A few months ago I watched Wim Wenders' Nick's Movie/Lightning Over Water, a deeply personal tribute documentary to tyhe director Nicholas Ray, made while Ray was dying of cancer. It's often painful to watch, and it's also self-consciously artistic, as it's about the process of its own making: we see these beautifully composed shots of Wenders going to meet his friend Ray, and then Wenders shows his camera crew, shows himself discussing the documentary with Ray.
Watching Ray's On Dangerous Ground last night on TCM, I was reminded of why he Ray would appeal to Wenders generation, as he is less interested in plot than he is ambience and character. Very strong film with Robert Ryan at his maniacal best as a brutal cop who is temporarily exiled to a snowy village, where he meets a young blind woman (Ida Lupino) whose brother is involved in a killing. A strong bond develops between the two, one physically blind and one blinded by his own rage. Ray loves these trapped, frustrated souls -- like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause or Humphrey Bogart in In a Lonely Place, which could just as well have been the title of this one -- and he likes putting them in an environment which pushes them to emotional extremes, where they sometimes realize a humanity they didn't know they had.