The beginning of Sirk’s glorious late period of overblown technicolor melodramas, two years before the even wilder Written on the Wind. This one has a loonier plot, though – adapted from a cheap Christian novel with a romance veneer written by a pastor, which Sirk hated: “I tried to read it, but I just couldn’t. It is the most confused book you could imagine.”

Starts out loony as hell and stays that way. Dreamboat millionaire Rock Hudson is running dangerous stunts on his motorboat, crashes, and the only respirator in town is brought out to save him… meanwhile, extremely giving and well-loved Doctor Phillips (who has a secret society of people he has helped with no charge) has an attack, needs the respirator, drops tragically dead. Rock sees Phillips’ hot widow Jane Wyman (Reagan’s ex-wife!) and tries to get with her… but he is too forward, and it is too soon, so she runs into traffic to escape him and goes blind. Blind! Rock, who almost graduated from medical school some years ago, goes back, graduates and fixes her eyes (and saves her life) for a happy ending. There’s more to it, but hey, I’ll watch it again sometime.

J-L Bourget in Bright Lights: “The earlier, implicit and scandalous equation of the two men is, by the end of the film, both explicit and exemplary – that is, according to the film’s apparent standards. Bob Merrick is now a famous surgeon, a philanthropist, Randolph’s best friend, Helen’s husband: everything that Wayne Phillips was.”

Written and/or adapted by ten people, including Robert Blees (High School Confidential), and shot by master Russell Metty (Touch of Evil, Spartacus, Bringing Up Baby and a bunch more by Sirk). Also stars Barbara Rush (It Came From Outer Space) as Jane’s suspicious-then-enabling daughter, early Welles collaborator Agnes Moorehead as a nurse with a thing for Rock, Otto Kruger (Dracula’s Daughter) as an artist/doctor/conspirator, and Paul Cavanagh (Secret Beyond the Door, Bride of the Gorilla) as Rock’s med professor.

Lovely, wide, technicolor movie, more womany and less transparently ironic than Written on the Wind. One of Katy’s all-time faves, but she considers it a nostalgic guilty-pleasure chick-flick and she is very suspicious that I liked it too. She suspects that I’m in secret collaboration with the Criterion Collection and film critics everywhere to make fun of her.

Holy awesome, an incredible movie. The actors are OUT there, Rock Hudson all repressed, Dorothy Malone all seething sexuality, Robert Stack extreme in everything he does, and poor Lauren Bacall ping-ponging all over the place. The sweeping style announces itself right at the start with the best windstorm since David Copperfield, a speeding car and gunshots (movie starts at the end, just like all movies do today). Tons of over-the-top comic moments that had our appreciative audience chuckling (or howling, as in the ending when Malone suggestively strokes a phallic oil-well model while thinking about Rock).

Apparently based on the death of RJ Reynolds’ son. Robert Stack, fresh off Sam Fuller’s House of Bamboo (and doesn’t this movie display some Fuller-esque drama) plays the son and ROCK is his hard-working best-bud wingman. Rock (in the middle of a streak of Sirk films) is tied to Stack’s family but would like to get out and do something for himself. Dorothy (Artists and Models, Colorado Territory) is Stack’s spoiled, slutty sister who has always been in love with Rock. And Lauren (The Big Sleep, etc) is a hot thing first noticed by Rock but violently wooed away and married by Stack. The less-than-proud father of the big oil family is Robert Keith (Lt. Brannigan in Guys and Dolls).

When Lauren can’t conceive, Stack’s penis is blamed and in shame he turns to wild drinking and loutish behavior. Rock’s and Dorothy’s pent-up love issues can’t be contained and the thing explodes into a violent, windy passion when Stack beats his wife causing her to lose their baby (which he believes is Rock’s), and Dorothy accidentally shoots her brother in a fight. Closing court scene gives a somewhat believable happy ending (Dorothy has a chance to lock up Rock, but she proves herself an alright gal by setting him free).

Movie is gorgeous and wonderful. Sirk called it “a film about failure”. Laura Mulvey says the film “responds to these failures and frustrations by crowding the screen with answering images from the overtly Freudian to flamboyantly cinematic lighting, color and decor.” At oscar time, Dorothy Malone won best supporting actress, Robert Stack was beaten by Anthony Quinn, and Rock was nominated for Giant instead.

Mulvey again, on the greatest part of the movie:

In one of the film’s key moments, she performs a wild solo dance of rebellion in her bedroom. As her loud, jazzy music fills the house, her father slowly climbs the sweeping staircase, only to collapse and fall to his death. With Sirk’s instinct for melodrama (in the literal sense of music plus drama), the intercutting between the spaces occupied by father and daughter quickens to create an innovative, cinematic rhythm for a montage sequence that was rare in studio-system Hollywood.

Feb 2017: Watched it again with Katy, who was impressed and disturbed by all the psychology on display and isn’t sure what to think about this Sirk fella anymore.

“Stop being melodramatic” – Harry Wesson to Jenny Marsh… in a Douglas Sirk movie!

Did I even have to be told that Samuel Fuller wrote this, when the lead character is named Griff?

Jenny Marsh (Patricia Knight, Cornell Wilde’s wife of 14 years, career fell apart after their divorce soon after this movie came out) is a bad girl just out of jail. She went there covering for her boyfriend Harry Wesson (John Baragrey, appealingly slimy, pretty much a TV actor except for this movie). Gets out and meets parole officer Griff Marat (Cornell Wilde, kinda big star in the 40’s). Trouble ensues.

To keep an eye on the girl, Griff naively hires her to live/work at his house and care for his blind mother. She still visits Wesson on the side and schemes to fake falling in love with Griff to corrupt him and ease her situation. But of course they really fall in love, and she shoots Wesson in a struggle. She’s back in trouble, and Griff will be in trouble if he’s found out for marrying a parolee, so they escape to an oil town to start a new life (leaving behind blind mom and super-irritating younger brother). “But the strain of poverty and fear of apprehension begin to corrode” and they turn themselves in. In a suspiciously happy twist ending, a recovering Harry Wesson lets them both off the hook and they live happily etc.

Tight little 80-minute noir drama. I don’t know much about Sirk, but the Fuller element is there in traces. Fuller’s own debut, I Shot Jesse James, came out the same year.

IMDB reviewer points out: “The title, by the way, seems basically meaningless but to have been chosen for its purely abstract, noirish resonance.”