Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director

Author(s): Patrick McGilligan


"The cinema is Nicholas Ray". (Jean-Luc Godard). The visionary filmmaker Nicholas Ray spent his lifetime 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, Nicholas 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 for the celebration of 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" 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 sexual 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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"[A] fascinating, formidable account of a director whose life was as fraught with complications and melodrama as were his movies....Meticulously researched and gratifying, a biographical page-turner."--Library Journal (starred review)

Patrick McGilligan's biographies include the acclaimed Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only; the Edgar-nominated Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light; Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast; and George Cukor: A Double Life. The author of several New York Times Notable Books of the Year, he has also penned biographies of Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Robert Altman, and James Cagney, along with the oral history Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist (with Paul Buhle). McGilligan lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

General Fields

  • : 9780060731380
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • : It Books
  • : August 2012
  • : October 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Patrick McGilligan
  • : Paperback
  • : 1012
  • : 576