A Woman’s Secret

Written and produced by the esteemed Herman Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane), Ray’s second feature for RKO concerns aging, cosmopolitan singer Marian (Maureen O’Hara), who takes the bratty, unpolished upstart Susan (Gloria Grahame) under her wing in an attempt to jumpstart Susan’s career as a performer. When Susan, shot in the chest, turns up at the hospital, all signs point to Marian. The film, told through a series of increasingly tense flashbacks, is a great example of Ray’s directorial promise that would fully flower in subsequent films; his “signature use of staircases and overhead shots to represent conflict is already evident, as is his incredible talent with actors.”—Harvard Film Archive.

Genres: Drama, Noir

Other Films by Nicholas Ray

Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar

Widely cited as an allegory for the anti-Communist hearings overseen by the House Un-American Activities Committee that led to the Hollywood blacklist of 1955, Johnny Guitar is one of the fiercest Westerns ever made. Vienna (an unforgettable Joan Crawford), a saloon owner in a small Arizona town, walks a fine line between the conservative townsfolk,

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We Can’t Go Home Again

In 1971, Ray, at the invitation of experimental filmmakers Larry Gottheim and Ken Jacobs, took a teaching post at SUNY Binghamton in the fledgling film production department. The major project to come out of the period is this film, an experimental meta-narrative centering on a teacher (Ray) and his students (played by his real-life students),

lightning-over-water

Lightning Over Water

Ray, dying of cancer, fought hard to make this last film, a document of his final days in New York City. Wenders, by then a close friend of Ray’s, comes to New York after being on location shooting a noir in Los Angeles. What follows is Ray, with Wenders’ tender assistance, reminiscing about his life

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King of Kings

King of Kings, Ray’s second film for MGM, is truly his “epic” (featuring narration by Orson Welles!), a lavish historical ensemble drama chronicling the life of Jesus Christ (Jeffrey Hunter), but still very much a Ray film in its intimate focus on individual crises. The film’s main temporal focus is the lead-up to Jesus’ crucifixion,

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Party Girl

A latter-day mob tale made for glamorous MGM—ironic, at that most softboiled of studios—Ray follows the gritty gangster classics of the 1930s by crafting the center of Party Girl’s story on mafia lawyer Thomas Farrell (Robert Taylor), who has a sterling record defending crooks and murderers. Farrell, in the course of his work for archetypal