On Dangerous Ground (1952) Nicholas Ray (2x)
Warner Archive Blu-ray
In every Nicholas Ray film I’ve seen, there’s always an underlying darkness that emerges from within what appears to be a conventional (or more likely an unconventional) drama and that’s certainly true of On Dangerous Ground. I just started reading Nicholas Ray: An American Journey by Bernard Eisenschitz, which is a fascinating look at the director’s life and work. I haven’t gotten that far into the book, but I feel certain that loneliness and isolation play a big part in many of his films. They certainly do in this one.
Although the turnout for Monday night’s films was disappointing, it was a Monday night, and, as one of my friends reminded me, any opportunity to see these films on a large screen is an opportunity worth celebrating.
This post is part of the Beyond the Cover Blogathon running April 8-10 over at Now Voyaging and Speakeasy. I hope you’ll enjoy this post as well as the many other entries.
When you think about the time, effort and people involved in bringing a novel to the screen, it’s a wonder adaptations happen as quickly as they do, or even at all. Sometimes the process is relatively short. (Two years is pretty quick, even these days.) In extreme cases, the original creators have departed this world long before their film is ever released. Other productions fall somewhere in the middle. Edward Anderson’s novel Thieves Like Us was published in 1937 during the final years of the Great Depression, but the the story wasn’t filmed until 1947. Even after it was finished, the film sat on a shelf for two years and might have sat there even longer if not for some enthusiastic filmgoers in the UK. But timing is a strange thing, and in some cases it’s everything. Had Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night remained on the shelf, Alfred Hitchcock would likely never have seen Farley Grainger to cast him in Rope and Strangers on a Train, we probably wouldn’t have Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (at least not in the same style), and the entire canon of film noir would have been without one of its finest, most unique pictures.
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Nicholas Ray
Screenplay by Philip Yordan (Ben Maddow and Nicholas Ray, uncredited)
Based on the novel by Roy Chanslor
Cinematography by Harry Stradling
Edited by Richard L. Van Enger
Music by Victor Young
Costumes by Sheila O’Brien
Olive Films Blu-ray (1:50)
Nobody really knew what to make of Johnny Guitar when it was released in 1954. Martin Scorsese says as much in his introduction on the Olive Films Blu-ray edition of the film. Audiences “didn’t know what to make of it, so they either ignored it or laughed at it.”