Not just intrigue, but one hell of a set of drapes. Between the drapes, the slats, and the pattern on his robe, it’s a new genre: film moire. What happens towards the end?
Our hero, and the reason it’s worth watching:
Not just Bogart, but later Bogart, and apparently later drunk Bogart as well. He plays a bitter screenwriter named, believe it or not, DIXON STEELE, the manliest two-fisted name what ever penned a screen scorcher. But Dix hasn’t written much lately, and he’s coasting. When the gal he had over for a drink turns up dead in a ravine, the cops drop by to ask him downtown. And also ask him about the lampshade. Skin a drape for that one, Dix? You could always do the walls up in tartan, you know.Not sure you got enough plaid around.
Lucky for the bitter, unsympathetic, nasty Dix, he has an alibi: the dame across the courtyard vouches for him, because she wants him. She doesn’t know if he did it. She ought to know better, for heaven’s sake - she’s Gloria Grahame.
She’s been dealing with hard-case gal-smackers all her film career, so she knew the ride before she bought the ticket, or whatever the noir figure of speech would be. This is one of the few big movies she headlines. She usually specialized in gutter-hauteur, but she's respectable here. Steele likes her just fine, and pretty soon they’re hanging out, smoking.
The singer in the bar scene:
Hadda Brooks. Nickname: “Queen of the Boogie.” Was the first black woman in the US to host her own TV show, imdb says. She had 40 years in the wilderness after the ’57 TV show - no TV or movies - but wikipedia says she played the Algonquin and the Viper Room in the late 90s. She died in 02.
I love this shot:
And this: our heroine gets some stern advice about that maniac Steele from her personal masseuse, who’s two-tons of well-packed German fury:
I have a hard time recalling a modern studio movie that has such simple shots. Simple and effective.
Sometimes this works against the movie - lots of rear-projection. (There's a day-for-night beach scene with rear-projection, which is about as unreal as it got in those days.) The movie is mostly set-bound, with a few flashes of disturbing action that paint Steele as, well, a Dix. It’s one of Bogart’s most unsympathetic roles. The film doesn’t stand up for him, because we really don’t know if he did it. When the stunning mounting climax occurs, we learn all, and when the film ends you’re glad you saw it. Bogart in his last third, Grahame in the lead - it’s 1950 all over the place.
Oh, one more thing. Here's Dix’s elfin agent, a rather pathetic figure who stands by his client because he doesn’t have any others.
As for the name of the main character, DIXON STEELE, well, surely they had to know. Surely they had to shoot this sequence ten times before people stopped laughing.