Hollywood screenwriter Dixon "Dix" Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is having career problems. He hasn't written a successful movie in a long, long time, and his last picture stunk.
He solicits a personal description of a book that's been submitted to him. Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart, no, not THAT Martha Stewart), a nightclub hat check girl who had just finished reading it, gives him the rundown. But, y'know, the book is trash, and he sends her home.
Early the next morning, his old Army buddy, Det. Sgt. Brub Nicolai (Frank Lovejoy), show up at his front door and takes him to the police station. During an interview with Capt. Lochner (Carl Benton Reid), he learns that Mildred was murdered and dumped from a moving car into a canyon. And he's the prime suspect.
Dix gets an alibi from a new neighbor, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), a small-time actress who says she saw the check room girl leave his apartment about a half hour after she got there. She visits him later and they seem to click. In fact, they eventually fall in love.
Nicolai and his wife, Silvia (Jean Marie "Jeff" Donnell), have Dix over for dinner, where he explains his theory of how the murder was committed. It makes a lot of sense. His friends – agent Mel Lippman (Art Smith) and thespian Charlie Waterman (Robert Warwick) – are amazed that Laurel's gotten him to buckle down and work.
But Capt. Lochner still suspects Dix. During Laurel’s conversation with her masseuse, we learn a bit more about Dix and his short temper, and even her past.
Despite how things turn out, some things are just not meant to be.
Pianist and vocalist Hadda Brooks, who sang in Hawaii's official 1959 statehood ceremony, performs "I Ain't Had Anyone Till You."
Both Humphrey Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall, and Ginger Rogers were considered for the role of Laurel Gray, which went to Gloria Grahame, director Nicolas Ray's wife. Grahame and Ray secretly separated during filming. She eventually married Ray's son from a previous marriage – Anthony Ray, her stepson.
In a Lonely Place is adapted from Dorothy B. Hughes' 1947 novel of the same name. Time Magazine put the film on its "All-Time 100" list. It is considered to be one of the finest classic examples of the film noir genre and has been preserved in the U.S. Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
"I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks when she loved me." – Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart)
"There is no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality." – Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart)
"What does it matter what I think? I'm the guy who tried to talk Selznick out of doing 'Gone With The Wind'!" – Mel Lippman (Art Smith)