A profile in Movie Morlocks analysed Ray’s appeal from the film Nightfall:
Nobody smokes a cigarette like Aldo Ray. There’s no forethought involved. No effort to seduce or impress audiences with an exaggerated pose or gesture. Ray doesn’t have to pretend to be cool, threatening, bruised, battered or tough. He just is. And I find every unassuming gesture he makes utterly captivating. Aldo Ray has never been considered a great Hollywood actor in the traditional sense but his natural, unaffected performances often seemed to emerge from some unsettled place. You could frequently hear a genuine urgency in way he delivered his lines and his casual swagger told you he’d been around the block more than once. Whenever Ray erupted on screen it felt like you were watching a volcano explode and if you didn’t get out of the way it could easily swallow you up in a heavy flow of golden molten lava. Film historians often like to talk about the sea change that occurred in the 1950s, when actor’s like Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando brought a new kind of sincerity to Hollywood. These highly trained method actors changed the way we appreciate and understand acting today and they’ve rightfully been recognized for their accomplishments. But there were other performers that unconsciously championed a new kind of natural approach to acting. And one of them was Aldo Ray.