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University of Texas center acquires Nicholas Ray archives

The Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archives of Nicholas Ray, the director of such classic film noirs as 1950’s “In a Lonely Place” and 1952’s “On Dangerous Ground,” and of 1955’s seminal troubled youth melodrama “Rebel Without a Cause,” which transformed James Dean into a spokesperson for his generation. The archives include scripts, storyboards and correspondence.

“There are about a dozen document boxes,” said Steve Wilson, film curator of the Harry Ransom Center. “We got it earlier this year. We were able to fast-track it into the cataloging system. We are in the final stages now and expect it to be ready for research sometime after Labor Day.”

This year marks Ray’s centenary and is being observed with his widow Susan Ray’s restoration of his 1976 film “We Can’t Go Home Again,” a collaborative effort between Ray and his film students at New York State University Binghamton, set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival; Patrick McGilligan’s new biography, “Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director”; and the American Cinematheque’s retrospective at the Egyptian and Aero theaters in August in Los Angeles. Ray died of lung cancer in 1979 while collaborating with Wim Wenders on “Lightning Over Water,” the 1980 documentary about the last days of his life.

Though not as high profile as the collections at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library, the American Film Institute and the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Harry Ransom Center over the last six decades has landed the archives of such Hollywood luminaries as director King Vidor (“The Big Parade”), “Gone With the Wind” producer David O. Selznick, “Sunset Boulevard” star Gloria Swanson, actor Robert De Niro and screenwriter-director Paul Schrader.

Among the highlights of the Ray collection is his script from the 1945 film “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” which was Elia Kazan’s first feature as a director. 

By Susan King, Los Angeles Times

(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)
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