Born in small-town Wisconsin in 1911, Nicholas Ray’s early experience with film came with some radio broadcasting in high school. He left the University of Chicago after a year, but made such an impression on his professor and writer Thorton Wilder that he was recommended for a scholarship with Frank Lloyd Wright, where he learned the importance of space and geography, not to mention his later love for CinemaScope. When political differences came between the seasoned architect and his young protégé, Ray left for New York and became immersed in the radical theater. He joined the Theater of Action and later the Group Theater, which is where he met his good friend Elia Kazan. Times were tough and money was tight, but Ray loved the bohemian lifestyle of the close-knit group and enjoyed one of the happiest times of his life. Anybody who met him always noted his intellect and amazing energy. During this period he, along with his fellow Theater Group members, was also active in Socialist/Communist… read more
Ray could master any genre he turned his hand to and in this instance he tackles a sweaty and claustrophobic men-on-a-mission war movie, set in the Libyan desert and shot in widescreen and monochrome. Burton and Jürgens are in conflict as the mismatched leaders of the mission to steal some important documents from the Germans. This is the film Godard was reviewing when he famously stated 'The cinema is Nicholas Ray'.
Nicholas Ray. Did Hollywood produce any other figure in whom inhered the very ethos of the struggling Artist against the System? Well, there
Top: Hot Blood. Above: Bitter Victory. Hot Blood and Bitter Victory play as part of a 15-film Nicholas Ray retrospective at New York’s Film