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 in 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 (I've written about it here) and admire and one I understand better each each year I live in this often alienating city: Los Angeles.
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 (originally posted at the L Magazine, kicking off the Ray Retrospective at Film Forum from Friday the 17th to Thursday the 23rd). Watch.
Editing by Matt Zoller Seitz, words by Kim Morgan, adapted from my essay here.