Unrated, 1 hr. 33 min. Directed By: Nicholas Ray. Release Date: May 17, 1950. DVD Release Date: Mar 18, 2003.
This won’t go down as my favorite Bogey movie or my favorite noir. In A Lonely Place has some excellent qualities, but it also has what I consider to be kind of an unforgivable sin of story writing: a huge build-up followed by a somewhat lackluster conclusion. I was expecting something more… shocking, but nope, the end of the movie fizzles out like a balloon where all the air’s been allowed to escape. Pffffffft!
In terms of the film’s technical merits, I think In A Lonely Place holds up rather well. The cast is outstanding, and I really enjoyed the performances throughout the movie’s run time. Some of the camera work is truly outstanding (good enough that I actually noticed it, and I only notice when it’s either really good or really bad), and I love some of the imagery in the movie.
But I can’t get past the ending… and I’m not sure how much to say without ruining the ending for folks who haven’t seen it yet. We watch as Bogart slips further and further into explosively violent behavior in the wake of a brutal murder that he’s suspected of committing. He really goes Robert De Niro a couple of times, and the longer the movie runs, the easier it is to assume that he is guilty of the murder.
And then they ruin all that build-up. The answer’s dropped on us like a dead weight. All kinds of stuff has gone crazy wrong, but the answer appears, delivered in an off-hand manner and without consequence… at least, without significant consequence. Some of the bridges we see were already burned, so they were tangential at least. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t really deliver what I think of as an adequate response to the situation. I’d at least have sworn once or twice.
So, those last ten or fifteen minutes of the film really killed it for me. Took what probably would have been a great movie and made it an okay one. I know this is widely respected as one of Nicholas Ray’s best films, but it was just a meh for me.