IMDb > Written on the Wind (1956)
Written on the Wind
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Written on the Wind (1956) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.5/10   7,899 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 32% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
George Zuckerman (screenplay)
Robert Wilder (based on the novel by)
Contact:
View company contact information for Written on the Wind on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
25 December 1956 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
This woman in his arms was now the wife of the man he called his best friend! See more »
Plot:
Alcoholic playboy Kyle Hadley marries the woman secretly loved by his poor but hard-working best friend, who in turn is pursued by Kyle's nymphomaniac sister. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won Oscar. Another 3 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(72 articles)
User Reviews:
A Douglas Sirk masterpiece See more (85 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Rock Hudson ... Mitch Wayne

Lauren Bacall ... Lucy Moore Hadley

Robert Stack ... Kyle Hadley

Dorothy Malone ... Marylee Hadley

Robert Keith ... Jasper Hadley

Grant Williams ... Biff Miley

Robert J. Wilke ... Dan Willis

Edward Platt ... Doctor Paul Cochrane (as Edward C. Platt)
Harry Shannon ... Hoak Wayne

John Larch ... Roy Carter
Joseph Granby ... R.J. Courtney
Roy Glenn ... Sam

Maidie Norman ... Bertha

William Schallert ... Reporter
Joanne Jordan ... Brunette
Dani Crayne ... Blonde
Dorothy Porter ... Secretary
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Gail Bonney ... Hotel Floorlady (uncredited)
Paul Bradley ... Maitre d' (uncredited)
Robert Brubaker ... Hotel Manager (uncredited)
Carl Christian ... Ben - Bartender (uncredited)

Kevin Corcoran ... Boy on Electric Hobbyhorse (uncredited)

George DeNormand ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Restaurant Patron (uncredited)

Chuck Hamilton ... Policeman (uncredited)

Don C. Harvey ... Hotel Doorman (uncredited)

Phil Harvey ... College Boy at Party (uncredited)

Bert Holland ... Court Clerk (uncredited)
Jane Howard ... Beer Drinker (uncredited)
Carlene King Johnson ... College Girl at Party (uncredited)
Chester Jones ... Attendant (uncredited)
Glen Kramer ... College Boy at Party (uncredited)
Robert Lyden ... Kyle as a Boy (voice) (uncredited)
Robert Malcolm ... Hotel Proprietor (uncredited)
Coleen McClatchey ... College Girl at Party (uncredited)

Harold Miller ... Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
Ralph Moratz ... Small plane attendant (uncredited)

Barry Norton ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Susan Odin ... Marylee as a Girl (voice) (uncredited)
Cynthia Patrick ... Waitress (uncredited)
Floyd Simmons ... Beer Drinker (uncredited)
Hal Taggart ... Prosecution Staff Lawyer (uncredited)
Robert Winans ... Mitch as a Boy (voice) (uncredited)

Directed by
Douglas Sirk 
 
Writing credits
George Zuckerman (screenplay)

Robert Wilder (based on the novel by)

Produced by
Albert Zugsmith .... producer
 
Original Music by
Frank Skinner 
 
Cinematography by
Russell Metty (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Russell F. Schoengarth 
 
Art Direction by
Robert Clatworthy 
Alexander Golitzen 
 
Set Decoration by
Russell A. Gausman (set decorations)
Julia Heron (set decorations)
 
Costume Design by
Bill Thomas (gowns)
Jay A. Morley Jr. (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Joan St. Oegger .... hair stylist
Bud Westmore .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Norman Deming .... unit manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William Holland .... assistant director
Wilson Shyer .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Leslie I. Carey .... sound
Robert Pritchard .... sound
William Lambert .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Edward L. Sandlin .... sound editor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Clifford Stine .... special photography
 
Music Department
Joseph Gershenson .... music supervisor
Ethmer Roten .... musician: flute (uncredited)
 
Other crew
William Fritzsche .... Technicolor color consultant
Betty A. Griffin .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Richard Mayer .... dialogue coach (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
99 min | UK:100 min (re-release)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.00 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:K-12 (1989) | Finland:K-16 (1956) | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1956) | New Zealand:R16 | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (tv rating) | UK:PG (video re-rating) (2005) | UK:PG (re-release) (re-rating) (1998) | USA:Not Rated | USA:Approved (MPAA rating: certificate #17932) | West Germany:6 | West Germany:18 (nf) (original rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.See more »
Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: Marilee drives in a straight road in the petroleum area, but she nevertheless turns the wheel all the time.See more »
Quotes:
Marylee Hadley:But you don't have to take my word for anything. Just try keeping your head clear and your eyes open.
Kyle Hadley:Why should you care? You've never cared about me.
Marylee Hadley:...Or your wife.
Kyle Hadley:Why are you putting your two cents in?
Marylee Hadley:Only because of Mitch. Because I've never had him. And your wife has.
[Kyle slaps her]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Rock Hudson's Home Movies (1992)See more »
Soundtrack:
TemptationSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
37 out of 54 people found the following review useful.
A Douglas Sirk masterpiece, 13 March 2003
Author: The Big Combo

Director Douglas Sirk once said `there's a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains craziness is by this very quality nearer to art'. This statement defines his cinema perfectly, a very unique body of work that includes classic stage adaptations, adventure and war films, westerns and of course, his famous melodramas.

Sirk's melodramas were, as the very word signifies, dramas with music. The music sets the tone for his masterful style, and every stroke of his brush (Sirk was also a painter) leaves a powerful image on the screen-turned-canvas. But this ain't life but its representation, an imitation of life. Sirk never tried to show reality, on the contrary. None of the directors of his generation made a better use of all the technical devices provided by Hollywood (most notably Technicolor) to distinguish the artificial from the real thing. Let's remember that his golden period coincides with the time when Hollywood films turned its attention into the social drama (Blackboard jungle, Rebel without a cause). Sirk always knew that cinema was meant to be something else.

Another of Sirk's statements summarizes this: `You can't reach, or touch, the real. You just see reflections. If you try to grasp happiness itself your fingers only meet glass'. I defy anybody that has seen Written on the wind to count the amount of mirrors and images reflected that appear on screen. One ends up giving up.

Therefore, we are in a hall full of mirrors where there's no difference between real and its false copy. Nobody can say that the Hadley are real people. That town ain't real either, with those hideous oil pumps all over the place. So in this realm the acting is affected, the decore is fake, the trick is visible. Everything is pushed a little bit off the limit (the sexual connotations of Dorothy Malone with the oil tower, for example). Sirk was criticizing and theorizing at the same time.

`The angles are the director's thoughts; the lighting is his philosophy'. In Written on the wind we follow the fall of a traditional way of life both in a geometrical way and in terms of light and shadows. The Hadleys house, with its different levels connected by the spiral staircase operates in a strictly metaphorical way. A house that resembles a mausoleum, that no party can cheer up. As tragedy progresses from luminous daylight to shadowy night, Sirk's photography becomes an extension of the inner state of his characters, and so are the colours of the clothes they wear. Drama is thus incorporated to every element at the service of the director's craft.

Sirk considered himself a `story bender', because he bended the standard material he was assigned with to his style and purpose. Written on the wind is a good example. It wouldn't work in any other hands.

The other director that was using similar strategies was Frank Tashlin, who was for 50's comedy the same that Sirk was for melodrama. Their films are full of the machinery of american life -advertising, TV sets, jukeboxes, washing machines, sport cars, vacuum cleaners- to depict its emptiness and decay. I'm inclined to think that their films were regarded in a different way by their contemporary audiences. The game was played by both sides, so it was camp. Now we regard them as `cult' or `bizarre', because we are not those spectators anymore. That is why Todd Haynes's homage `Far from heaven' turns into a pastiche, because it reproduces Sirk's work nowadays as if nothing happened in between. Then Sirk turns exactly into that painting hanging in the art gallery that Julianne Moore and the gardener discuss in the aforementioned film.

Sirk understood the elements of melodrama perfectly. There were always immovable characters (Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall here) against which he could assemble a series of split ones. His balance through antithesis is remarkable and not surprisingly we root for the split characters, because these are the ones Sirk is interested in too. When Robert Stack flies the plane and `tempts' Lauren Bacall with all sorts of mundane comforts of the world below them (obvious Faustian echoes) we are strangely fascinated with him too, as we are when the devilish nymphomaniac little sister painfully evokes her past with Mitch alone by the river.

In the Sirk's universe the studio often-imposed `happy ends' have no negative impact. In fact they worked just great. Sirk was fond of greek tragedy and considered happy endings the Deux ex machinea of his day. Thus the final courtroom scene fits well and one must also remember that the whole film is told in flashback, so we know from the very beginning that tragedy will fall nevertheless over the Hadley feud.

It was pointed out the many similarities between Written on the Wind with the Godfather saga. I absolutely agree and I'm sure the parallel is not incidental. Both share the theme of the old powerful father head trying to keep his empire going while protecting his family. The temperamental son portrayed by Robert Stack has an amazing physical resemblance with Jimmy Caan's Sonny Corleone. The action of fighting her sister's male friend is symmetrical. The non-son in which the old man put his trust is also common in both films, as the fact that both families carry the names of their town. Even details as the gate that gives access to the property, and the surroundings of the house covered by leaves, suggest that Coppola had Written on the Wind in mind while setting his masterwork. Because both films deal with the subject of Power: the acquisition of power, its manipulation and legacy (even Kyle Hadley's sterility, the event that hastens the turmoil, is an issue easily tied to the central theme of Power, in this case, a weakness in sexual power). The other great film that deals with power and uses american life as its representation is Citizen Kane. One wouldn't think at first of similarities between Welles and Sirk's films but there are a good many, starting with the petrol business as the origin of the family's fortune and ending in the fact that Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson), as Charles Foster Kane, was adopted by a tutor, having his own father alive. Amazingly, the same actor (Harry Shannon) perform both Wayne and Kane's fathers. This detail is cannot be a coincidence.

Written on the Wind is a masterpiece in every aspect, in execution and vision, in style and technique, a highlight in the career of this wonderful director. Some say that this is his best film. In my opinion, `Magnificent obsession', `All that heaven allows', `There's always tomorrow' and `Imitation of life' are just as good. And for those who put Sirk in the level of Dallas or Dinasty I wish them no happy end.

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