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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Marlene Dietrich, behind the glamour: why she entertained and comforted Allied soldiers, “It was the decent thing to do.”

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“Acting’s just waiting for a custard pie. That’s all.” Katharine Hepburn

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“I often joke that he was my one and only sugar daddy!” Eva Marie Saint on Alfred Hitchcock and North by Northwest

I laughed way too hard!!


hitchcock evamariesaint

When I got the role, I had just given birth to my daughter Laurette Hayden. So, after I lost a few pounds, Hitch began the process of transforming me into Eve Kendall. He personally oversaw all of the details of Bill Tuttle’s glamorous makeup designs and the sophisticated hairstyles of Sydney Guilaroff. But he wasn’t so crazy about MGM’s costumes for me. The studio designed a wardrobe for my character but Hitchcock didn’t like it and threw out almost everything. Then he took me to Bergdorf Goodman in New York and we selected the rest of my wardrobe right off the models. I often joke that he was my one and only sugar daddy!


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The Lady from Shanghai (1947): More Than Luck

magnificent film ❤

Nitrate Diva

lady“A director is someone who presides over accidents.” —Orson Welles

“You are made from nothing but this, from these contingent manifestations, from these little discontinuities.” —Jacques Lacan

See this movie before you die.

It sounds glib, doesn’t it? Appealing to your fear of the ultimate deadline to add weight to my recommendation. Certainly it would be rather difficult to see the movie afterwards.

Strange thing, though… Once I got talking to a brilliant man who was lecturing at my college, a full-time cosmologist, no less, and a part-time cinephile. He’d somehow neglected to see The Lady From Shanghai, my all-time favorite film, so I told him that he simply had to.

He emailed me a few weeks afterwards to tell me that he’d watched it: “I loved the editing, the close-ups, the movement, the characters talking over each other. There was really no part where I was not totally engaged…

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Katharine Hepburn as Woman of the Year

This is one of the best films of the 40s!!

Silver Screenings

ksdjf aksdfj alksdfj alskdfj  Image: Doctor MacroSpencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn: Fireworks at first sight. Image: Doctor Macro

We’re torn when it comes to the 1942 romantic comedy Woman of the Year.

This is an early WWII comedy about a slightly rumpled sportswriter (Spencer Tracy) who meets and marries a gonna-liberate-all-women-and-save-the-world journalist (Katharine Hepburn).

After a fast and intense courtship, the two marry, then learn to adjust to each other.

Or not.

Tracy’s character loves an opinionated, high-spirited woman, but he’s woefully unprepared to live with Hepburn’s doggedness. If she’s not rescuing Greek orphans, she’s giving asylum to political refugees or interviewing world leaders. As Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock might say, Hepburn runs “madly off in all directions”.

In this film, director George Stevens uses dialogue as a frame for the more important job of defining the characters. For example, when Tracy first meets Hepburn in person, it is in the newspaper…

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