Many types of characters in literature and film exist, but right now the everyman is the most intriguing for me. He's a mix of hope and tragedy. Few actors capture that emotion quite like Humphrey Bogart, and few directors help create such a character like Nicholas Ray did with his film In a Lonely Place.
Love is at the center of life. The struggle for acceptance, the struggle to be understood, the desire to express. It's normal to crave the affection of others despite the limiting thought of inadequacy. We're all inadequate, and in this film it's that inadequacy - when matched with the circumstances - that drives this story.
Bogart's character, Dixon Steele, is a screenwriter known for being an angry man. When a girl he was seen with ends up murdered the next day, everyone looks to him as the prime suspect.
A beautiful neighbor named Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) was one of the last people to see Dixon Steele and the soon-to-be-murdered girl together. Because of the murder investigation, Dixon and Laurel meet and become involved in an overpowering friendship and affair. The movie isn't strictly a question of whether they will ultimately love each other. Instead it is exploring how closely Laurel is willing to flirt with the violent streak Dixon, a man suspected of murder, is known for.
In a Lonely Place is as glowing, delicate, seductive, and tragic as each cigarette Gloria Grahame pinches between her lips and sets to the flame Humphrey Bogart holds in his hand. It's a dangerous movie because of how little commitment they have to each other paired with the affection Laurel has for such a volatile character. It captures the disappointment and frustrations that come with the misunderstandings that can't be divorced from the subject of love.
Since the making of this movie, the storyline has been done time and time again, but in the words of Dixon Steele: "It was his story against mine, but of course, I told my story better."