Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Director: Nicholas Ray
Running Time: 94 mins
In A Lonely Place is an American film about a Hollywood screenwriter who is cleared of a murder on evidence from his neighbour, however she begins to have her suspects that he may truly be guilty.
A cagey Hollywood mystery featuring an entertainingly shady performance from Humphrey Bogart and some intriguing twists throughout, In A Lonely Place is a captivating watch for the most part, although it fails to deliver genuinely exhilarating thrills as a result of a story that’s never 100% convincing.
Let’s start with the positives first, mainly with the film’s atmosphere. It’s not quite a shady film-noir, but nor is it a Hitchcockian psycho-thriller. Instead, it sits rather nicely in between the two ends of the classic Hollywood thriller spectrum, something that’s achieved well by director Nicholas Ray.
In A Lonely Place isn’t meant to be a non-stop rollercoaster of thrills and spills, but rather a cleverly-plotted mystery that builds to a crescendo. I’ll get into why it doesn’t quite manage that in a second, but I really appreciated the way in which the film went about crafting an air of shady, cagey mystery and intrigue.
Another way in which the film proves so intriguing is on account of its performances. In the lead role, Humphrey Bogart is great as a charismatic but clearly flawed screenwriter with a lust for violence and anger. The whole film revolves around the potential mistaken approach of the police investigation for drawing a line between his personality and the murder of a girl, but Bogart plays the role to perfection in endearing himself to you as well as making himself out to be a possible killer.
Meanwhile, Gloria Grahame is great alongside Bogart as a strong-willed yet seemingly devoted love interest. At her best, Grahame is just as charismatic (if not more so) than Bogart, and that makes her a great counterpart to him as the story unfolds.
Where In A Lonely Place falls down, however, is in the fact that its story doesn’t manage to make its own underlying drama fully convincing. Much of the tension and confusion at hand is meant to come from Grahame’s character, desperately in love with Bogart but unsure of whether he is a killer or not.
Unfortunately, the way she falls in love with him so quickly and seemingly out of nothing really undermines the intensity of emotion that you expect her to feel for him, something which has a knock on effect through the film that makes it a whole lot less emotionally captivating as it could have been.
Sure, there’s intrigue in its various twists and turns, but the relative lack of convincing narrative depth means this is never the intoxicating mystery that it’s meant to be. While stronger in other regards, the film pales in comparison to the exhilarating likes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, which uses deep emotion to really hook you as it builds to an amazing finale.
And the finale here isn’t all that amazing. While certainly a surprise and deliberately made to subvert your expectations, In A Lonely Place seems to go too far, finishing on subversion to the point that it feels out of place after the 90 minutes of film you’ve seen before, making for a moderately disappointing end to the film.
Overall, I did like In A Lonely Place, but not nearly enough as I wanted to. While it’s intriguing, mysterious, atmospheric and occasionally thrilling, the film fails to use emotional depth to make its story fully convincing, meaning that strong performances from Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame aren’t enough to make it a truly enthralling watch. So, that’s why I’m giving In A Lonely Place a 7.5.