Born Aug. 7, 1911, in Galesville, Wis., Ray studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, worked in left-wing theater and produced radio shows before landing in Hollywood. There, his initial directing job came on They Live by Night (1949), the first of a string of noir pictures he made for RKO Studios that included the Humphrey Bogart classic In a Lonely Place (1950).
After departing RKO, Ray made his two masterpieces -- the over-the-top proto-feminist Western Johnny Guitar (starring Joan Crawford) and the generation-defining Rebel Without a Cause (which starred James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood and received multiple Oscar nominations). Ray died June 16, 1979.
Just when Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) sparks up a romance with his neighbor Laurel (Gloria Grahame), the police begin to suspect him of murdering a former lover. Laurel believes Dixon's innocent, but his alibi doesn't wash with the police. As they continue to pressure Dixon, the lovebirds' relationship suffers -- and after witnessing Dixon's increasing hot-tempered behavior, Laurel suspects the police may be right.