Ray’s second collaboration with Humphrey Bogart is a jet-black film noir whose richly autobiographical undertones and cynical portrait of Hollywood channel what was a deeply troubled period in both Bogart and Ray’s lives, with Bogart recently forced to publicly recant his outspoken opposition to the Communist witch hunts and Ray watching the disintegration of his marriage to actress Gloria Grahame. Bogart’s brilliant but heavy-drinking screenwriter looks good for the murder of a hatcheck girl until his neighbor, played, in her finest performance, by Grahame, offers herself up as his alibi. But she can’t save him from himself, and his destructive actions threaten to destroy their love affair. A palpable sense of loss and loneliness pervades this incredible film, with Grahame and Bogart gazing at each other’s apartments across an empty courtyard in a building closely modeled after the one Ray lived in when he first arrived in Los Angeles.
The High Green WallDirected by Nicholas Ray.
With Joseph Cotton, Thomas Gomez, Maurice Marsac.
US, 1954, digital video, black & white, 30 min.
Made for the General Electric Theater television series and based on a short story by Evelyn Waugh, The High Green Wall stars Joseph Cotton as an Amazon explorer who loses his way and becomes a prisoner to Thomas Gomez’s village leader. Exacting a wicked revenge on the legacy of colonialism, the village chief forces the explorer to spend the remainder of his life reading Dickens to him under threat of death. Using the isolated setting and small cast to great effect, Ray injects Waugh’s fable with earthy human touches.