The lonely lady

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Now that I'm reading Dorothy B. Hughes's 1947 pulp classic, In a Lonely Place, which inspired Nicholas Ray's 1950 noir masterpiece of the same name, I can't stop thinking about Gloria Grahame. Grahame, who was Ray's wife at the time, stars opposite deeply damaged screenwriter Dix Steele (Humphrey Bogart, in the best performance of his career) as Laurel Gray, the woman who loves and fears him. Grahame's vulnerability in this role is absolutely staggering; it's hard to stay in love with a man who you think may be a killer. And yet she does. Throughout her career, Grahame would play the girlfriend of other sociopaths—perhaps none so odious as Lee Marvin's Vince Stone, who throws a pot of scalding-hot coffee on GG's face in The Big Heat (1953). In her life offscreen, Grahame, who died in 1981 at age 57, might be best known for this scandal: Of her four marriages, the longest one was to her stepson Anthony Ray (son of Nicholas, husband No. 2), with whom she had two children before divorcing in 1974. You couldn't write a twistier noir than that.

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