About They Live by Night

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Dreamlike, haunting, and deliriously stylish, Ray’s debut feature stars Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell as a young outlaw couple on the road, desperately attempting to flee from the police and from their own criminal pasts. The film introduced the type of existential anti-heroes that would preoccupy Ray throughout his career, rebel characters on the fringes of society and social norms set adrift from a permanent home. Later Hollywood crime films would replicate the amour fou scenario, but the visual poetry of this film remains completely unique to Ray. (Digital presentation)

Perhaps no other Hollywood director represents the concept of the auteur better than Nicholas Ray, who worked within classical studio and genre systems, and fought with producers and executives, to articulate a personal vision and signature style. Although French cinephiles writing for Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s celebrated his career, he never enjoyed mainstream critical or commercial success while making movies in the U.S. This series provides an opportunity to revisit a group of Ray’s films in the wake of his 2011 centenary and his auteurist legacy. Special thanks to Will Scheibel.

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