Much to my chagrin, MissG wrote:
I titled my thread deliberately. I chose to call it "Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place" for a reason. I welcome eagerly any insights into the directorial side of this film, because I am not good at picking up those things until long after repeated viewings and painful (for my blonde head) analysis.
An impressionistic view of Ray
, rather than a shot-by-shot analysis of IN A LONELY PLACE
(like you, the latter requires repeated viewings, reading, and thinking that my blonde – not gray or silver, I tell you – head isn’t up for at the moment).
A person (or persons) who:
1. Is an outsider and a loner,
2. Has a personal problem that often echoes a larger social problem,
3. Has lost something and is searching for it, and
4. Gets under the skin of the viewer, making the viewer uncomfortable.
That, to me, is a Nicholas Ray
protagonist. The first three points are not uncommon to many protagonists, but in the fourth lies Ray
’s art. Whether one likes or dislikes any particular one of his films, he simply will not allow one to be a passive viewer.
Similar to (at least in my mind) Samuel Fuller
and later-Douglas Sirk
, he takes story elements that, if merely read, would on their face be trashy. Ray
uses them to create a visceral whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Color is bright to the point of being lurid and is often coded. The screen is not static. And – especially in the case of IN A LONELY PLACE
– any possible romantic view is stripped away. In contrast to SUNSET BOULEVARD
(which I do like), another movie about a Hollywood writer and released the same year, beneath all of Wilder
’s acid, I still detect some romantic (albeit sad or tragic) notions about Hollywood. I don’t see that with Ray
One of the best known statements about Ray
was made by provocateur Jean-Luc Godard
: The cinema is Nicholas Ray.
That always struck me as standard Cahiers
crowd overstatement that is at once fun and frustrating and, quite frankly, put me off for a while in taking Ray
seriously. But recently, I read that quote in context:
There was theatre (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforth there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray.
(Review of BITTER VICTORY
, January 1958)
I think what Godard
is trying to convey is not that Nicholas Ray
constitutes the entirety of cinema (the implication of the familiar quote taken out of context), but that Ray
’s approach to film and his vision is purely cinematic, without reference to other art forms, and profoundly modern. Yeah, a stretch perhaps, but fun to consider. And, having recently seen YOU CAN”T GO HOME AGAIN
, his last film, Godard
may be right.