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“It’s Never All In The Script:” Dennis Hopper on Nicholas Ray and Rebel Without a Cause

“I’m the best damn filmmaker in the world who has never made one entirely good, entirely satisfactory film,” so said Nicholas Ray, according to his friend Dennis Hopper.

In a bit for Turner Classic Movies in 1997, Hopper reflected on Ray’s work and their relationship, which began during his debut role as Goon in the filmmaker’s iconic Rebel Without a Cause. At the time, Hopper remembers thinking “that James Dean was directing [the] film, he had so much input in his character and lines, even deciding how a scene would be shot,” later to realize that Ray “gave Dean the freedom he needed…[he] was intelligent enough to let the creative forces work.” Intelligent, maybe, but also trusting and confident. Ray’s emblematic refrain was “It’s never all in the script. If it were, why make the movie?”

Hopper also touches upon Ray’s cinematic eye. Speaking over a clip from They Live By The Night, Hopper remarks of the synergy between narrative and technical framing, “[His] camera was the nervous, unstable observer, following the beautiful losers against the tapestry of society that rejects them.”

The video is an effective examination of Ray’s biography and body of work in its concise five minutes.

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