Wednesday, October 29, 2014

306. Written on the Wind (1956)


Running Time: 99 minutes
Directed By: Douglas Sirk
Written By: George Zuckerman, from novel by Robert Wilder
Main Cast: Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Robert Keith
Click here to view the trailer

WOMEN'S WEEPIES

I have to say I'm a little proud of myself. After a vicious slump of averaging about a movie a week, this has gotta' be like my fifth or sixth movie in the past seven days and it feels good to be banging them out at such a rapid pace. It's just too bad they're not all winners...


Kyle Hadley (Stack) is the son of an oil tycoon, a boozer and a wild man with an unpredictable nature. Mitch Wayne (Hudson) is sort of like his babysitter, his childhood friend whom Kyle's father, Jasper (Keith), has always wanted Kyle to emulate. After we get past the opening credits (and that fabulous title song by The Four Aces), we get into the real meat & potatoes and see Kyle & Mitch traveling from their home state of Texas all the way to New York, simply because Kyle wants a steak sandwich. While there, Mitch picks up an executive secretary named Lucy (Bacall) and brings her to meet Kyle at the restaurant - so that if anyone asks, he can skip the part about traveling cross country to get a sandwich and just play it off as a business meeting. Kyle is immediately taken by Lucy (as was Mitch) and tries to woo her with his money, setting them up in five star digs and filling her room with flowers, not to mention the incredible view. Lucy, disgusted by the man who throws his money around, takes off in the night, but is chased after by Kyle. He professes his love for her (after only knowing her for eighteen hours - puh-lease) and bing, bang, boom - the two are married. Mitch is left in the dust, as he also had/has feelings for Lucy. It turns out that marriage was just what the doctor ordered for Kyle, as he cleans up his act, quits the booze and becomes a brand new man. Meanwhile, Kyle's sister, Marylee (Malone) is carrying her own torch for Mitch, whom she's known since they were in grade school. Mitch only looks at Marylee as a sister-type and thus, wants nothing to do with her romantically. Things get heated when the newlyweds realize they can't have children, something Kyle has always wanted.

SPOILER ALERT!


Tell me, how was Dorothy Malone not a bigger star in her time? Men had to be going APE for her back in the day! In this scene she was down to just her underwear at one point - tell me men weren't losing it!

On one hand, the cinematography is great (just peep that picture of Dorothy Malone framed in fall foliage - outstanding stuff!) which gives you something nice to look at during the course of this overblown melodrama. Oh and how about that scene where Jasper takes a tumble down the stairs. Marylee, just arriving home from a night of boozing and probably casual sex, hits her room with a bottle and blasts the stereo. Intercut with this are scenes of Jasper Hadley climbing the stairs to give his daughter a piece of his mind. All of a sudden, Jasper stops, falls backwards down the big spiral staircase and lands hard on the floor below. Up in her room, Marylee is none the wiser, now stripped down to her nightgown and kicking her feet in the air, dancing to the music. FABULOUS SCENE! Speaking of the characters, the cast is excellent too. Believe it or not, all I ever knew of Robert Stack growing up, was that he was that guy who hosted Unsolved Mysteries (he aged really well, didn't he?) and barely knew he was in other stuff as a legitimate actor. I also usually really dig Rock Hudson. If I had to make one cast change, I'd have taken out Lauren Bacall, but that's just personal preference - I realize many loved her work. I don't mean to speak ill of the recently deceased, but I just never cared for Bacall and the fact that Dorothy Malone had to play second fiddle to her here was kind of outrageous. Malone was great - both as an actress and as a beauty. I had to go back to see if I'd reviewed anything else with her and was reminded that she was also Dean Martin's love interest in Artists and Models.

I'm not usually a "car guy", but weren't the cars in this movie pretty great? That yellow one that Stack was driving at the beginning and this red one that Dorothy Malone was making all the more beautiful were quite the standout vehicles.

On the other hand, I tend to agree with whomever coined these Sirk affairs as "women's weepies" back when they were released. This is the cinematic equivalent of watching The Young and the Restless and I'm left to wonder if Sirk was the pioneer for daytime soaps? I just can't settle into these overly dramatic movies, that just seem too fake to get lost in. Also, why did Kyle have to die? I didn't like that. And not only did he die, but then the ending sees his best friend and widow driving down the highway of love, all smiles! I mean, this guy didn't do anything wrong, did he? He meets this girl and marries her (hey, he didn't know Mitch liked her) and proceeds to straighten himself out - no more booze. Then he finds out he's sterile and he loses it - but hey, if the guy always wanted kids, you can't blame him for losing it a little bit. Sure, he jumped the gun a little bit, as the diagnosis wasn't final and more tests needed to be run, but he was upset for God's sake! Okay sure, the whole thing with the gun was a bit excessive, but he was drunk, he didn't know what he was doing! That's not an excuse, but HE WAS UPSET FOR GOD'S SAKE!! Seriously though, couldn't everyone end happily ever after without having to off Stack? I went back and re-read my review of All That Heaven Allows and I had about the same opinion as I do here. Just not into these films and why Sirk's work and these overblown melodramas got rediscovered in the 70s (at a time when films were getting edgier) is beyond me.

RATING: 6/10  When in doubt, slap a '6' on it! That's what I always say. Really though, it's a film that lingers in the mundane - but I still want to see more of Dorothy Malone!

MOVIES WATCHED: 864
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 137

October 29, 2014  8:54am

5 comments:

  1. I know I've seen this.. but I also know I've seen all that heaven allows'.. and probably at least a couple of other Sirk melodramas.. but cannot for the life of me distinguish between them.
    All I can recall is lots of weeping and wailing and ringing of hands .. probably some gnashing of teeth, and a fair bit of shouting.
    More soap opera stuff? Sure.
    To be honest, I'd rather go back to Ray.. no autumn colours.. but nice wavy grass and a train.

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    1. So just to be clear, we're in agreement that I've just been cursed with a lot of bland stuff here and it's not just me?

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  2. I think so..
    Well, perhaps a slight hesitation before writing off 'Apu' as "bland" .. I'm tempted more towards not really to my personal taste..
    But then again.. I was the one who called it 'Arty soap' .. perhaps I just WANT to accept it as something better than that - because its in B&W?
    Oh I don't know.
    So, because it's nicer to agree.. heck, yes, we agree.

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    Replies
    1. Ok, maybe "bland" is harsh, but a bunch of hard to get through, sometimes boring, very *meh* movies. That is until today's offering, which I'm almost sure we'll disagree on. I'll be shocked if we dont, actually.

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  3. I only read this reply after I had posted my reply to "today's offering".
    I thought you may have thought that... Go see how accurate you are!

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