Director: Nicholas Ray
Year Released: 1950
Humphrey Bogart, a screenwriter struggling through a block of sorts, is encouraged to adapt a rather lousy novel into a cinematic blockbuster, but since he refuses to read it, he has some young social climber come over to his place and explain it to him who, that very night, gets murdered (Bogart, naturally, becomes the prime suspect). Eventually, Bogart and a neighbor (Gloria Grahame) get eyes for each other, and during their relationship Bogart's demeanor gets more and more violent, causing people to wonder about his innocence. Sympathizing with a thoroughly unpleasant lead character is quite a challenge - his internal turmoil (the result of being such a troubled "artist?" - ho-hum) resulting in ferocious outbursts directed towards friends and strangers (the film goes overboard in making him as "evil" as possible to keep you questioning his moral character). Furthermore, the cold, detached atmosphere developed by Ray keeps the more sensitive characters far away (the agent, the dandy poet).