In the 1950s and early 1960s, Nicholas Ray directed big-budget Hollywood films that rarely had anything to do with the mainstream American cinema of the day. He held a position on the inside track of Hollywood for well over a decade despite having major alcohol and drug problems. Ray's second wife, the Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame, had an affair with Ray's son from his first marriage and later married him. Ray was a loose cannon, unpredictable on the set, and was fired from a number of “Nicholas Ray” films.
In spite of that, Ray is one of the 20th century's most influential directors. This year marks his 100th birthday, and the Castro Theatre honors this Hollywood maverick with a pair of double features this week: Rebel Without a Cause and Bigger than Life on Wednesday, and In a Lonely Place and Party Girl on Thursday.