Bogart as screenwriter Dixon Steele in his convertible, red light, Los Angeles. Car pulls up alongside. Beautiful presumably-platinum-blonde-in-a-beret, hunched in the passenger seat of another convertible, this one driven by a putz.
"Dix Steele! How are you? Don't'chu remember me?"
"No, I'm sorry, I can't say that I do."
"Well you wrote the last picture I did — at Columbia."
"Well, I make it a point never to see pictures I write."
The woman's doughy-cheeked driver — her man — butts in:
"You — stop bothering my wife!"
Dix: "Oh. You should'n'a done it, honey. No matter how much money that pig's got."
The dough-cheeked pig lover: "You pull over't'the curb!"
Dix: "' 'Ey what's wrong with right here — ?"
The doughy-cheeked pig lover speeds off as Bogart opens his car door split-second ready-like.
Dix's agent, to the girl at the coat-check:
"Honey let me have that book I left you for Mr. Steele to pick up will ya."
Coat-check girl, nearly through with the four- to five-hundred page hardcover:
"Oh, I'm almost finished with it..."
Agent, turning to Dix: "All you've got to say is 'I like it,' and you go on salary tomorrow...!"
Dix: "Then I like it."
Dix's agent to Dix, after Dix attacks the snot-snouted producer who insults his soused "thespian" pal:
"You will read that book tonight?"
"Yes yes yes."
"Well I'll drop by, and wake you up in the morning, around 10."
"Make it about 11."
Dix to the waiter:
"There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality."
Chop out the cuts-on-motion.
Continuity flows from sound, and silence; not cuts.
The cops make a show at the place. One of them, Brub, played by Frank Lovejoy, resembles Joe Swanberg.
Gloria Grahame, Laurel Gray, walks in indignant —
Captain: "Considering that you've never met Mr. Steele, you've paid quite a bit of attention to him."
Laurel: "Mm-hm. I have at that."
Captain: "Do you usually give such attention to your neighbors?"
Captain: "Were you interested in Mr. Steele because he's a celebrity?"
Laurel: "No, not at all. I noticed him because he looked interesting. I like his face."
Ray's close-ups have got no frippery. They're powerful and dislocating. One moment, Bogart lurches forward, mummification setting in already, processes of immortality underway. In another, Grahame, bisexual Nick Ray's then-wife, is synergized with an electrical switch.
Bogart: in a zone of death.
Some of my friends live in the same place; maybe it's not Beverly Hills, but it's the same place, it's Silverlake, it's Los Feliz, West Hollywood. The rooms are a mess, the Merry Maids exist but never show up. Ever since my first drive up Mulholland — a visit to the house of the man then known as Terence Trent D'Arby — a real sarcophagus on display at the bottom of a staircase on floor one — then looking out through the amateur telescope set up on the third-floor patio, open-air, in small pastiche of Babylon's gardens... focusing on Hollywood's night-twinkles, fallen stars — — I knew that land was a zone of death.
In 1950, Nicholas Ray films his third film about being Nicholas Ray.
"Well, what do you think?"
"Well, I'm glad you're not a genius. He's a sick man, Brub."
"No, he isn't!"
"There's something wrong with him."
"He's always been like that, he's an exciting guy!"
"Look when I took Abnormal Psychology — "
"Every time we disagree you throw that college stuff in my face. I didn't go to college but I know Dix better than you do; there's nothing the matter with his mind, except that it's superior!"
"Well he's exciting because he isn't quite normal!"
"Maybe us cops could use some of that brand of abnormality. I learned more about this case in five minutes from him than I did from all the photographs, tire-prints, and investigations — "
"All right, but I still like the way you are! — Attractive, and average!"
"I was born when she kissed me.
"I died when she left me.
"I lived a few weeks while she loved me."