Saturday, June 25, 2011

In a Lonely Place (1950) - Film Locations

Bogart as screenwriter, Dixon "Dix" Steele

In 1950, Hollywood produced three amazing films revealing a dark side to show business: Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, and In a Lonely Place. In my opinion, Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve are the much stronger films overall, but In a Lonely Place is certainly no slouch. Humphrey Bogart's electrifying performance as down-on-his-luck screenwriter, Dixon Steele, really makes In A Lonely Place a gem to watch. Add in Nicholas Ray's melodramatic directing touches and noir starlet Gloria Graham and you got the ingredients for a delicious cinematic treat. Like Sunset Boulevard, In a Lonely Place features a few Los Angeles area locations and I decided to track some of those locations down. 

The film opens with Bogart driving. Bogart comes to a stop at an intersection and turns to a pretty girl who is sitting with her husband in the next lane over. On a hunch, I figured that this intersection would be in Beverly Hills, so using Google Street View, I picked a commercial street and started comparing the buildings to the screenshot below. I couldn't have been more lucky. I found the intersection after scrolling just three blocks from my starting point. The intersection is North Beverly Drive at South Santa Monica Boulevard. The way I spotted this was from the unique detailing on the building which I've circled with the red oval.

N. Beverly Drive at S. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills

N. Beverly Drive at S. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills

The only building still standing at this intersection that can be seen in the film is the one that I've circled. The rest have been torn down and replaced. The next two comparisons give a different view of the intersection.

Bogart at the intersection of Beverly & Santa Monica

Looking south down Beverly Boulevard. The store in the background is now replaced by a modern glass building.

Looking south down Beverly Boulevard.

Looking north up Beverly Boulevard.

Looking north up Beverly Boulevard.

One interesting note about In a Lonely Place, is that Nicholas Ray modeled the set of Bogart's apartment building after the Villa Primavera apartments in West Hollywood, the same apartment building Ray lived at when he first came to Hollywood. Although the apartment courtyard and interiors were recreated on a soundstage, in one scene we do get a glimpse of what is across the street from the actual apartment location. In the screenshot below, Bogart is walking up to the entrance of the Villa Primavera apartments located at 1300 North Harper Avenue. The view in the background is the intersection of Harper and Fountain Avenue.

Bogart at the Villa Primavera apartments.

Fountain Ave at Harper, West Hollywood

Bogart in the apartment courtyard.

The apartment is gated, but below is the entrance to the Villa Primavera apartments. You can see a fountain in the center by looking through the gate, similar to the one Ray recreated on a soundstage.

1300 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood

Later in the film Bogart is seen leaving the Beverly Hills post office which is located directly across from the Beverly Hills City Hall building. Below is a screenshot of Bogart and the City Hall building. As of present, the area between City Hall and the Post Office is fenced off and under construction, so I couldn't get a good photo of the City Hall building. Instead, I have a Google Street View screenshot for comparison.

Bogart in front of Beverly Hills City Hall

Beverly Hills City Hall (c) Google 2011

In another scene, Bogart is taken into the Beverly Hills Police Station for questioning in a murder case. Below, Bogart is seen leaving the police station, which is a side entrance to the City Hall building. Today the bushes have been cut away and now palm trees have been planted in front of the entrance.

Bogart leaves the Beverly Hills police station.

Side entrance to Beverly Hills City Hall.

Below is a scene of Bogart driving off with Gloria Graham after a beach picnic. In the background we see the Canyon Market, located at the intersection of Chautauqua Blvd, Channel Road and the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. Just below the screenshot is a historic photograph of the Canyon Market that gives us a better view of how this intersection once looked. Following that image is a photo I took showing how the intersection looks today. I believe the building that is standing there today is the same building, only greatly modified.


Photo Credit: Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives

Former site of Canyon Market, Santa Monica

As Bogart drives off in a rage, another building we see him pass is the Casino Lunch building. This is located across the street from the Canyon Market building. Below is the screenshot of the Casino Lunch building as seen in the film. Below that is a historic photo providing a better view of the Casino Lunch building, followed by a photo I took showing the intersection as it appears today.

Bogart drives by the Casino Lunch building in Santa Monica.

Photo (c) California Historical Society

Former site of Casino Lunch, Santa Monica

Of the three show biz related 1950 films, Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, and In a Lonely Place, what's your favorite? (I say "show biz" because I know All About Eve is more about Broadway than Hollywood.)

10 comments:

Chris said...

Thanks for the great information Robbie!!

I've been meaning to see In A Lonely Place, now I'll have to...

My job takes me by these locations and I've walked Beverly Drive and Little Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills quite a bit. I can't wait to see them in the film.

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

A job well done! Those bungalows always had me curious and learning they were indeed a soundstage makes sense...that Hollywood magic again.

In a Lonely Place should be Ray's finest moment, but unfortunately it's hampered by some comedic music scoring and the poor performance of Art Smth as Dix's manager. Otherwise, a fine film.

Robby Cress said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the comment. Also, the next time you're in that part of Beverly Hills, just one block up from the intersection of N. Beverly and S. Santa Monica (where Bogie is stopped in his car) is where Vincent Price's Little Gallery used to be located. I wrote about that location here: http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/2010/11/vincent-prices-little-gallery.html

Thanks C.K. Dexter Haven. It really is amazing what studio artists can recreate on a soundstage. It really is an art!

Zinnia Cress said...

great job on finding that building with the little fancy corner! good detective work indeed! :) xoxo

Christopher said...

Off topic, do you know anything about Dor Mar Estates? We saw an old tile mural at the top of one of the roads in the Outpost Estates and have not been able to find anything about it. I can send you a photo if you wish. Email me at cgm95 @ yahoo.com.

Love to see the old locations, BTW. We do the same thing whenever we are in town.

Christopher

Laura said...

Terrific detective work! Love how you used Google Street View. My daughter just started a job in Beverly Hills so I've passed this on to her as she might pass some of the locations. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

Aunt Snow said...

The intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and West Channel/Chatauqua is part of "In A Lonely Place" even more than you indicate.

In Dorothy B. Hughes' novel that the film was based on, in the opening chapter Dix Steele has a drink in a bar described as having a ship's prow as a facade. That bar is in the commercial strip where the Casino Lunch is in the historical society picture - it's the Ship Ahoy beneath the banner. During the '50s it was a gay bar called the SS Friendship, and appears in the novels of Christopher Isherwood (who lived nearby). It still has that ship's prow today.

Robby Cress said...

Aunt Snow,

Many thanks for sharing that tidbit about the Ship Ahoy. I had not heard that background on the SS Friendship before and will now have to check out one of the Isherwood novels.

himynameisCharl said...

What a wonderful post! I'm currently writing a dissertation on the portrayal of Hollywood and Los Angeles in film noir, which deals a lot with the locations used and how the city acts almost as a character in its own right. This was very interesting to read :)

Victoria said...

Your blog is fantastic! In a Lonely Place is one of my favorite movies and I've always loved Bogie's apartment in it. I'm so thrilled to have found this post!

I lived in So Cal for 30 years and so wished I'd have explored more of Hollywood and L.A. but, after the 80's I never bothered. I did visit Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Woods graves though! My oldest son lived in Silver Lake and now lives in another part of L.A. so when I get back there to visit him I'll have to visit some of the places you show on your blog!

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