The visionary filmmaker Nicholas Ray spent the glory years of his career creating films that were dark, emotionally charged, and haunted by social misfits and bruised young people consumed by private anguish. Notoriously self-destructive, even in his youth, Ray empathized with the broken and misunderstood - the alcohol, drugs, and rage that ate away at his core translated into characters with unrivaled depth on-screen. Beloved by critics, peers, and audiences alike, Ray created a vision of the modern teenage experience with "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) and reinvented the western with "Johnny Guitar" (1954). Yet, in one of the most dramatic Hollywood stories on record, Ray's meteoric rise to fame was rivaled only by his dramatic fall from grace. Now, in time to mark Ray's 100th birthday, preeminent American film biographer Patrick McGilligan offers the first comprehensive, full-length biography of Nicholas Ray - a man whose troubled life was punctuated by moments of creative genius. Meticulously detailed, yet compulsively readable, "Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director" delves into Ray's fascinating life story in and out of the spotlight - from his small-town roots in Galesville, Wisconsin, to his four marriages, drug and alcohol addictions, his intimate relationships with actors (including both James Dean and Natalie Wood), and his ultimate banishment from the Hollywood community that helped foster his growth as a director. Thirty-one years after his death, Nicolas Ray's body of work remains as a celebrated testament to the troubled director's struggle to create meaning from an otherwise shattered existence. In this unparalleled look into the dark moments of Ray's history and secrets of his creative process, Patrick McGilligan tells the full captivating story of an American film great.
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McGilligan is certainly fastidious. It's unlikely that youll find a more detailed account of Ray's professional life, or the broader practice of filmmaking in Fifties Hollywood, with all its depressing concessions to the whims of studio moguls, spoilt stars and the perceived morality of the era. --The Independent, 31st July 2011From the Back Cover:
Nicholas Ray spent the glory years of his career creating films that were dark, emotionally charged, and haunted by social misfits and bruised young people—from his career-defining debut, They Live by Night, to his enduring masterwork, Rebel Without a Cause, with James Dean; from the noir thriller In a Lonely Place, pairing his wife Gloria Grahame with Humphrey Bogart, to the cult classic Johnny Guitar, a campy showcase for the tempestuous Joan Crawford. Yet his work on-screen is more than matched by the passions and struggles of his personal story—one of the most dramatic lives of any major Hollywood filmmaker.
In Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director, Patrick McGilligan offers a revelatory biography of Ray, a self-destructive man whose troubled life was marked by creative peaks and valleys alike. From carousing with musicians such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie to romancing starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, Shelley Winters, and a teenage Natalie Wood, Ray's story is irresistibly alluring. Meticulous and compulsively readable, this is an extraordinary life of one of the most fascinating figures in American film.
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