Lie to me. Tell me all these years you've waited...
June 18, 2004 10:06 AM   Subscribe

The poet of nightfall Twentyfive years ago, film director Nicholas Ray died in New York. Like Jacques Tati and Samuel Fuller, Ray did a lot of living before he ever got around to filmmaking: he was of part of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Fellowship, a devotee of southern folk music, an avant-garde theatre director. He had made Rebel Without a Cause and survived James Dean, and the title of the film seemed to dramatise his terrible, self-destructive battles with Hollywood. His films (They Live By Night, In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground, Johnny Guitar, The Savage Innocents, King of Kings) were in love with imprisoned life, but the dark edge of mourning was always there, too. He was idolised by the young Cahiers du Cinema critics who would become the directors of the New Wave. François Truffaut once noted: "There are no Ray films that do not have a scene at the close of day; he is the poet of nightfall, and of course everything is permitted in Hollywood except poetry." Contrasting Ray and Howard Hawks, he added: "But anyone who rejects either should never go to the movies again, never see any more films". Jean-Luc Godard offered another sweeping panegyric: "There was theatre (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforth there is cinema. And cinema is Nicholas Ray. These days, lucky Chicagoans can admire one of Ray's greatest works, Bitter Victory -- the film about the dangerous games men play with macho self-images... (more inside)
posted by matteo (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What a post!
posted by jazzkat11 at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2004

"Amère victoire" is a forgotten gem of anti-war cinema -- as Jonathan Rosenbaum explains, it makes us "recognize that war isn't just a real activity with real consequences but a playing out of infantile and macho fantasies. And so we all become like Leith, who's trapped in his own rhetoric, or like Brand, who feels so hollow about the medal he's been handed that he pins it on a dummy".

Ray, of course, was so in love with cinema that even his dying became a movie -- Wim Wenders' heartbreaking Lightning Over Water

Ray actually died on June 16 -- I planned to post this then, but again, I couldn't. so, three days late, here it is


Derek Malcolm quotes in the Guardian one of my favorite scene in the history of cinema.
From Ray's Johnny Guitar:

Johnny: How many men have you forgotten?

Vienna: As many women as you've remembered.

Johnny: Don't go away.

Vienna: I haven't moved.

Johnny: Tell me something nice.

Vienna: Sure. What do you want to hear?

Johnny: Lie to me. Tell me all these years you've waited...

Vienna: All these years I've waited.

Johnny: Tell me you'd have died if I hadn't come back.

Vienna: I would have died if you hadn't come back.

Johnny: Tell me you still love me like I love you.

Vienna: I still love you like you love me.
posted by matteo at 10:21 AM on June 18, 2004

Anthony Lane, instead, thinks that

All of Ray can be boiled down to a single word from “In a Lonely Place.” Humphrey Bogart plays a Hollywood screenwriter who is suspected of killing a hat-check girl. The morning after the crime, he is visited by a cop, a friend who fought beside him in the war, and who now comes bearing news:

“You know I got married.”

posted by matteo at 10:23 AM on June 18, 2004

What a fantastic post! Don't forget Bigger Than Life -- a movie that is long overdue on VHS & DVD!
posted by chrisgrau at 10:24 AM on June 18, 2004

awesome wow! bravo :D
posted by kliuless at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2004

First-class postage.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2004

matteo, this is good, but yesterday's was great. Feeling the pressure to top yourself, no? Remember, it's not the size, but how you use it.
posted by soyjoy at 10:45 AM on June 18, 2004

Feeling the pressure to top yourself, no?

no, not really -- as I explained above, this thread was meant to be posted three days ago, on the anniversary of Ray's passing -- hence you were supposed to see it before I even posted the Tolstoy/Gandhi thread.
I couldn't post Ray's thread on the day I wanted to, so I almost threw it away.
the .txt file with this post's html material was already meant to go to my "trash" basket. then at the last minute I decided to keep it because I like Ray so much and no fucking traditional media outlet remembered his passing these week. and it just didn't feel right, because he is an American master and deserved at least this little, almost invisible Valentine.

and to answer your question, I don't feel any pressure. I don't think I ever did, because this is not a contest. Once I let eleven months pass between front page posts.
eleven months -- certainly I don't feel "pressure" now, after three years and a half here on MeFi.

posted by matteo at 11:01 AM on June 18, 2004

Nick Ray is a hero, thanks.
Johnny Guitar is a brilliant, brilliant classic as is in a lonely place.

"What's eatin the fancy man?"
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2004

Just teasin', matteo. It's a good post, but I don't know if I'll ever have the time to get through all of it.
posted by soyjoy at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2004

This post is luscious. Will savor later, when I get home from work.
posted by iconomy at 12:31 PM on June 18, 2004

Did you know that Johnny Guitar was recently made into a flop Off-Broadway musical? (Note the sidebar links on that article; a cast album is coming soon.) See also's take on it.

Fave quote: Bookwriter van Hoogstraten told Playbill On-Line the show is arch, but not camp. "You're gilding the lily if you make it camp."
posted by Asparagirl at 1:39 PM on June 18, 2004

what a fine post you, you...Mr. Matteo
loved 'Johnny Guitar'....hey, did ya know Sterling Hayden ran guns to Yugoslav Partisans for the OSS in the big one?
posted by clavdivs at 11:31 PM on June 18, 2004

yeah, that's where he fell in love with Communism, Yugoslavia -- then he had to rat out his buddies to avoid the blacklist... poor mr. Hayden... what an actor, really. beloved by Kubrick, Houston, Altman, Ray, Coppola, Bertolucci... all the best ones
posted by matteo at 10:21 AM on June 19, 2004

I disagree, he did not "have to" do anything. He made a choice, like risking his life to help a good cause. To bad a fine thread like this only gets a handful of comments and then it devolves into

yeah, that's where he fell in love with Communism, Yugoslavia -- then he had to rat out his buddies to avoid the blacklist

But i see your point.....oh, he ran an MU group from the OSS section concerning sabotage, do you think he was a terrahist?
posted by clavdivs at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2004

only gets a handful of comments
well, what's your favorite X threads get 200 comments, that fact does not make them good anyway.

he did not "have to" do anything
people are weak. not everybody is strong enough to do the right thing, and go to jail / have one's own life destroyed to protect one's friends.
what would I have done? I wish I could tell you I'd have followed Sam Wanamaker to England. I just don't know and hope I never have to make that choice.
I'm just happy Hayden kept working. Kazan too.

btw if you hadn't removed your damn email addy from your userpage, we wouldn't need to use the thread itself to have this conversation
posted by matteo at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2004

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