You get what you want

Bogart is a loose-lipped, down-on-his-luck screenwriter with an attitude. This is one of his least appealing characters, quite on purpose, as the script tries to create doubt as to whether this Dixon Steele is a murderer. Steele has enough of an edge to him, it's surprising he'd have any friends at all.

Steele pays a young woman to help him with a script late one night. He is awoken the next morning with the news that she has been found dead. Steele naturally comes under suspicion, and his unconcerned manner keeps the cops on him even as no evidence shows up. His new neighbor, Laurel, clears him, and their attraction is immediate. They are both rash and impulsive, and it is not long before they see their futures in each other.

The question of the murder remains. Steele's innocence is fairly plain to us as the audience, though clearly we're meant to have doubts. Laurel eventually starts seeing these doubts herself, as Steele's character flaws are entirely too suggestive.

Honestly, I was beginning to lose interest toward the end of the film. The overt plot of Steele's innocence was beginning to sour on me. It was too familiar, and too obvious at that point for the resolution to mean anything.

Yet that is not the whole story. The last few minutes craft something quite unexpected with Steele and Laurel that makes it all worth it. We're left with a powerful statement on the human mind being able to create what it wants.

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