Patrick McGilligan

He died well short of his own centenary, and some who knew film director Nicholas Ray (and who tried to save him from his richly endowed self-destructiveness) were amazed he got as far as 67. But, this August 7, he would have been 100. And now, for a moment, the world seems ready to take notice and offer the chronic vagrant a home. Not that “home” has much reliability in his case. What made Nick Ray valuable and important was his living forever by night, on dangerous ground, in a lonely place.

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Short Cuts

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

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On October 28, 82-year-old screenwriter Paul Jarrico was driving to his home in Ojai, east of Santa Barbara, when his car veered off the Pacific Coast Highway and crashed into a tree. Jarrico was killed. "tragedy," read the headline in The Los Angeles Times. "crash kills hollywood blacklist victim paul jarrico the day after historic apology was made." Almost 50 years ago, Jarrico refused to tell the House Committee on Un- American Activities (huac) whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. Jarrico was, in fact, a party member, from the early '30s until 1958.

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