Sat, Dec 16, 11:30am: Introduction from Jennifer Fay, associate professor and director of cinema and media arts at Vanderbilt University. BUY TICKETS
Humphrey Bogart, in what many consider his greatest role, stars in this bleak film noir as Dixon Steele, a hard drinking washed-up screenwriter implicated in the murder of an adoring young coat check girl who he invites back to his home to give him notes on a novel he’s been contracted to adapt. After absolving Steele of the crime, his neighbor, aspiring actress Laurel (Gloria Grahame) strikes up a relationship with the tormented man. She soon begins to see Steele’s tendency toward random violence, though, and fears she may have been wrong about him all along. The tumultuous climax that follows firmly cements the film as one of Nicholas Ray's most affecting and humane portrayals of man at odds with his emotions. In light of the recent news that’s displayed the toxic power dynamics and sexual abuse in Hollywood, the film’s spiral into darkness is especially disturbing—and make a rewatch and reconsideration of this classic particularly timely.