Connect with us
Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies They Live By Night Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies They Live By Night


Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies



While still at school Nicholas Ray wrote a radio series that won him a scholarship to the University of Chicago. He studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright before working in theatre and radio in New York. After experience as assistant director to Elia Kazan on A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) he directed They Live by Night, a touching tale of a young gangster and his true love, doomed in a world that has no that has no place for them. Made in 1947, it was not generally released until 1949, when it was more praised in France and England than the USA. He went on to make other stories of misfits and youngsters in trouble, notably Rebel Without A Cause his first big success. This was followed by a variety of assignments, culminating in two epics shot in Spain, that marked the end of his Hollywood career.

By this time he was becoming a cult director and his silence seemed to reinforce his integrity. He lived in Europe lor some six years, working on one unfinished film. He returned to live in New York and did some teaching at Harpur College, where he made We Can’t Go Home Again with his students.

His friendship with the German director Wim Wenders led to an acting appearance in The American Friend and a final collaboration, when he was dying of cancer, in Lightning Over Water. He married actress Gloria Grahame in 1948 and dancer Betty Itey in 1952.

Here though are our contenders for five of his best movies.

Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies They Live By Night

They Live by Night (1949)
In Ray’s directorial debut, his visionary style becomes clear from the opening scenes. Granger plays a naive young man drawn deeper into crime by two older, hardened outlaws (Howard Da Silva and Jay C. Flippen). Cathy O’Donnell nurses him to health after he’s injured in a robbery and a touching love affair ensues, made all the more poignant because the experience is new to them. Though Granger and O’Donnell want only to go straight and be together, Granger’s first step into crime sealed their fate. Based on the novel Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson, which was given a lighter treatment in Robert Altman’s 1974 version. The prison escape sequence was shot by a helicopter camera placed on a gyro-stabled mount. This was one of the very first feature films to utilize helicopter photography. Note too the Woody Guthrie contribution to the sound track.
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast: Farley Granger, Howard Da Silva, Jay C. Flippen, Cathy O’Donnell, Ian Wolfe, Will Wright

Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies In A Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place (1950)
A stinging, no-holds-barred performance from Humphrey Bogart highlights this taut, noirish tale of paranoia. An unstable, temperamental screenwriter throws out a desperate emotional lifeline to starlet Gloria Grahame. She grabs on for a dangerous ride; when he’s suspected of murder, she confirms his alibi and then begins to wonder if one day she might be next. The down-at-the-heels underside to Hollywood glamour sets the tone of last-chance lives being led at the margins. One of director Ray’s greatest, and a marvelous role for the underappreciated Grahame, then Ray’s wife.
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Martha Stewart

Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar (1954)
Women wear the pants (and guns) in one of the oddest, and most rewarding, Westerns ever brought to the screen. Iconoclast Ray corralled his quarreling costars, Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, long enough to get them brawling on-screen. McCambridge wants saloon owner Crawford to take her bar trade elsewhere or face a lynching. Crawford’s determined to stay, and when mysterious guitar-playing Brady (Lawrence Tierney’s younger brother) gets involved, the six-shooters come out?in the hands of the ladies. Mercedes McCambridge put her penchant for evil to further good use in 1973 when she provided the devilish voice of the possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine,

Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies Rebel Without A Cause

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
What could have been merely a teen-exploitation flick became, in the hands of director Ray (perhaps the greatest screen interpreter of alienated outsiders), a timeless study of maturity formed in rebellion and tragedy. James Dean’s brooding, troubled character (along with Brando’s character in “The Wild One”, 1954) also set the stage for the countless teen pictures to follow as the restless youth of the mid-’50s defined teen culture. Dean and his family settle in Los Angeles, the latest in a series of moves driven by Dean’s delinquency. Confused by his father’s surrender to his domineering mother, Dean tries to establish himself with fisticuffs and daredevil stunts. When he meets Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo at the police station, his pursuit of Wood leads to a deadly hot-rod showdown and a tragic run from the police. In the face of pursuit by the authorities, and with no effective adults to turn to, the three form an imitation family of their own until Backus finally finds the courage to reach out to his son. Ray dignifies the story with his characteristically careful compositions and by drawing electrifying performances from his cast. Academy Award Nominations: Best Supporting Actor: Sal Mineo; Best Supporting Actress: Natalie Wood; Best Motion Picture Story.
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Dennis Hopper

Five of the Best Nicholas Ray Movies Bigger Than Life

Bigger Than Life (1956)
Star James Mason produced this dark psychodrama in which he stars as a small-town teacher who gets hooked on an experimental wonder drug. The film observes the resulting unraveling of his life. The drug causes ego inflation and soon his relationships with his wife and his son become abusive. Adapted from a New Yorker article, was director Nicholas Ray’s follow-up to his hit of the previous year, Rebel Without a Cause. Both films looked at the darker side of “normal” American life.
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast: James Mason, Walter Matthau, Christopher Olsen, Betty Caulfield, Kipp Hamilton, Rusty Lane, Barbara Rush, Robert F. Simon, Rachel Stephens, Roland Winters



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

Continue Reading


Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

Continue Reading


Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

Continue Reading

More to View