DIRECTOR - Nicholas Ray


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  SirPant's Rating My Rating
1
They Live by Night (The Twisted Road) 1948,  Unrated)
2
Knock on Any Door 1949,  Unrated)
3
A Woman's Secret 1949,  Unrated)
A Woman's Secret
A Woman's Secret isn't so much a 'Who dunnit?' but more of a 'Who, why and how?'. The conclusion isn't really that much of a surprise, we've been a bit spoiled since the film was made in 1949 and perhaps expect a little more from our twists. That said, it doesn't really seem that important, at least, it's not the most interesting thing about the film. The real strength are the characters and the script. The dialogue is perfect through and through, the relationships between Marian Washburn and Susan Caldwell, Marian Washburn and Luke Jordan, Luke Jordan & Fowler, Fowler and Mrs. Fowler are all wonderful. Towards the end it is probably Mrs. Fowler that steals the show, in any other film that would be a huge distraction but not here. Nicholas Ray knew what he was doing.
4
Roseanna McCoy 1949,  Unrated)
5
In a Lonely Place 1950,  Unrated)
6
Born to Be Bad 1950,  PG)
7
Flying Leathernecks 1951,  Unrated)
8
The Racket 1951,  R)
9
On Dangerous Ground 1952,  R)
10
Macao 1952,  Unrated)
11
The Lusty Men 1952,  Unrated)
12
Androcles And The Lion 1953,  PG)
13
Johnny Guitar 1954,  PG)
Johnny Guitar
Johnny Guitar is probably my favourite western I've seen so far. It looks so good thanks to brilliant director Nicholas Ray and the performances are second to none, Joan Crawford giving one of the most captivating performances ever and Mercedes McCambridge being one of the most overlooked cinematic villains of all time. The story is so much more than the usual Westerns of the time, a popular genres that was almost done to death until a brief come back in the 70's and again much more recently. Johnny Guitar still remains one of the more memorable and original and a bit of a cult classic.
14
Run for Cover (Colorado) 1955,  Unrated)
15
Rebel Without a Cause 1955,  PG-13)
Rebel Without a Cause
Rebel without a cause is not the best film on the subject of 1950's post-war juvenile delinquency but it's certainly not the worst, it's just the most mainstream. It was an important movie of its time but its relevance has been lost somewhat. I love it visually, I love the 50's, I love James Dean and I'm a huge Jim Backus fan but the story is flawed and unfortunately a little dated. In many ways it has stood the test of time but for all the wrong reasons. I have to give it a love/hate rating of 3 out of five!
16
Hot Blood 1956,  Unrated)
17
Bigger Than Life (1956) 1956,  Unrated)
18
The True Story of Jesse James 1957,  Unrated)
19
Bitter Victory 1957,  Unrated)
20
Wind Across the Everglades 1958,  Unrated)
21
Party Girl 1958,  Unrated)
Party Girl
Even in 1958, the style of acting and melodrama in Party Girl was outdated. So too were the dance numbers, the over-reactions and overall look of the film. I think this is intentional, it is Nicholas Ray after all. The characters aren't as two dimensional as they are in many of the older gangster films and there is a very dark undertone to the whole production. Our hero is morally questionable from the start and this plays through the entire film. It's a sugar-coated look at the depths of human empathy, selfishness and moral judgement but it never disguises the fact that this is what it is about. The sugar coating is to lure you in, sweet then sour, what the taste that is left in your mouth is is up to you. Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse and Lee J Cobb are perfect in their respective performances.
22
The Savage Innocents 1961,  Unrated)
23
King of Kings 1961,  PG-13)
24
55 Days at Peking 1963,  Unrated)
25
We Can't Go Home Again 1976,  Unrated)
26
Lightning Over Water 1980,  Unrated)
Lightning Over Water
Lightning over Water is a fascinating documentary of sorts, it's an interesting project I've not seen before or since anyway. Nicholas Ray was a charismatic director and also a bit of a workaholic, only really truly happy when working on a film. That is where it's hard to say if it was all planned or if wenders took advantage, as at times it is quite an uncomfortable film to watch, even for the more hardened voyeur. I think only two filmmakers such as Wenders and Ray could have actually pulled it off to be honest and it's a pleasure to be able to watch what is a very personally film for both of them. The last interview with Ray is something that stayed with me for days but then so was the image of the old sailing ship floating in New York bay. Not for everyone but for fans of either Ray and/or Wenders it's a must.

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