The Madman; The Murderer; The Mistress… In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place (1950)

“I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”

Humphrey Bogart is brilliantly cast in the pretty unheroic role of a scriptwriter with a mighty violent temper. When a young woman he is seen with is discovered murdered only hours afterwards, Dixon Steele (Bogart) becomes the chief suspect in a murder case. His alibi, however, comes in the form of a beautiful blonde (played by Gloria Grahame) who, once they start playing house together and she gets to know him a little better, begins having doubts about his innocence… (There’s nothing quite like seeing your lover nearly beat someone to death to make you wonder if he’s quite the man of your dreams.)

 An unusual film, Nicholas Ray’s noir masterpiece plays beautifully with the joys of new love whilst simultaneously undermining it with suspicion and doubt (it may be interesting to note that Ray’s marriage to his lead actress, Gloria Grahame, was unraveling and the couple split whilst shooting was in progress. Also, more intriguingly – and worryingly, Louise Brooks in her book Lulu in Hollywood, describes Bogart’s role in this film to be the closest to his true character…)

The film is laden with clues and suggestions that lead you astray as well as an unexpected – and initially unscripted – ending. With its character driven storyline that strips the players’ emotions bare, it isn’t hard to see why In a Lonely Place is considered by many to be one of the finest noirs ever made.


Gloria Grahame – a very bad girl…

posted by Dixie Turner

Video City A-Z of Film – Staff Picks: A is for… (Pt.3)


A is for Amadeus (1984) – Directed by Milos Forman

 Mozart, but not as you’d expect.


The film centres on a retelling of Mozart’s time in Vienna by his contemporary Antonio Salieri. An accomplished yet restricted composer, the film investigates (a highly fictionalised version of) his struggle with glaring exposure to Mozart’s genius in all its fantastic and boorish reality.

Highly entertaining, the film does for Mozart what Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet  did for Shakespeare, without being so irritatingly wet. Having said that, Tom Hulce’s laugh will be ringing in your ears for days.


A is for The African Queen (1951) – Directed by John Huston

The African Queen has everything. Directed by cinema-behemoth John Huston (Asphalt Jungle, The Misfits) it stars the perfectly matched odd couple, rough and ready Humphrey Bogart and the potently prissy Katharine Hepburn. The plot revolves around Rose Sayer (Hepburn), a christian missionary, having to make a difficult river journey through German occupied east Africa with only small boat captain Charlie Allnut (Bogart) for company. This film has laughs, tears, romance, high adventure, and some of the most brilliant cast chemistry you could hope to see in film.

An interview with Anjelica Huston, talking about the shooting of The African Queen:




A is for The Apple (1998) – Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf

This semi-documentary – Samira Makhmalbaf’s first film, made when she was only 17 – tells the true story of a pair of 11 year-old twin sisters who have been kept imprisoned for years by their impoverished father and blind mother.

When concerned neighbours write-up a petition and send it to social services, the family are summoned and the girls examined; whilst the twins are physically healthy, they are severely mentally impaired due, it would seem, to their totally lack of social interaction. The father is ordered to release the girls, to which he protests that he keeps them locked up for their own good: whilst he is away at work, local boys climb over his walls – he is trying to protect the honour of his girls.

As the girls are set free, in turn imprisoning their father in the cell in which they were once kept, they roam the city, encountering strangers and making friends for the first time.

The apple, a symbol of consciousness and social knowledge, is a motif that crops up throughout the film, whether it be as the girls’ most favoured treat, which at one point, having dropped, one of them grasps to reach from between the bars, or as in the last scene when, her husband locked away and her daughters who knows where, the blind mother leaves the home herself, perhaps for the first time in years, and encounters a schoolboy’s prank – an apple that he is dangled out of a window by a string. At first she merely bumps into it, unsure what it is, she grasps for it and eventually catches it, clasping the apple in her hand.

It is hard not to read the film as a clever  metaphor for the position of women in Iranian society (clever, because, such public dissent must be formed cautiously), a metaphor in which women are prisoners of the socio-political order that is the Islamic republic. The film indicates (as does Makhmalbaf’s later film, At Five in the Afternoon) that only through the liberation of their consciousness will women be able to stand up against the beatings inflicted to their bodies and minds by the iron arm of tradition.

The Apple, like Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up, weaves a poetic story in which it is unclear which parts are fact and which fiction. In both cases, this bittersweet disorientation is heighten by the use, not only of non-professional actors, but of the actual people involved in the true story playing themselves. Their lives are, quite literally, being played out before our eyes, giving the viewer not only an extraordinary sense of privilege, but also of discomfort in the face of the conflict between the consciousness of our privilege, our guilt in the face of this privilege and of the poignancy of the story which, ultimately, moves us to enjoyment.

Interview with Samira Makhmalbaf on her film At Five in the Afternoon:


Interview on her film Blackboards:

I Should Never Have Swiched from Scotch to Martinis: Humphrey Bogart – Last Words.

So, who would’ve thought that Bogie, that dressed-up dude with a Borsalino hat slung low down, just enough to cover one eye and make you wonder what it’s hiding, who would’ve thought the dame-saver who shot wise-cracks just as fast as he shot guns would’ve been such a funny guy? Even as he lay there on the crumpled bed, dying, the faint aroma of scotch – or was it martini – lingering in the room; not even his wife, not even the great whistle-blower herself, Lauren Bacall, could wrench the cigarette from his lips or the bottle from his mind. So, in the words of someone – I forget who, but what does it matter – here’s looking at you, kid.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Considered by some as one of the greatest films ever made, and also as the first true film noir, The Maltese Falcon has all the fantastic, pacy banter, the femme fatale (Mary Astor), the quick-thinking detective (Bogie) and the shady characters (the terrific Peter Lorre) which define its genre. Watch it or miss out.

The Big Sleep (1946)

A prime example of film noir, Howard Hawk’s directed this, the first adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s great crime novel (it was later re-made in 1978 with a fantastically aging Robert Mitchum playing the famous Philip Marlowe character.) Watch the Bogie and Bacall phenomenon as they smoulder on-screen.

Casablanca (1942)

Love and virtue wrestled it out in this Michael Curtiz directed picture. This was a much-troubled shoot, with writing and directing issues that meant the actors often didn’t know which lines were going to be handed to them the next day. Apparently the famous last line of “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” was written after shooting had been completed, meaning Bogie had to do some dubbing work a month or so later…

The African Queen (1951)

Fantastic production by John Huston, shot largely on location in Uganda and the Congo. A missionary worker and a small steamboat owner are thrust together by the outbreak of World War I when German soldiers begin laying siege to British missions. Drama, adventure, romance and comedy. Brilliant. And particularly funny for some reason when you watch it at the BFI. Presumably it’s all the nerds who get the gentle ‘in’ jokes. Which is why we’re swatting up, now…

****Bogie Box Set Available to Buy In Store****

Box Set includes: Casablanca, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Maltese Falcon, High Sierra

posted by Dixie Turner