NICHOLAS RAY by Patrick McGilligan
Kirkus Star

NICHOLAS RAY

The Glorious Failure of an American Director

KIRKUS REVIEW

A veteran biographer of film legends records the sad career arc of Nicholas Ray (1911–1979), the director of one of Hollywood’s most iconic films, Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

McGilligan (Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only, 2007, etc.), who has also written biographies of directors Altman, Cukor, Hitchcock and Eastwood, plunges into Ray’s majestic and messy story with his customary assiduousness, creating a clear and balanced portrait of a most complex man. Born Raymond Nicholas Kienzle in Wisconsin, Ray soon drifted toward community theater, then radio, then the leftist, experimental theater that flourished in his youth. One of his teachers in Chicago was Thornton Wilder, and Ray, who soon moved to Hollywood, seemed to have met and befriended (and often betrayed) just about every showbiz notable in the third quarter of the 20th century, including Elia Kazan, John Houseman, Gloria Grahame, Howard Hughes, James Dean, Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Richard Burton, Gore Vidal, Charlton Heston and myriad others. He was, temporarily, an acolyte of Frank Lloyd Wright and worked with Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger and others in the folk-music scene. Although he never had total control of a film, he still directed about 20, including some that appear on critics’ lists of notables—including They Live By NightIn a Lonely Place, On Dangerous GroundJohnny GuitarKing of Kings and others. His serial womanizing and several marriages (well chronicled here), his struggles with alcohol and drugs, his gambling addiction and his incessant tinkering with scripts all soon made him persona non grata among producers.

The sad story, well and respectfully told, of an American original struggling with procrustean politics, timorous producers and personal demons.

Pub Date: July 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-073137-3
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2011




NEW AND NOTABLE NONFICTION FOR JULY:

Nonfiction THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY by David Deutsch
by David Deutsch
Nonfiction GROWING UP AMISH by Ira Wagler
by Ira Wagler
Nonfiction INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY by Janet Reitman
by Janet Reitman
Nonfiction THE MAINE SUMMERS COOKBOOK by Linda Greenlaw
by Linda Greenlaw

MORE BY PATRICK MCGILLIGAN

NonfictionTHE GREAT AND ONLY OSCAR MICHEAUX by Patrick McGilligan
by Patrick McGilligan
NonfictionALFRED HITCHCOCK by Patrick McGilligan
by Patrick McGilligan
NonfictionCLINT by Patrick McGilligan
by Patrick McGilligan

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionAMERICAN REBEL by Marc Eliot
by Marc Eliot
NonfictionAN ARMY OF PHANTOMS by J. Hoberman
by J. Hoberman
NonfictionHOPPER by Tom Folsom
by Tom Folsom