone... but enough to make me question whether I should even see old movies with others again.

Friday night at the Film Forum in New York City. I drove down from Connecticut stag. The better half couldn't make it but I try to keep her away from Gloria Grahame anyway.

The theater was packed. Susan Ray was in the lobby signing copies of one of Nick Ray's books. I missed her introduction from earlier in the night. She must have been quite a bit younger than Ray when they were married... Philip Kaufman is making a movie of the book.

I entered the theater and was shocked that the theater was so small. Also, nearly every seat was taken. I had no choice but to sit in the back. I was pleasantly surprised to see the excellent turnout for the late screening.

The previews started. A few independent art film trailers. The audio was bad and I couldn't make out the dialog for most of it.

Then the movie started. It's a wonderful new print of the film. The picture is perfect and the audio was crystal clear.

The film begins.

Now, understand In a Lonely Place isn't a piece of camp. Nor is it over the top like seeing Sunset Blvd or Johnny Guitar today. It's a straight drama/mystery. It's adult and isn't corny at all.

Tell that to the audience. Ok... the beginning of the movie is light hearted. The drunk actor and the coat-room girl are funny. I get that people are laughing. They should be. It's funny.

But then the murder happens. Every time the chief-of-police character spoke there were laughs. OK. I understand. Film goers today are used to sophisticated police talk from watching Law and Order and CSI. Some of his dialog was probably dumbed down a bit for audience in the 1950s. At one point he tells Gloria Grahame about the murder. The scene gets huge laughs...

Why is that funny? Is it the “vice-like grip” line the cop spits out? I don't get it.

The movie moves forward.

The man next to me – sporting a shaved head and thick dark-rimmed glasses – would make a “hmph” sound every time he thought something sounded corny. He would break in to laughter whenever Bogie would lose control. When Bogart picks up a rock to beat a man the audience began to howl.

Hilarious, right? The didn't laugh at the “knuckle-headed squirrel” line. They laughed at the “200-dollar paint job” which I understand. It was so much cheaper then. But is that a laugh-out-loud funny? Then Bogie picks up the rock and Gloria screams at him. The audience erupts in laughter. Explain it to me... why? Are we now laughing at the film? The film is a classic by almost anyones definition. If Batman picked up a rock and threatened to smash the Joker's face in would people be roaring during The Dark Knight?

Mercifully, The huge laughs from the audience was over by then. But the guy next to me had me thinking that I should find a big rock and test it on his melon. He was making the “hmph” noise every few minutes now. I wound anticipate a line and wait for him to disapprove of it.

His “hmph”s were getting louder and more frequent. It was like he wanted his wife and everyone around him to know that the movie was way to simple for him.

When Gloria Grahame – with tears in her eyes says “yesterday this would have meant so much to us...” snickers were heard behind me and an audible “hmph” next to me. I'm just about to go Dixon on him.

The the heartbreaker...

Gloria Grahame looks down at her love walking away with tears flowing down her face...

was met with a loud “hmph” beside me mixed in with giggling a row behind.

So these few audience members hated it -- and made sure everyone else in the theater knew. They went to the theater to see an old quaint film and make fun of it. Fine. But do they realize that other people love the film? They're ruining the absolutely heartbreaking ending for me. What about the people that never saw the film before? Did the drama even resonate with them? I think not.

As I left the theater I stopped the man who sat next to me and I asked him, “Did you think it was a comedy?” He looked startled and didn't answer. I went looking for a rock on the side of the road while he took off quickly.

Andy

Kim, I haven’t seen this film for years. You really make me want to see it again!

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