“I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”
In A Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray’s gripping drama, is one of my all-time favorite noirs and perhaps my favorite Humphrey Bogart film. In her essay “Humphrey and Bogey,” Louise Brooks comments that the actor’s performance as Dixon Steele, a deeply conflicted Hollywood screenwriter accused of murder, is the role that came closest to capturing the Bogart she knew. Indeed, there is something unique about his work here. The edge and menace are there, as always, but in a constant battle with his vulnerability. Unlike many of Bogarts iconic screen performances, Dixon Steele seems to inhabit the same world we still live in, and the result is still powerful to contemporary audiences.
Most lists and polls consistently place Bogart in the top-10 all-time movie stars—even five decades after his death. In A Lonely Place exemplifies the complex combination of qualities that has made Bogart such an enduring presence.