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NICK AT NIGHT: The Nocturnal Cinema of NICHOLAS RAY

Mention the name Nicholas Ray to the average filmgoer and you're likely to get a blank stare or maybe the possibility of vague recollection, possibly having heard the name somewhere once or twice before. Mention the same name to a well-seasoned cinephile and the response is more likely to be bowed reverence bordering on genuflection. Or, as Jean Luc Godard, avatar of the French New Wave once famously said, "Nicholas Ray IS cinema!"

Film Series Overview

This long overdue and comprehensive appreciation of one of the American cinema's most enigmatic masters -- Nicholas Ray, will focus on TEN of director's most iconic films -- films that not only helped define this brilliant auteur's thematic concerns and visual stylizations, but also catapulted his artistic reputation ever skyward: he is now accorded the same type of Hollywood glorification once only reserved for the likes of Hitchcock, Welles, and Lang. Throughout the late 40s and 1950s, Ray's films embraced a variety of genres and styles, from the noir shadings of his earliest work (THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, IN A LONELY PLACE and ON DANGEROUS GROUND) to his great Freudian western, JOHNNY GUITAR, the domestic melodramas REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and BIGGER THAN LIFE, and even a widescreen, Technicolor gangster musical, the criminally under-seen PARTY GIRL.

These films invariably dealt with deeply human emotions in a ruthlessly honest way, fairly uncommon to commercial American films of their time. Themes of loneliness and alienation dominate his best work and offer memorable performances from some of Hollywood's most important stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame, Robert Mitchum, Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, James Dean, Natalie Wood and a host of significant others will all turn up in these ten films, presented in their entirety in an environment of uninterrupted critical scrutiny on the BIG SCREEN at Cinema 21, followed by lively, in-depth discussions.

Films in this Course

These are the TEN films we'll be watching in luxurious comfort at Cinema 21 in Portland each Saturday morning at 11:00 am beginning Saturday, April 4.

  • April 4: THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948)
  • April 11: KNOCK ON ANY DOOR (1949)
  • April 18: BORN TO BE BAD (1950)
  • April 25: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
  • May 2: ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951)
  • May 9: THE LUSTY MEN (1952)
  • NO CLASS May 16
  • May 23: JOHNNY GUITAR (1954)
  • May 30: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
  • June 6: BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956)
  • June 13: PARTY GIRL (1958)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a complete program and no individual tickets/days will be sold.

Course Information

Saturdays at 11:00 am beginning April 4, 2020.

Cinema 21 616 NW 21st Ave., Portland, OR 97209

Curriculum under redevelopment.
10 weeks
Portland, Oregon
price (2)

Other Film Courses


Curriculum under redevelopment.


Elliot Lavine

Elliot Lavine has been a film programmer of national repute since 1990, both in the San Francisco Bay Area and now here in Portland. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir. He has taught film studies courses for Stanford's Continuing Studies Program since 2006.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.