Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone
WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956). Director: Douglas Sirk. Producer: Albert Zugsmith.

"Lousy white trash!"

Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack), a spoiled rich son of an oil tycoon (Robert Keith), woos and weds Lucy (Lauren Bacall), oblivious to the fact that his best friend Mitch (Rock Hudson), also has feelings for her. Basically raised in the same household, Mitch, unfortunately, only has brotherly feelings for Kyle's "sluttish" sister, Marylee (Dorothy Malone), who's in love with him, and sleeps around out of self-hatred and frustration. Complications ensue when Kyle learns he might not be able to have children [one senses he wants kids more to "prove his manhood" than out of any great desire for children], yet Lucy gets pregnant. This movie may have seemed daring back in its day, but now it's dated and full of dime-store psychology. Although produced by Albert Zugsmith, it has the same glossy sheen of a Ross Hunter movie, and it looks great, with superior cinematography by Russell Metty, and first-class art direction and set decoration [from, among others, Robert Clatworthy]. The acting is okay -- Stack, with crazy eyes, gives one of his best performances and garnered an Oscar nomination -- although Malone's performance seems to consist of making painfully obvious faces and doing some sexy dancing; she does have some good moments, however. Bacall and Hudson do fine, if neither is outstanding; Robert Keith is better. Ironically, reportedly in the novel by Robert Wilder that was the source material, Stack's character was an old-fashioned "tormented homosexual," which is somewhat suggested in Stack's tortured portrayal, if never stated outright. This blatant, superficial soap opera is like a forerunner of TV's Dallas.

Verdict: Entertaining, handsomely produced junk movie that is great to look at, but there's less here than meets the eye. **1/2.

No comments: