Films of Nicholas Ray (CFP)

Going Home: Essays on Nicholas Ray in Cinema Culture

Editors: Steven Rybin and Will Scheibel
Send 300-500 word abstract and a short author bio to Steven Rybin (
smrybin@comcast.net) and Will Scheibel (willscheibel@gmail.com); please copy both of us on the email.

Deadline for abstracts: December 1, 2010.
Deadline for final essays: November 1, 2011

We are currently accepting proposals for a new collection of essays on
Nicholas Ray, tentatively titled Going Home: Essays on Nicholas Ray in
Cinema Culture
. A university press has shown an interest in this collection.

Ray was the “cause célèbre of the auteur theory,” as critic Andrew Sarris
once put it, but unlike his senior colleagues in Hollywood such as Alfred
Hitchcock or Howard Hawks, he remains a director relatively ignored by
academic film scholarship. Marking the event of his 100th birthday, this new
anthology of critical, historical, and theoretical perspectives on his films
and work aims to revisit Ray in the wake of renewed interest in the
director, evinced by the upcoming restoration of Ray’s final film, We Can’t
Go Home Again (1976), for a re-release at the 2011 Venice International Film
Festival. Additionally, the Harvard Film Archive hosted a Ray retrospective
earlier this summer, Ray’s daughter Nikka is writing a memoir, author
Patrick McGilligan is completing a new biography, and film archivist Michael
Chaiken is at work on the sale of Ray material with New York rare book
dealer Glenn Horowitz.

The aim of this collection, therefore, is to demonstrate to academic film
studies the ongoing vitality of Ray’s cinema, to reassess his career in the
new millennium from different methodological approaches, and to consider his place within film culture at large. Essays in the book may touch on one of
the following topics, but others are welcome (historical approaches are of
particular interest):

• New readings of Ray’s classic films: They Live By Night (1949), In a
Lonely Place (1950), On Dangerous Ground (1951), The Lusty Men (1952), Johnny Guitar (1954), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Bigger Than Life (1956), Bitter Victory (1957)

• New readings of relatively ignored Ray films: Hot Blood (1955), Wind
Across the Everglades (1958), Party Girl (1958), The Savage
Innocents(1960), King of Kings (1961)

• Defenses of Ray’s disvalued or forgotten films: A Woman’s Secret
(1949), Knock on Any Door (1949), Born to Be Bad (1950), Flying Leathernecks (1951), Run for Cover (1955), The True Story of Jesse James (1957), 55 Days at Peking(1963)

• Reevaluations, reexaminations, and reinvestments in older frameworks
familiar from earlier writing on Ray (the ongoing vitality of auteurism and
mise en scène criticism to contemporary film studies and Ray scholarship,
for example)

• Ray’s career in media other than film: architecture, theater, radio, and
television

• The transnational reception of Ray’s films in Europe during the 1950s and
in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s that led to his canonization as a
‘Hollywood auteur’

• Ray in the studios, with producers John Houseman and Howard Hughes; Ray out of the studios, with producers Robert Lord, Paul Graetz, Stuart
Schulberg, and Samuel Bronston

• Ray’s abandoned projects

• The rise of youth culture and a youth market in the 1950s

• Gender, sexualities, and whiteness:
representation/identification/difference

• Screening social class

• Space: rural vs. sub/urban America

• Place: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, the backroads of Oklahoma,
“the frontier,” etc.

• Outlaws and folk heroes, celebrity, and the myth of ‘the rebel’

• Marginalized figures, victims of society, and the politics of rebellion

• Ray’s non-Hollywood films: We Can’t Go Home Again (1973-1976); The
Janitor(1974); Marco (1978)

• Film performance, stardom, and its aesthetic/social/historical contexts:
Ray’s collaborations with James Dean, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame, Robert Mitchum, Natalie Wood, James Cagney, and others

• Ray in film studies/film pedagogy; Ray as pedagogue

• Ray’s international legacy and influence on the French New Wave, as well
as on post-classical filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, Jim
Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders

• What happened to Nicholas Ray?

• Other topics are imaginable and welcome.

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