Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nicholas Ray at Film Forum

The punch-in-the-gut style of director Nicholas Ray (pictured) is in the spotlight at NY's Film Forum, starting with tomorrow's week-long run of 1950's In a Lonely Place, a classic, sad-eyed noir with Humphrey Bogart and Ray's then-wife Gloria Grahame, followed by a two-week festival of some of his best work, including films that the likes of Scorsese, Godard, and Truffaut described as some of their favorites. I heartily concur. Some of the selections include the fast-rising cult movie Bigger Than Life, with James Mason; Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge in the indescribable, must-see Freudian Western Johnny Guitar; the affecting noir of They Live By Night and On Dangerous Ground; the colorful gangster melodrama Party Girl, with Robert Taylor and Cyd Charisse; and of course his most famous picture, Rebel Without a Cause. You can't go wrong with much of a well-culled set of choices, including a movie I've never seen, the Budd Schulberg-scripted Wind Across the Everglades, with Christopher Plummer and Burl Ives. (It was ubiquitous on syndicated TV stations back in the day, then vanished in the cable era.) Two lesser-known Rays I like: 1952's The Lusty Men, an excellent rodeo drama, with Robert Mitchum, Arthur Kennedy, and Susan Hayward, and 1957's World War II saga Bitter Victory, with Richard Burton and Curt Jurgens. Pick a few and strap in for turbulence and fireworks.

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