Monday, December 17, 2007

In a Lonely Place

In a Dangerous Zone: 1

Opening lines:

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!"

She huffs/puffs.

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.

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


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."

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


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."

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


Dix to the waiter:

"There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality."


In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


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?"

Laurel: "No."

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."

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


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.

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


Bogart: in a zone of death.

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:

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!"


"Average!": An Origin of American '50s:

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:

Strangers on a Train by Alfred Hitchcock, 1951:

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:


In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950:

"I was born when she kissed me.

"I died when she left me.

"I lived a few weeks while she loved me."



  1. Nick Ray's daughter is writing a book about her father (though she scarcely knew him) and interviewed me at length last week.

  2. Fantastic. I'm glad she's going to good sources.

    And if she needs/would like a copy of MoC's The Savage Innocents (now out of print) — you know where to reach me. It's the film her father needed to make, just as much as In a Lonely Place, just as much as Rebel Without a Cause.

    Bitter Victory (uncut) is also one of the key Nick Ray films, maybe the ultimate Nick Ray film, — in any case, the secret initiation of Stanley Kubrick.

  3. IN A LONELY PLACE was named by the Library of Congress as among 25 films to be preserved in the National Film Registry for 2007.


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