Satyajit Ray in his book Our Films, Their Films clearly described his formative years of a film director. He wrote, What I did have was long years of looking at films firstly, in my schooldays as a film fan, and later as a serious student of the cinema, reading about techniques and taking hieroglyphic notes in the darkness of an auditorium. These notes concerned cutting methods of various directors mostly American such as Ford, Carpa, Huston, Wyler and Wilder.
But unfortunately the authorities failed to organize films of all these directors. Only Huston and Wilder is there as Ray favourite. John Hustons The Maltese Falcon will be shown as Rays favourite.
But for some other reasons than cutting point, Ray always was gaga over few American directors. One such was Orson Welles. His Citizen Kane was his favourite. He liked Orson because of his unconventional film making. He wrote, In films he was trying to do what had already been done in the other parts. Welles gave expression to an urge that was essentially contemporary. Yet Welles failed to survive as an artist. Citizen Kane and Magnificent Ambersons had both had an oblique influence on future film makers.
Alfred Hitchcock was another film director whose films were keenly watched by Ray and his favourite was Rear Window. According to Ray, Hitchcock here manages to achieve the mysterious, unanalyzable quality of true works of art. To use a favourite was Billy Wilder whom he met in a Hollywood Studio. According to Ray, He seemed the most volatile and the most optimistic. It did not seem likely that his lan was caused solely by the proximity of Marilyn Monroe it must have been one of the contributory factors I thought he was rather good at mixing art and commerce Ray also grasped the art of mixing and commerce and he always wanted to make such films which will be accepted both commercially and artistically. Billy Wilders Double Indemnity will be shown as Rays favourite.
Silent movies were also very favourite of Ray. He wrote, Sound admitted bought the cinema closer to actuality. I use the word actuality in order to suggest the surface, rather than the substance is not necessarily ensured be the addition of sound or for that matter of colour. No documentary on locomotives can tells us more about them than Buster Keatons The General.
One of the first sound films, Ray saw was Lubitschs Trouble In Paradise. He wrote, It opened with a moonlit shot of the romantic Grand Canal in Venice. The inevitable gondola appeared, glided up the glistering water and, as it moved closer, turned out to be filled with garbage. The gondolier pulled up the boat infront of a villa, collected some more garbage and, at the point of rowing off, burst into an aria by Verdi. Lubtisch was all wit and elegance and innuendo, and had a permanent influence on all future makers of sophisticated comedy.
The last film is Marx Brothers A Night At The Opera. Ray said about Marxs film, if I were given the choice of one and one film to take with me to that deserted island, I would go for a Marx film without a moments hesitation.