The career of Nicholas Ray is almost as complex as the man himself. He worked with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, producer John Houseman, and director Elia Kazan all before he made his own first picture, They Live By Night (1948).
Ray’s film were focused on loners, rebels, outcasts. They were tragic and violent. And always seemed to push against… something.
Ray was the man behind the iconic Rebel Without A Cause and Bogart’s most searing turn on film with In A Lonely Place.
He was also an alcoholic, gambler, and drug addict. He was married four times, most notoriously to actress Gloria Grahame. Ray claimed to have come home to find Grahame in bed with his son (from a previous marriage) Tony.
Grahame and Nicholas Ray divorced in 1952.
Grahame and Tony Ray married in 1960.
He became the 2nd highest paid director in the world (after Hitchcock) and but just a few years later he would be out of work. Too many bridges burned, Ray struggled to get a movie off the ground. That’s when the opportunity to teach came around. Which brought with it the opportunity to make one more picture.
This episode of The Industry looks at what happened when legendary director Nicholas Ray went to Harpur College to teach film and turned his classes into one big film unit.
Former students Tom Farrell, Richard Bock, Leslie Levenson, as well as Nick’s daughter and author Nicca Ray, filmmaker Myron Meisel, and Harpur College’s then head of film department (and experimental filmmaker) Larry Gottheim all help tell the story of Professor Nicholas Ray and his unconventional teaching style.
Correction: Per Myron Meisel, the shooting for I’m A Stranger Here Myself took place in January 1973, not 1974.
Watch I’m A Stranger Here Myself:
You can get Nicca Ray’s memoir here:
Stevens, Brad. Libido, morality, and a broom. BFI.org.uk. May 15, 2015.
Karp, Josh. Dennis Hopper’s Mad Vision. Esquire Magazine. October 1, 2018.
Winkler, Peter L. Nicholas Ray Couldn’t Go Home Again. Los Angeles Review of Books. February 21, 2013.
Peary, Gerald. Nicholas Ray’s Restored Last Film Is A Master Class. The Boston Globe. October 30, 2011.
Canby, Vincent. Nicholas Ray: Still A Rebel With a Cause. New York Times. September 24, 1972.
Gordon, Bernard. Hollywood Exile, or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist. University of Texas Press. November 1999.
Ray, Susan. To the Viewer: On Nicholas Ray’s We Can’t Go Home Again. March 2013.