Ray had ten good years, 1949 - 1958, and although he struggled a lot, not least with himself, there is an abundance of truth and beauty there. Films of great sadness and hopelessness but tinged with compassion and poetry; even though love cannot last it was still sweet while it lasted. "I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me."
Patrick McGilligan's description of The Lusty Men (1952), my favourite among Ray's films, is apt for most of his work. "Plot and genre conventions had gradually been shaved away in the scripting process; the episodic nature of the story reflected Ray's ruminative personality, its plotting was secondary to the character studies and emotional landscape."