When churlish, spoiled rich man Bob Merrick foolishly wrecks his speed boat, the rescue team resuscitates him with equipment that's therefore unavailable to aid a local hero, Dr. Wayne ... See full summary »
A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
When churlish, spoiled rich man Bob Merrick foolishly wrecks his speed boat, the rescue team resuscitates him with equipment that's therefore unavailable to aid a local hero, Dr. Wayne Phillips, who dies as a result. Phillips had helped many people, and when Merrick learns Phillips' secret, to give selflessly and in secret, he tries it in a ham-handed way. The result further alienates Phillips' widow, Helen, with whom Merrick has fallen in love. Merrick's persistence causes another tragedy, and he must remake his life, including going back to medical school, in an attempt to make amends and win her love. Written by
Douglas Sirk is known as the melodrama man,but all his movies are not exactly what we call melodrama:"All that heaven allows" and"tarnished angels" are closer to realist stories;"A time to love and a time to die" transcends melodrama to become a tragedy.Three major movies seem to belong to the genre:"written on the wind" "imitation of life " and of course this one."Magnificent obsession " has a plot so unlikely,so incredible that,in the hands of a lesser talent,it would have gathered nothing but horse -laugh:The beginning of the film is a succession of coincidences and combinations of circumstances so improbable you wonder whether Sirk will get away with it.Against all odds,he succeeds in this absurd task.Someone tells the hero that the one who devotes his life to others has chosen the rocky road,someone has been crucified for that.But once he has begun,this task will obsess him,and it's a magnificent obsession.So the selfish hero will undo the harm he's done . It's a double feat:Hudson's struggle is moving and Sirk ,who goes for broke,pulls off this extravaganza with panache.
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