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Magnificent Obsession More at IMDbPro »

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Jeff Chandler was right about this one...but it is still worth seeing.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
21 March 2015

According to IMDb, Jeff Chandler declined to star in this film as he found the script to be 'too soppy'. Well, after having seen it, I would definitely agree that this movie is a soppy soap opera...but it is also watchable in spite of this.

The film was first made back in 1935 and starred Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne. It's every bit as good as this 1950s version, though the 50s version is a bit stickier and glossier thanks to the direction of Douglas Sirk. It's a completely ridiculous story about a selfish playboy who eventually falls for a blind lady who he's wronged. Sounds confusing? See the film and see what it's all about.

The bottom line is that the actors do a fine job and the director makes about as good a version of the film as possible given the silliness and stickiness of the dialog. Not a terrible movie at all but it gets low marks for realism, that's for sure.

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Author: Armand from Romania
17 April 2014

an old story. using not new themes. but beautiful for the good science to explore and use elements for common melodrama. and the basic virtue is science for choose the right cast.and for the charm of gentle performance who preserves the flavor of romance but transforms a classic romance in a not bad lesson about noble purpose of life. a film who seduce. for the acting as ladder to a different manner for present the story and its pieces. sure, Rock Hudson is master for translate his character metamorphose, Otto Kruger - ideal guru and Jane Wyman gives grace, force and precision to her role. but that is only a way. the viewer seems see a different by a long and powerful tradition. and that is really important.

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A Hunter/Sirk Production That's Stretches Your Imagination

Author: JLRMovieReviews from United States
18 September 2013

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman star in Magnificent Obsession, a remake of an Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor film. Both movies in fact catapulted their male stars into stardom. Before their respective films, neither Hudson or Taylor had been a household name. I am not prepared to discuss the differences, as I haven't seen the older version recently. But in this film, Rock plays an obnoxious, rich, and reckless bachelor, known for his frivolous lifestyle and his lack of regard for anyone else. When a skiing accident causes him to need a resuscitator, one is taken from the home of local doctor, who has it for a heart condition, and therefore it is not at the house when the kind doctor has a heart attack. Therefore the life of a self-absorbed bachelor was saved, instead of a doctor who saves lives. This point is brought up 4 or 5 times in the first 30 minutes. When he tries to apologize to the doctor's widow, Jane Wyman, another accident happens. From there on, it swerves into left field and goes beyond the point of no return with developments and contrivances to prolong the film and defy logic. To explain any details would be too exacting. But for all the grade-A production values that producer Ross Hunter and director Douglas Sirk use in retelling this story, basically I just don't buy it, or buy into it. I think the far-fetchedness of it is what I don't buy, plus some of its over-the-top acting and dramatics and corny dialogue in parts. Most of the acting I'm referring to Barbara Rush's performance as Jane's stepdaughter, in the first half of the film. But, Ms. Wyman's performance was very restrained and she was Oscar-nominated for it. And, Rock gives a very earnest try in his performance. In the commentary of this film, they mention that "Written on the Wind," another Hunter/Sirk film, is regarded as the most overblown film of theirs, but I think this has to be the second. Then, there's the philosophy of the kind doctor, in helping his patients and asking nothing in return for it and to keep it secret. While this is basically a Christian attitude that should be more prevalent today, it doesn't come across as real or genuine here; instead it comes across as forced and hokey. Otto Kruger is a believer of it and was a good friend of the deceased, and thought he was a wonderful man. And, character actress Agnes Moorehead's presence gives the film a little more credence. With all these comments thrown in, where are we now? I felt overall that the film was artificial and manipulative and therefore I was not emotionally invested in the characters; in consequence I don't think it's the great film it's purported to be. But I will give it a '7' (I think I'm being kind for doing so) for good actors on the whole who weren't given a very credible story for the viewers to accept.

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Why, Man? It's already been Dunne!

Author: mark.waltz from United States
24 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Because now we've got Technicolor, Widescreen, Ross Hunter, Douglas Sirk, and more importantly, Rock Hudson. He takes on the practically impossible task of playing this sinner-to-saint transformation, and almost makes it work, if not totally. Jane Wyman lacks the youthful effervescence of Irene Dunne from the original, but gives a beautifully restrained performance nonetheless. Otto Kruger expands on Ralph Morgan's role of the artist (here a painter instead of a sculptor) who expresses the film's moral.

This being a soap opera like premise, it is more than appropriate that the film focuses on two "Guiding Light's", Kruger and the compassionate nurse, played her by Agnes Moorehead who fortunately gets to be somewhat tough in her duties, yet kindly compassionate under that Endora red hair of hers. Barbara Rush adds some more layers to the sweetness of her stepdaughter character.

Hudson and Wyman at first seem an odd couple to be paired with in a spiritual secret storm mean to give the matinée ladies a good cry away from the daily viewings of "Love of Life" and "Search For Tomorrow", and the film rises above the stories clichés. Made on the success of another film version of a Lloyd C. Douglas novel ("The Robe"), this takes the life lesson of being kind and helpful to strangers without expecting anything back in return to a modern level. It utilizes beautiful locations and a lush musical score to flesh out its already melodramatic tale. In an era of exotic beauties like Monroe, Taylor, Loren and Lollobrigida (or down home girls like Doris Day), Wyman's box-office success with this is a nice reflection on the 1950's environment where a box in a living room was sometimes keeping people from going to the movies, except, like in the case of this movie, when they really had something worth going to.

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All an Imitation of Heaven Can Endure

Author: Holdjerhorses from United States
17 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Magnificent Obsession" is Douglas Sirk's rehearsal for "All That Heaven Allows" and "Imitation of Life." The story (from Lloyd Douglas' novel) is a ludicrous drug-store romance with a smarmy tinge of Woolworth spirituality that DARES you not to take all this seriously.

Through a series of unintentionally tragi-comic coincidences, Rock Hudson gamely goes from rich bad selfish playboy to -- what else? -- selfless neurosurgeon who saves the sight and life of the comatose woman he loves, eight years his senior.

Oh, for the days when doctors and patients offered each other cigarettes in their offices: When even small out-of-the-way hospitals out West were staffed with full orchestras and choirs stationed just outside OR.

The actors are fine. Particularly Wyman and Moorehead, who somehow make their impossible lines sound genuine. Sirk's direction, design and cinematography are, as usual, outstanding. But the script is insurmountable.

One tries and tries to go with the implied emotions of these contrived situations, but succumbs to chuckling disbelief with every ham-handed twist.

Thankfully, all was redeemed just one year later, when the major players returned in the superlative, "All That Heaven Allows." Followed, four years after THAT, by Sirk's incomparable masterpiece of the genre, "Imitation of Life."

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A quest for lost redemption and understanding.

Author: bobsgrock from United States
24 June 2011

Douglas Sirk is often praised some 50 years after his career ended for being one of the most subversive and bittersweet of Hollywood directors of the 1950s. Born in Germany, he began his film career in the German cinema, only to flee when the Nazis took control. By the mid 1940s, he was a full-fledged Hollywood director assigned by studios to churn out as many films as possible. However, even after all these years, it is clear that like fellow immigrant directors Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch, there was a dark undertone in all of Sirk's works that continues to amaze today.

The first of Sirk's most well-known films was Magnificent Obsession, a glossy Technicolor melodrama that on the surface appears to be as soapy and exploitative as any daytime television drama. However, many critics and scholars in recent years have instructed us to look closer, to try and understand the hidden meanings and undertones of such a story. Clearly, it is obvious that Sirk used such a decor and platform as that was what he was given to work with. Melodramas were becoming quite popular in the 1950s, this itself being a reflection of the growing artifice and superficial decadence that would come to characterize postwar America. Sirk, being a European immigrant, would know and recognize this better than almost anyone. Therefore, he brilliantly used American settings, characterizations and story lines to subject to American audiences the very ideas and social graces he saw through. Just as expected, people fell for the bait and came in droves to witness what they though was simply a tearjerker exploring the relationship between a spoiled rich playboy and a well-meaning widow of a revered doctor.

Though it may be impossible to truly grasp all of Sirk's secrets after just one viewing, it seems to me that one of the critiques most notable here is the motivation these characters possess. Another reviewer described this film as a quest for spirituality. Redemption and understanding may also be added to this list as nearly all of these characters attempt to find consolation and faith in things that reflect their own artificial emotion and feelings. Do any of these characters truly have a moral center that guides their everyday actions? Or are they simply living out of guilt, fear, jealousy and self-loathing? These are loaded questions to be sure, but the more I write the more I am convinced that Magnificent Obsession is a loaded film.

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One of the great fifties American melodramas

Author: robert-temple-1 from United Kingdom
19 February 2011

It would be impossible to overestimate the impact this film had on Middle America when it was released in 1954. Apart from the fact that it contained no sex, violence, or horror, so that the entire family could see it together, it was a heady mixture of deep ethical message with extreme romantic melodrama. The film was based on the 1929 best-selling novel of the same title by the Rev. Lloyd C. Douglas (1877-1951), a retired Lutheran minister whose other novel 'White Banners' was made into the first Cinemascope picture the year before, THE ROBE (1953), a corny religious epic about early Christianity starring Victor Mature which was one of the most financially successful movies of all time, and which had hundreds of people queuing round several blocks in cities all over America for several weeks and clamouring to get in. This contemporary, as opposed to historical, story had the good fortune to be directed by Douglas Sirk, the mysterious German refugee from Hitler who immersed himself so deeply in Americana and the minutiae of his New Land that he nearly suffocated from it. This film starred 'the hunk', the tall and muscular leading man Rock Hudson, with whom millions of American women were secretly in love, not one of them suspecting for an instant that he was a wildly promiscuous gay with no interest in women whatsoever. (That was in the days when film studios could keep things like that secret.) The leading lady was Jane Wyman, whose snub nose would not go down well today but then nobody minded. She plays the role very well except that she is only mediocre at pretending to be blind, which she had to be for part of the story. It is very difficult indeed to pretend to be blind, and many actresses have not pulled it off at all well. I am inclined to think the best portrayal of a blind girl on screen was by my very dear and deeply lamented friend Biff Hartmann (1943-1987), in A PATCH OF BLUE (1965), which won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Jane Wyman offscreen was a very pleasant, chatty and emotionally needy and insistent person. I never knew her personally but I knew someone who had an involvement with her in the mid-1940s when she was already married to Ronald Reagan, and at that time when transcontinental phone calls were tedious, she thought nothing of phoning New York from California five times a day until she could get through to the man and talk herself back into a state of comfort and hear a few new jokes. The implication I suppose is that she had a tendency when alone to lapse into depressions, and compulsively picking up the phone was her remedy. In this film, Wyman's step-daughter is played by Barbara Rush, aged 27, who does a remarkably fine job of it, with numerous gradations of feeling and a particular delicacy which most actresses would not have brought to what was on paper a rather boring role. This film had originally been made in 1935 with Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. The underlying basis of the film is the concept of 'secret giving'. Ostensibly, this takes its origin from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, 1-4, which speaks of not flaunting your good works. However, the concept of 'secret giving' is a Masonic one. Being a Freemason myself, I can assure those who are not that the main purpose of British and American Freemasonry is charitable giving. At least 90% of this is anonymous, in the sense that the public has no idea that the funding comes from the Masons. Most of the money goes to schools, hospitals, and other worthy social and medical causes. The sums involved are often very large indeed. Freemasonry does not mention Jesus or the New Testament, so that it has Jewish and Muslim as well as Christian and atheist members. Masonry does however have a considerable Old Testament component in that there is a rather obsessive preoccupation with Solomon's Temple and its architecture. God is always spoken of as 'the Great Architect of the Universe', and never as 'God'. In that way, 'God', 'Jehovah', 'Zeus', 'Jupiter', 'Allah' and the others are all equally accommodated; indeed, one could even construe the Great Architect as either an impersonal force (i.e. not an old man with a white beard or even a 'being') or even a natural principle rather than any kind of a personality resembling humans. For instance, the Great Architect could just as well be what the ancient Egyptians called 'Maat', which means the all-pervasive 'cosmic order' of which their 'gods' were all considered to be merely facets and aspects. Essentially unaware of the Masonic origin of the 'secret giving' preached very quietly and unobviously in this film through the character of Edward Randolph (played to perfection by Otto Kruger), and of its ability to put the secret giver into direct touch with 'the source of infinite power' and transform him, the millions of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others who flocked to this film with their families all over the heartlands of America accepted it as the essential Christian message of charity combined with self-effacement. I know for a fact that many people had their lives changed and their personalities transformed simply by watching this movie. That may sound fantastic today, but one must remember that television was still in its infancy, a tiny black and white flickering image with no power to overwhelm, and so for the really 'big experiences' in entertainment, people still relied upon the big screen of the cinema to be deeply moved. Social and cultural historians need to be aware of these key films which changed America. The story of this film is very over-the-top and much of its plot borders of the ludicrous. But Middle American audiences forgive such things, and the women wept deeply at the melodrama.

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Doc Rock and the playboy redemption.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
5 March 2009

Magnificent Obsession is adapted from a novel by Lloyd C Douglas, and had been previously filmed back in 1935 with Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor in the leads. Here the piece is directed by melodrama maestro Douglas Sirk, and features Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson as the emotionally charged leads. The story revolves around Bob Merrick {Hudson}, a playboy who is inadvertently responsible for the death of Helen Phillips' {Wyman} husband. As he starts to find a soul in amongst his playboy image, he desperately wants to make peace with Helen, but during his efforts to apologise she is tragically blinded in an accident. As Helen recuperates, Bob worms his way into Helen's life posing as someone else, they amazingly start to fall in love, but the truth will out and tragedy seems to permanently hover over this newly formed alliance.

As with the best of Douglas Sirk, Magnificent Obsession is loaded with drama and unashamed assaults on the viewers emotional fortitude. It is quite simply a weeper, a stress relief server for those inclined. No bad thing that tho, just as long as the viewer is fully aware of the type of film they are getting. To only market it as a romance piece is something of a disservice because its core is one of redemption, even religion is neatly threaded into the deftly assembled script. Technically it has a lot going for it, Frank Skinner's score is smoothly gorgeous, with Chopin's Études perfectly accompanying the blossoming romance, while the colour photography from Russell Metty is sensibly unobtrusive.Rock Hudson would jump on to the map with his performance here {proving he could act if given the meat to chew on}, and Wyman would get Oscar nominated for her emotionally driven turn, all in all it's a film that's well worth watching, if in that frame of mind!. 7.5/10

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The best of Sirk.

Author: sevisan from Spain
7 October 2007

I have always had mixed feelings about some of the Sirk melodramas. "Imitation of life" is "cool" in the wrong sense of the word, with a bad cast (Lana Turner, Sandra Dee, etc.), poor sets and a general look of fifties sitcom. "All that heaven allows" also has its flaws: a "politically correct" tone, a postcard look (that awful final shot of the deer) and a horrible and unveliable Rock Hudson.

On the contrary, I think "Magnificent Obsession" is the most poignant or Sirk's films. It has a restrained, "less is more", mood very different, for instance, from the frenzied and mad bursts of "Written on the wind". Take, among others, the sublime scenes of the "insomnia night" and its dark tones, the reading of comic strips by the lake or the sweet and serene ending. Here, Hudson and Wyman show a real insight with their characters and are really moving. The paced mood and the soft, pastel colors contrast with the hard driven and violent tones of "Written ..." (the red car and dresses, the aggressive performances of Malone and Stack, the "lubricious" dance,etc.). These two very different films are, in my view, the best of Sirk: "Obsession" tender and moving, "Written" violent and crazy.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Obsession for the Magnificent?

Author: edwagreen from United States
28 December 2005

Jane Wyman received her 4th and final Academy Award nomination for this 1954 film.

Married to a doctor, she seems to have an ideal life. The latter is wrecked when her husband suffers a fatal heart attack and could not be resuscitated, since the equipment was being used by a millionaire playboy, (Hudson in a brilliant performance), who got hurt in a boating accident caused by his irresponsibility.

Hudson, as Bob Merrick, is at his best in the part that was made for him- irresponsible, good looking, and a good time Charlie.

We soon learn that Merrick had at one time studied to be a doctor but had given it up to pursue the carefree life.

In trying to apologize to a widowed Wyman, she is blinded when hit by a car, as she tries to flee from him.

Merrick now romances the Wyman character under an alias and is able to get away with it. With hope promised for a restoration of her sight, Wyman goes off to Europe. When the doctors there say that nothing can be done, Wyman flees with her usual movie companion, Agnes Moorehead, leaving Hudson, who had followed her.

Hudson returns to the U.S. and establishes himself by completing his medical degree.

Summoned to Wyman's bedside when she becomes very ill, Hudson must operate to save his love. A true Hollywood ending follows.


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