“I didn’t say I was a gentleman; I said I was tired.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
But it’s the primary players here who really hold our attention: Bogart’s “Dixon Steele” (what a name!) — an “ex-GI who’s been trying to make a comeback since the war ended”, and whose “frustrations have manifested” in both “cynical remarks about the movie industry” and repeated “violent tantrums” — is presented as an admirably complex protagonist.
Meanwhile, sexy Grahame (who in real life “was about to get her divorce from Ray”) transcends her initial characterization as a presumed-femme fatale to emerge as a loving and supportive romantic partner.
As detectives continue to probe the mysterious case, we’re kept on the edge of our seats: we don’t want to believe that Bogie (our hero!) could possibly have committed the murder, but we slowly see — through the perspective of Grahame, who has “become the main character” — that he’s certainly “capable of such an act”, and we begin to genuinely fear for her safety.
The surprisingly downbeat ending packs a punch: it’s realistic, respectful, and decidedly unusual for Hollywood fare at the time. With its smart script, solid direction by Ray, atmospheric cinematography by Burnett Guffey, and fine performances across the board, this fatalistic noir remains a must-see classic for all film fanatics.
Note: In Hughes’ original novel, Steele is “a serial sex murderer” who relates the story from his own perspective; clearly, some adjustments were needed before Hollywood would consent to telling this tale!
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)