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On 24 October 1955, the hard-work geologist of the Hadley Oil Company Mitch Wayne meets the executive secretary Lucy Moore in the office of her boss Bill Ryan in New York and invites her to go to a conference with the alcoholic playboy and son of a tycoon Kyle Hadley. On the way of the meeting, he confesses that they had traveled from Houston to New York to satisfy the wish of the reckless Kyle, who is his best friend since their childhood, of eating a sandwich from club 21 and the meeting was just a pretext to Kyle's father Jasper Hadley. Mitch and Kyle immediately fall in love for Lucy, and Kyle unsuccessfully uses his money to impress Lucy; then he opens his heart and proposes Lucy. They get married and travel to Acapulco and the insecure Kyle stops drinking. Meanwhile, Kyle's sister Marylee is an easy woman and has a non-corresponded crush on Mitch that sees her as a sister. One year later, Kyle discovers that he has a problem and might be sterile and starts drinking again. The ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Robert Stack said he did no research to prepare for his difficult role. "I just went and used my imagination, and I was doing DTs and madness and the six stages of drunkenness, and it was a good chance to truly prove that I could either do something pretty good or completely fall on my face." Stack got so involved in his part that Lauren Bacall, enacting the scene where he had to knock her over the bed and induce a miscarriage, became a little worried. As Stack later related it, Bacall told him, "You're crazy, your eyes are crazy." Stack told her the character was supposed to be crazy and she replied, "I don't mean acting crazy, you really are crazy!" See more »
In a few shots over the shoulders of Jasper and Lucy Hadley in Jasper's office we can see out the windows the little smudge pots making the smoke in the "oilfields" outside. See more »
A dysfunctional family and a classic love triangle
Robert Stack never really got over losing a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Kyle in "Written on the Wind" to Anthony Quinn's 12-minute performance in "Lust for Life." Stack plays the deeply disturbed, alcoholic son of an oil tycoon. He has lived his life in the shadow of the friend with whom he was raised, Mitch, played by Rock Hudson. They both love the same woman, Lucy, (Lauren Bacall), who becomes Kyle's wife. Kyle's sister, Marylee (Dorothy Malone), is a drunken slut who's in love with Mitch. Their story plays out in glorious color under the able direction of Douglas Sirk, who really dominated the melodrama field with some incredible films, including "Imitation of Life," "All that Heaven Allows," "Magnificent Obsession," and many others.
Make no mistake - this is a potboiler, and Stack and Dorothy Malone make the most of their roles, Malone winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. There's one amazing scene, mentioned in other comments, where she wildly dances to loud music as her father collapses and dies on the staircase. We're led to believe that Marylee sleeps with everyone, including the guy that pumps the gas, because she's in love with Mitch. Mitch wants nothing to do with her. He's so in love with Lucy that, out of loyalty to Kyle, he wants to go to work in Iran to avoid temptation. I doubt he'd be so anxious to get there today no matter how much in love he was.
Hudson and Bacall have the less exciting roles here - Hudson's Mitch is the good guy who's been cleaning up Kyle's messes for his entire life, and Bacall is Mitch's wife who finds herself in a nightmare when her husband starts drinking again after a year of sobriety. Sirk focuses on the more volatile supporting players.
In Sirk's hands, "Written on the Wind" is an effective film, and the big scene toward the end in the mansion is particularly exciting. The director had a gift for this type of movie, and though he had many imitators, he never had an equal.
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