Matters of Survival: A Note on In a Lonely Place & Bigger Than Life

In a Lonely Place (1950) and Bigger Than Life (1956), two of Nicholas Ray’s finest films, are about two men made to feel “ten feet tall” in order to survive. For Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) in Place, it happens in a war; World War II, to be precise. For Ed Avery (James Mason) in Life, […]

Dreamers: John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre & The Misfits

Speaking of cowboys, Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) says to aging cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable), “I love every miserable one of you, though you’re all good for nothing, as you well know,” to which he replies, “That may be, but it’s better than wages.” That motto (“it’s better than wages”) is referred to several times […]

A Note on Hitchcock’s Strangler Trilogy.

Flanked by Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Strangers on a Train (1951), Rope. A budding pianist anxious to know if his debut concert will be a success, Philip asks Mrs. Atwater to read his palm. She grants his request and says: “These hands will bring you great fame.” Her prophecy should please him, but […]