In this film noir, Humphrey Bogart plays a violent and ill-tempered screenwriter who becomes the chief suspect in a murder of a young woman seen leaving his house. His neighbor, a mysterious woman played by Gloria Grahame, provides an alibi, and the couple become lovers. It was Bogart's idea to make this film with his own company, feeling frustrated with the tough guy roles repeatedly given him under his long-standing Warner Bros. contract. After his break-through role as Duke Mantee in Petrified Forest (1936), he played toughs and underworld types in 28 Warner films 1936-1941. In 1942 he signed a seven-year contract with Warner and did a series of WWII films. Bogart and his business manager Morgan Maree and his liberal friend Robert Lord set up his Santana Pictures April 12, 1948, and 5 days later signed Nicholas Ray to make Willard Motley's Knock On Any Door, released April 1949 (Motley was from the Chicago Federal Writers Project and would be investigated in 1951 by HUAC II and exiled to Mexico). Santana would make 3 more pictures: Tokyo Joe (1949), In a Lonely Place (1950), and Sirocco (1951). Bogart and Ray were both liberal, anti-studio, honest in their craft, alcoholic, and married to younger women (in 1948, Bogart was 49 and 2nd wife Lauren Bacall was 24; Ray was 37 and 2nd wife Gloria Grahame was 23). Nicholas Ray was just
starting his distinguished Hollywood career that would include Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and King of Kings (1963). He had studied for a year at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen Fellowship in 1933, joined the radical Workers Laboratory Theater in New York, studied the new Method acting with Elia Kazan at the Group Theater, joined in 1938 the WPA Federal Theater in FDR's New Deal, recorded folk songs with Alan Lomax, joined the Communist Party briefly while director of the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration, was investigated by the Dies Committee in 1939, did radio plays with CBS in New York in 1940, went with John Houseman to the Domestic Branch of the OWI until it was ended by Congress in 1943, and went with Houseman and Kazan to Hollywood in 1944. He signed a contract with Dore Schary's RKO in 1947 and made Your Red Wagon (released by Howard Hughes as They Live By Night in Nov. 1949).
When Ray refused to direct RKO's I Married a Communist Hughes protected him from the Blacklist that followed the Waldorf Conference of 50 studio executives Nov. 24, 1947 (Schary, Walter Wanger, and Samuel Goldwyn were the only 3 dissenting votes). Bogart and Bacall also opposed the Blacklist and would join the Committee for the First Amendment, as did Gene Kelly.
Bogart would win an Academy Award for The African Queen in 1951 and appeared in the Billy Wilder romantic comedy Sabrina in 1954, playing Linus Larrabee with Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild (remade in 1995 with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond). However, in his final films, he would play cynical and complex characters, as a manipulating film director in the 1954 Barefoot Contessa with Ava Gardner, as a disturbing Captain Queeg in the 1954 Caine Mutiny, as an escaped convict in the 1955 Desparate Hours, as a cynical sportswriter in the 1956 The Harder They Fall about the "noir" world of boxing. He died of cancer in1957.