In the Cut isn’t the first attempt to take back the night. Rescued from obscurity by CUNY’s Feminist Press, Dorothy B. Hughes’s 1947 pulp thriller In a Lonely Place ($14.95, paper)—source for Nicholas Ray’s 1950 movie—is a fascinating exercise in duplicitous narration that subverts noir misogyny by unfolding inside the mind of a serial sex-killer. Ray’s movie (less noir than gris) upgrades the antihero from murderous con artist to Humphrey Bogart’s tormented screenwriter, getting props for evoking Hollywood’s blacklist paranoia. Hughes’s more sinister look at post-war America reveals the movie as the recuperation of her recuperation. Don’t bother looking for the celebrated line Gloria Grahame reads back to Bogie: “I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me.” In the novel, the femme fatale is the hero.
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