“If you want to be in good standing with the international elite film snob community, you have to be down with even the most arcane Nicholas Ray film, just like you have to swear by the coded soap-opera kitsch of Douglas Sirk. This is a non-debatable clause in the dweeb contract. It’s there because Ray was a highly skilled and passionate filmmaker, yes, but also — primarily? — because Jean-Luc Godard once wrote that ‘Ray is cinema!’, or words to that effect.
“My favorite Ray films have always been Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground and They Live By Night. Yes, I know — a boring thing to say. I’m very sorry to offend the high priests of the temple but I hated Bigger Than Life when I saw it at the Film Forum a couple of years ago, and I’ve always been ‘meh’ on Johnny Guitar.
“Ever notice how the snobs never include Ray’s 55 Days at Peking or King of Kings in their retrospectives? Or mention them in their articles? (Except for this Glenn Kenny piece.) That’s because they’re regarded as somewhat embarassing paycheck gigs and not ‘genuine’ Ray films. But I kinda like 55 Days at Peking. Ray reportedly collapsed during shooting of that Charlton Heston war-siege drama; the offshoot was that he had trouble finding work for a long time after.
“My favorite Ray moment of the ’70s? When he kicks that paint can across the loft floor in The American Friend.” — from an 8.10.11 post titled “Remnants of Ray.”
The Olive Films Bluray of Johnny Guitar is out on 8.7.12. Amazon’s page says it’ll be presented at 1.37 to 1, but you can never trust them on aspect ratios. Presumably it’ll be Furmanek-ed at 1.85 to 1, especially since it opened on May 27, 1954, or more than a year after the industry-wide 1.85 mandate.