Saturday night, I caught two Bogart films on TMC, 1951’s uneven The Enforcer, a fictionalization of the discovery and prosecution of the notorious Murder, Inc., and a great film I’d unaccountably missed in my peerings at and mumblings on the era’s work.
That film is In a Lonely Place (1950), based on the recently-republished Dorothy Hughes title of the same name. earlier this year, Bookslut ran an intriguing, thoughtful appreciation of the original book.
I won’t rehash the plot here, but I will reiterate Bookslut’s note that the film is much changed from the original. Bogart plays Dixon Steele, whom Hughes presents as a wannabe writer; in the film, he’s a has-been screenwriter.
The film’s writers, Andrew Solt and Edmund North, have a ball with the screenwriter’s tension between book and film, going out of their way to establish the screenwriter’s obligation to discard the book. The film’s tense narrative kicks off with the murder of a hat check girl last seen at Steele’s home. She has come by to retell the narrative of a potboiler that Steele is being sought to adapt. Steele makes no bones about his contempt for the source material.
Perhaps I was sensitized to this content by last year’s wonderful Adaptation – but I sure didn’t find any commentary about it elsewhere on the web.
The film is one of the most effective films I’ve ever seen Bogart in, and I highly recommend it to you.