Photo of Nicholas Ray Nicholas Ray

In a career that spanned just over 15 years, director Nicolas Ray left an indelible mark on Hollywood with a slew of films that were utterly unique in their use of color, setting and socially aware psychological underpinnings.

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.

Nicholas Ray in They Live by Night

They Live by Night

1948 NR

When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Rope's FARLEY GRANGER), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Ben-Hur's CATHY O'DONNELL), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie's fellow outlaws, who aren't about to let him go straight, they realize there's nowhere left to run.

  • Nicholas Ray in Rebel Without a Cause: Special Edition Rebel Without a Cause: Special Edition
  • Nicholas Ray in In a Lonely Place In a Lonely Place
  • Nicholas Ray in Johnny Guitar Johnny Guitar
  • Nicholas Ray in Flying Leathernecks Flying Leathernecks
  • Nicholas Ray in The American Friend The American Friend
  • Nicholas Ray in On Dangerous Ground On Dangerous Ground
  • Nicholas Ray in Bitter Victory Bitter Victory
  • Nicholas Ray in They Live by Night / Side Street They Live by Night / Side Street
  • Nicholas Ray in Macao Macao
  • Nicholas Ray in Bigger Than Life Bigger Than Life
  • Nicholas Ray in James Dean: Sense Memories James Dean: Sense Memories
  • Nicholas Ray in The True Story of Jesse James The True Story of Jesse James
  • Nicholas Ray in Nick's Film  Lightning Over Water Nick's Film Lightning Over Water