(1950, dir. Ncholas Ray)
Masterful film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Bogart plays Dixon Steele, an alcoholic screenwriter who’s fallen on lean times. When a young production assistant turns up murdered, the police suspect that Steele’s their man. Unfortunately for him, he’s got such a history of bad behavior that even his friends aren’t sure he’s innocent.
Meanwhile, he finds a bit of happiness with Laurel, a police witness who “likes his face.” They begin building a life together, but as the investigation grows more intense, Steele’s personal demons manifest, threatening to bring it all crashing down.
This is a brilliant little flick with a gut-punch of an ending. I love, love, love the snappy dialogue in these noir movies, and nobody delivers it like Bogie. He’s so doggone sexy and looks amazing in a rumpled suit.
(“Why didn’t you call her a cab? Isn’t that what a gentleman usually does?” “Oh, I didn’t say I was a gentleman. I said I was tired.”)
Gloria Grahame stands toe-to-toe with Bogart in every scene. She’s tough and vulnerable all at once, which is quite a trick. I’ve had a crush on her since I was a kid and saw her sexpot turn in It’s A Wonderful Life. I didn’t learn until years later that she had a whole career after that.
(This morning I read that Grahame was in the middle of divorce proceedings with director Nicholas Ray during the making of this movie—after he found her in bed with his 13-year old son. Zoinks!)
This is an awesome movie. Highly recommended, currently streaming on FilmStruck.