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Rebel Without a Cause director Nicholas Ray: a glorious failure?

Screenshot of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Screenshot of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Pink Moose/Flickr

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Nicholas Ray is often thought of as the auteur's favorite director. Best known for directing Rebel Without a Cause, he had a short but significant career in the 1950s and 60s. Eventually the end of the studio system, deaths of stars James Dean and Humphrey Bogart and drug and alcohol addictions ended Ray's career. A new biography of Ray is out this week. Book critic David Kipen reviews Patrick McGilligan's Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director.

David Kipen's favorite Nicholas Ray films:

Rebel Without a Cause

In a Lonely Place

Bigger Than Life

King of Kings

When asked which Ray films to avoid, Kipen notes, "These are the ones cultists hold up as Ray triumphing in adverse circumstances... which of course he brought on himself." But, he adds, "Who am I to judge?" You be the judge of these lesser loved titles.

Wind Across the Everglades

The Savage Innocents

55 Days at Peking