“I was born when she kissed me; I died when she left me; I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”
USA / 1950
Dir: Nicholas Ray
Writer: Andrew Solt (based on the novel by Dorothy B Hughes)
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Art Smith, Jeff Donnell, Martha Stewart, Robert Warwick
While classic thrillers tripped off the Hollywood production line in the ’40s and ’50s, the three protagonists at the heart of this movie still stood out as amongst the best. Humphrey Bogart starred in The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep and Dark Passage. Gloria Grahame went on to become the legendary recipient of a cup of coffee in the face in The Big Heat, and director Nicholas Ray’s first film was the classic They Live by Night.
Bogart stars as a quick-tempered Hollywood screenwriter, Dixon Steele, suspected of murdering a hat-check girl. He begins a relationship with his starlet neighbour, Lauren Gray (Grahame), who provides him with a false alibi. But, frustrated by the shameless commercialism of the movie industry, Steele’s moods swing from cynical and morose to passionate and happy when he’s with his new love. All the while, though, concern increases about his violent side, a streak Lauren witnesses first-hand when Steele beats a young student unconscious following a minor car accident. Now Lauren starts to fear that her lover may actually be the killer.
Variety praised the film, calling it “forceful drama” and there are many tender scenes and some beautiful dialogue, including Bogart’s quintessential noir line: “I was born when she kissed me; I died when she left me; I lived a few weeks while she loved me.” Whether Ray felt the same is unknown: he’d been married to Gloria Grahame since 1948, but the couple split up two years after making this movie.