In a Lonely Place ★★★★

"Oh, I didn't say I was a gentleman, I said I was tired."

With a terrific starring performance from Humphrey Bogart and a deliciously killer script, Nicholas Ray's film noir 'In A Lonely Place' showcases the enigmatic Dixon Steele, a Hollywood screenwriter with anger issues and a penchant for reacting first and apologizing later. After he's accused of the murder of a woman he was seen with the night prior, he floats in and out of his duty to a new script and his romantic interest in his next door neighbor, Laurel Gray, an actress, who helped clear his name, to some degree, on the night in question.

The film's mood is akin to a rollercoaster, brilliantly so, from moments of beauty, like the incredible shots of Steele and Gray gathered around the piano, being serenaded by Hadda Brooks, to moments of dark, supercharged intensity, such as Steele's committed replaying of the murder or even the iconic, frightening night drive. The masterful nature of the script, both biting and slowly revealing in its dialogue while also keeping its mysteries tucked away until the closing moments, helps introduce already established relationships, both professional and personal, while offering up some light uncertainty as to who Bogart's Dixon really is: is he a simple yet talented writer with the occasional emotional, physical outburst, or is he actually a murderer?

My knowledge and experience with the filmographies of Ray and Bogart may not be as extensive as I'd like, but it's tough to deny a classic hit once you've seen it, and this is certifiably one. It's a bit muddled for me in a few spots, with certain subplots yanking the spotlight away from the main mystery, but it does help to further set up other characters and alliances, so it's not all bad. When it's on, this film is damn good, all the way up to the polarizing, moody finale that's surely not for everyone, though I admire it's darkness. This is proper filmmaking.