Nicholas Ray retrospective begins July 24

Directed 'Rebel Without a Cause,' 'Bigger Than Life'

New York City's Film Forum will salute director Nicholas Ray with a 14-film retrospective, July 24 through August 6.

Born Nicholas Raymond Kienzle in Galesville, Wisconsin, Ray won a scholarship at age 16 to study drama and architecture at the University of Chicago, and would later earn a fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright. Following college, he moved to New York, where he joined Elia Kazan's Theatre of Action.

Upon moving to Hollywood, Ray was hired as an assistant for Kazan's first film, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." He made his directorial debut at RKO in 1947 with the noir classic "They Live By Night." After directing seven more pictures at RKO, Ray became a free agent and produced some of his most memorable work, including "Johnny Guitar," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Bigger Than Life." Ray's Hollywood career ended after he collapsed from nervous exhaustion on a set in 1962. Remaining in ill health for the rest of his life, Ray moved back in New York, where he lived until his death in 1979.

The festival opens on July 24 with "Bigger Than Life," starring James Mason as a cortisone-addicted schoolteacher, which critic Scott Foundas calls "one of the best, most radical, least known films of the 1950s."

Other highlights include "On Dangerous Ground," "The Lusty Men," and the rarely seen "Wind Across the Everglades." The festival was programmed by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum's director of repertory programming.