📽️ Watched In a Lonely Place.

I watched this because it’s on the movie list on the aesthetics wiki page for dark academia. I’m not sure what qualifies it as dark academia; is it its noirness? The suspense? The sad inevitability of its conclusion? It doesn’t have a connection to learning or school.

Regardless, I enjoyed it and recommend it.

One of the elements of the film is that temperamental screenwriter Dixon Steele (one of the inspirations for Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Dixon Hill writes feverishly, composing by hand and then giving pages to his neighbor/girlfriend, Laurel Gray, to type up. He also gives her elaborate breakfast orders and makes other demands of her that are things people normally get compensated for doing. This reminded me of stories of J. D. Salinger and other writers relying on the women in their lives to take care of everything except the writing. It didn’t sit well with me in this movie and I think Steele’s behavior is supposed to serve as evidence that he is Not A Great Guy. It’s a little hard to be sure, as the film was released in 1950, but within the film a massage therapist tells Gray that she should be getting paid for typing and to look after her own career.

Steele being a dude who can alternate between charming and scary reminded me of Jenny Offill’s term, “art monster,” a concept I first encountered in Austin Kleon’s writing. He can be terrifyingly violent. At one point in the film, Steele’s friend’s wife says to Gray something like “He’s an artist; he can get away with being temperamental.” I read this not as an excuse being made by the film, but rather as another moment that is designed to make the audience worry for Gray’s wellbeing.

All told, a great movie, well executed.

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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