Bogart: “needful yet closed off, cynical and ruefully philosophical”

Andrew Dickos, in his perceptive survey of film noir, ‘Street With No Name: A History of the Classic American Film Noir’ (University Press of Kentucky 2002), from a discussion of the films of Nicholas Ray, has this to say about the noir protagonist and by reference Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of Dixon Steele in Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950):

“The world of Nicholas Ray’s noir films so clearly coincides with his vision of the dislocated, violent individual trapped in postwar America that it is fair to say the noir perspective displayed in these films is simply a variant of a vision apparent throughout most of his work. His characters anguish on a personal battleground where social forces structuring human discourse are internally disavowed and raged at and the most formidable opponent finally becomes one’s own conflicted self trying to function in the world… (p. 82)

“In Ray’s world of the angry and spiritually discomfited, Dixon Steele is more tormented by paranoia than any of the others. Certainly the project of screenwriting as an agency of moviemaking challenges one to achieve creative expression only to see the end product so often distorted, mutilated, or made banal by commercial forces. Steele faces this but is, moreover, self-lacerated, as many of Ray’s characters are, by the psychic urge to find meaning in a life personally and routinely bereft of it. This vision, cast in the noir mode and personified by Humphrey Bogart in one of his most intriguing roles, is perhaps better explained by reference to another Ray film, Rebel without a Cause. Victor Perkins described the planetarium sequence, as James Dean and his friends gaze upward at the universe while the narrator comments about gas, fire, and the insignificance of the planet’s impending destruction. “It is against this concept of man’s life as an episode of little consequence”, he wrote, “rather than against society, or his family, that Dean rebels.” * Dixon Steele emerges as a glamorous cultural variant of such rebellion. Violent but not knowing why, provocative but to what end, needful yet closed off, cynical and ruefully philosophical, Steele is, finally, Hollywood’s figure of a troubled man. And who better to personify such a postwar figure than Bogart?” (p. 87)

* Perkins, V.F. ‘The Cinema of Nicholas Ray’,  Movie, no. 9 (1963), pp. 4–10.

Sam Spade Radio Capers

The Maltese Falcon - Book Cover

In the 40s and 50s, The Adventures of Sam Spade, was a popular US radio show based on stories written by Dashiell Hammett, featuring Howard Duff in the lead. But the story Blue Moon features the the chemistry of Bogie and Bacall!

The Free Information Society has five of the original broadcasts available for free download:

  • Blue Moon: with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  • Missing Newshank Caper
  • Over My Dead Body Caper
  • Stopped Watch Caper
  • Terrified Turkey Caper

The Thrilling Detective site has more information on the shows on it’s excellent Sam Spade page.

The Glass Key: Mercury Radio Production (1939)

Orson Welles

Thanks to a pointer to the Mercury Theater on the Air site from Lloydville of

Amongst many broadcasts from this famous Orson Welles radio-play project, is a 1939 radio adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Glass Key, which was adapted for the screen in 1935 and again in 1942.

You can download an MP3 of the original broadcast from the Mercury Theater on the Air site.

Film Noir Radio

Download these original radio broadcasts featuring the original cast and director’s commentary from

Radio Film Noir Episode 13

High Sierra

Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino in the Screen Guild Theater’s production of High Sierra, April 17, 1947.

Radio Film Noir Episode 12
Orson Welles, reprises his role as Harry Lime, in The Adventures of Harry Lime, The Golden Fleece Oct 12, 1951.

Radio Film Noir Episode 11
The Lux Radio Theater production of The Third Man, starring Joseph Cotten, Apr 09, 1951.

Radio Film Noir Episode 10
The Screen Director’s Playhouse production of Life Boat, Nov 16, 1950.

Radio Film Noir Episode 9
The Maltese Falcon Jul 03, 1946 starring Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet.

Radio Film Noir Episode 8


Radio Film Noir episode 8, presents Lux Radio Theater production of Gaslight starring Ingred Bergman and Charles Boyer, April 29, 1946.

Radio Film Noir Episode 7
Lux Radio Theater Manhattan Melodrama Sep, 09, 1946.

Radio Film Noir Episode 6
The Screen Director’s Playhouse version of The Big Clock, starring Ray Milland.

Radio Film Noir Episode 5
Screen Director’s Playhouse Spellbound Mar 08 1948 starring Joseph Cotton.

Radio Film Noir Episode 4
Burt Lancaster in the Screen Directors production of Criss Cross Oct 10, 1949.

Radio Film Noir Episode 3
The Lux Radio Theater production of The Woman In The Window Jun 25, 1945 starring Edward G Robinson.

Radio Film Noir Episode 2
Shadow of A Doubt starring Joseph Cotton from the Academy Award series Sep 11, 1946.

Radio Film Noir Episode 1

The Killers

Screen Director’s Playhouse, The Killers Jun 05, 1949 starring Burt Lancaster and Shelly Winters.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 83 – Screen Director’s Playhouse

Call Northside 777

Newspaperman as detective as Jimmy Stewart (right) turns detective as he tries to solve a miscarriage of justice. A radio play based on Call Northside 777.