Steichen photographs Marlene Deitrich, 1932


Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950): Summer of Noir GIFs, Day 13

Nitrate Diva


Louise Brooks—she of the obsidian helmet hairdo, spellbinding screen presence, and writer of trenchant film essays—knew Humphrey Bogart before he became a big star. Like her, he was a loner. So, appropriately enough, Brooks cited the tormented screenwriter Dixon Steele of In a Lonely Place as the part that best mirrored his true self:

“[B]efore inertia set in, he played one fascinatingly complex character, craftily directed by Nicholas Ray, in a film whose title perfectly defined Humphrey’s own isolation among people. In a Lonely Place gave him a role that he could play with complexity because the film character’s, the screenwriter’s, pride in his art, his selfishness, his drunkenness, his lack of energy stabbed with lightning strokes of violence, were shared equally by the real Bogart.”

Read her full article “Humphrey and Bogey.”

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Delmer Daves’s Dark Passage (1947): Summer of Noir GIFs, Day 4

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Whenever there’s mention of first-person POV camera, the word gimmick is never far away. 1947 was both a very good and a very bad year for this device, what with Robert Montgomery’s epically awkward opus The Lady in the Lady proving that the technique could be used as a murder weapon. It kills the movie and slays our patience.

By contrast, Dark Passage, another 1947 film noir, arguably handles the extended first-person camera gimmick better than any other movie before or since. Director Delmer Daves deploys it for maximum dynamic impact without slavishly restricting perspective.


The POV effect works most thrillingly during the opening sequence, a masterclass in economical storytelling. As the barrel carrying San Quentin escapee Vincent Parry rolls down a hill, the audience rolls down the hill with it, peering out of the circular opening at the blurry vegetation whizzing by outside.

Of course, we have no background on…

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