Lonely Places, Dangerous Ground

Nicholas Ray in American Cinema

Edited by Steven Rybin & Will Scheibel

Subjects: Film Studies
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Paperback : 9781438449807, 314 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438449814, 314 pages, February 2014

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Table of contents

Introduction: Nicholas Ray and the Potential of Cinema Culture
Steven Rybin and Will Scheibel
1. Looking for Nicholas Ray
Jonathan Rosenbaum
2. Nicholas Ray: The Breadth of Modern Gesture
Joe McElhaney
3. Economies of Desire: Reimagining Noir in They Live by Night
Ria Banerjee
4. Knock on Any Door: Realist Form and Popularized Social Science
Chris Cagle
5. "I've Got the Queerest Feeling” about A Woman’s Secret and Born to Be Bad
Alexander Doty
6. Something More than Noir
Steven Sanders
7. On Dangerous Ground: Of Outsiders
R. Barton Palmer
8. Flying Leatherneacks: Colors and Characterization
Tony Williams
9. The Lusty Men and the Post-Western
Neil Campbell
10. Citizen Nick: Civic Engagement and Folk Culture in the Life and Work of Nicholas Ray
James I. Deutsch and Lauren R. Shaw
11. A Teacup and a Kiss: Staging Action in Johnny Guitar
Murray Pomerance
12. “You Can’t Be a Rebel If You Grin”: Masculinity, Performance, and Anxiety in 1950s Rock-and-Roll and the Films of Nicholas Ray
Paul Anthony Johnson
13. Places and Spaces in Rebel Without a Cause
Robin A. Larsen
14. Nicholas Ray’s Wilderness Films: Word, Law, and Landscape
Susan White
15. Bigger Than Life: Masculinity, Melodrama, and the American Dream
Will Scheibel
16. Ray, Widescreen, and Genre: The True Story of Jesse James
Harper Cossar
17. Disequilibrium, or: Love Interest (On Party Girl)
Adrian Martin
18. King of Kings and the Politics of Masculinity in the Cold War Biblical Epic
Jason McKahan
19. “As Surely as a Criminal Would Die”: Nicholas Ray’s The Doctor and the Devils
Larysa Smirnova and Chris Fujiwara
20. The Pedagogical Aesthetics of We Can’t Go Home Again
Steven Rybin
Postscript: The Class: Interview with Nicholas Ray
Bill Krohn
Nicholas Ray: Chronological Filmography
Works Cited

A range of approaches to the director's life and work.


The director of such classic Hollywood films as In a Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar, and Rebel Without a Cause, Nicholas Ray nevertheless remained on the margins of the American studio system throughout his career, and despite his cult status among auteurist critics and cinephiles, he has also remained at the margins of film scholarship. Lonely Places, Dangerous Ground offers twenty new essays by international film historians and critics that explore the director's place in the history of the Hollywood industry and in the larger institution of cinema, as well as a 1977 interview with Ray that has never before been published in its entirety in English. In addition to readings of Ray's most celebrated films, the book provides a range of approaches to his life and work, engaging new questions of his cinematic authorship with areas that include history and culture, politics and society, gender and sexuality, style and genre, performance, technology, and popular music. The collection also looks at Ray's lesser-known and underappreciated films, and devotes attention to the highly experimental We Can't Go Home Again, his recently restored final film made in the 1970s with his students at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Rediscovering what Ray means to contemporary film studies, the essays show how his films continue to possess a vital power for film history and criticism, and for film culture.

Steven Rybin is Assistant Professor of Film at Georgia Gwinnett College. He is the author of Michael Mann: Crime Auteur; Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film; and The Cinema of Michael Mann. Will Scheibel is a PhD candidate in film and media studies at Indiana University Bloomington.


"…solid essays … The selection of essays (20 in all) is remarkable … This is a successful, useful resource." — CHOICE