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Written on the Wind
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Written on the Wind More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Rich in money and poor in heart

9/10
Author: Dr Jacques COULARDEAU from Olliergues, France
31 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story is perfectly believable because it brings together four characters that hate each other and one another so much and at the same time love each other and one another so much that they have to kill one another and each other in the end, though three will survive. Drastic, bleak, horrific! The son and daughter of an oil tycoon are just spoiled children who cannot see life the way it should be, the result of a personal fight against one's own phantoms in one's head in order to be free and creative. So they fight against their closest friends or loves and they accuse them of the worst crimes or manipulate them with the menace of the worst crimes and life has to stop one day when the menace or the threat are too strong. Power leads to frustration, to impotence, to a lost bullet in the gut of the first one concerned by the gun since that one is holding it at that moment and with the help of fate and the cooperative hand of a woman, that bullet will end where it was not intended but where it solved one step of the problem and generates two or three more steps on that descent to Hell. Will that feminine hand go as far as doing what she tried to blackmail the brother's best friend Mitch with. You'll have to find out. But these children of rich people who have all they want and cannot accept not to get what they want, no matter what it is, are lost for society, and for themselves, and they will end dead or just rejected by everyone. Who said it was a good thing to be rich? He or she might have been right, but that does not cover the child of a rich person. And then that sure is not in any way a blissful lot. The film thus has some density and the ending is Hollywoodian in the fact that the most tragic dramas always end up in bliss in Hollywood, at least for the spectator who can leave the theater with a beautiful feeling.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Lifestyles of the sad and the rich...a Sirkian melodramatic masterpiece.

9/10
Author: Jem Odewahn from Australia
23 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WRITTEN ON THE WIND, directed by Douglas Sirk and released in 1956, is like all of Sirk's mid 50's films- pure melodrama. Yet it is engrossing, richly developed melodrama, and Sirk's trademark lurid colour expressionism, throbbing, barely repressed emotions, symbolism and juxtaposition of the classes make this a film to crave.

The film opens brilliantly, with the four central characters and the plot being introduced as the credits are still rolling. Sirk uses a clever flashback structure to take us into his world...

Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone are magnificent as the two Hadley "kids", Kyle and Marylee. He drinks and sleeps around with women. She drinks and sleeps around with men. They both are worth millions, thanks to the Hadley oil business. Hunky, yet poor, Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson) is Kyle's lifelong friend, and Marylee's dream lover. Enter into this sordid mess Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall), a slim, attractive young woman who falls under Kyle's charms after he picks up a phone and flies her across the countryside one evening. Mitch loves her too, but Kyle wins her. They quickly marry, and Kyle stops drinking. But fate seems to be written on the wind, and it is not long before a conniving Marylee (who will "have Mitch", marriage or no marriage), a secretly smitten Mitch, the confused Lucy and the sad drunk Kyle come to blows....

Malone is just wonderful as Marylee Hadley, thoroughly deserving her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She steals every scene she is in. Stack is almost just as good, amping up the melodrama, while still maintaining subtly and quiet desperation. Hudson and Bacall are a lot more restrained than those two, yet it is in keeping with the characters they play.

So, what's all this melodrama really about it? Well, a lot of things. Stack's powerful portrait of male inadequacy and fear, for one thing. Sirk surrounds Stack with phallic symbols throughout the film- note his tiny little gun, the oil derricks and the ultimate phallic symbol, Kyle's seeming inability to conceive children. Stack seems to be suffering from a massive male superiority complex, made worse by his father's preference for Hudson, his sister's desire for Hudson, and his suspicion that his wife is carrying on with Hudson. With all this wealth Kyle Hadley still ends up at the wrong end of town, buying cheap corn liquor like a "bum".

It's about impossible dreams, and having to let go of them. The river where Kyle, Marylee and Mitch used to play when they were kids is constantly referenced throughout the film, symbolising Kyle and (especially) Marylee's wish for the innocence and simplicity of youth. In an excellent melodramatic scene, perfectly pulled off by Malone, Marylee's stands by the river and imagines herself again as a child, with voice-over of Mitch telling Marylee that she will always be his girl. This is where Sirk strikes a huge emotional chord with the viewer. Who hasn't dreamed about going back to that special place in childhood? Who hasn't, at some point, lived on a treasured memory? Who hasn't wanted something they couldn't have? And Hudson's last line of the film (yes, he gets no dialogue in the last 10 or so minutes, only close-ups) recollects on how "far we've come from the river, Marylee". Amazing.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An unconventional masterpiece

10/10
Author: daniel charchuk
16 January 2008

I'm not sure if this is some kind of masterpiece or just sleazy fluff elevated by the performances and visuals. Whatever the case, I'm sure I loved it. From the wonderfully twisted, lurid, intertwining stories, to the deliciously sinister performances from Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, to the vivid, gaudy colour with which it's all captured, this is high-class trash and it's great fun. Not to mention the amusingly sly and thinly veiled sexual subtexts which permeate the entire film, always threatening to escape from the image into the dialogue but never doing so. I'd be lying if I said that the film's sheer entertainment value didn't contribute to my love for it, but there's some sort of bizarre artistry behind the unintentional (or was it?) comedy and I really, really dug that. I could really get into this melodrama stuff.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Melodrama, But Great Melodrama

9/10
Author: dgz78 (dgz78@yahoo.com) from United States
12 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this in 1976 as part of a film series at my college. It was the first Douglas Sirk movie I'd seen and I was blown away by his vivid use of Technicolor. I thought only the movies of The Archers were able to make such use of color. What would have happened if Douglas Sirk had been born 30 years earlier and was limited to black and white film.

I think some of the credit should go to cinematographer Russell Metty who also worked on Sirk's other great vivid melodramas such as Magnificent Obsesion, All That Heaven Allows, and Imitation of Life. Metty also did some great work in black and white as seen by his work on Touch of Evil and The Misfits.

Sirk was a master of over the top soap operas and the story here is very good soap opera. Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack overplay the parts of rich brother and sister with Malone picking up the Oscar and Stack deserving one.

Hudson and Bacall play the good members of the Hadley house. They don't have the opportunity to give as broad a performance as Malone and Stack but they perform their parts admirably. At least the academy gave the nominations to right performances.

But with Sirk it's always style over substance and his style was always fun and interesting. If you want to watch one Sirk movie, this is a good movie to see.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An early influence on "The Godfather"

10/10
Author: Micar6 from Hollywood, CA
23 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CONTAINS SPOILERS--

Douglas Sirk's `Written on the Wind' is a great movie because of it's fine acting, beautiful cinematography, and compelling story. What makes it even more interesting when viewed today are the clear parallels between `The Godfather' as a story of the rise and fall of the American Dream.

As the head of a rich and powerful family, Jasper Hadley can be viewed as the Mafia don, trying to maintain an empire while protecting his family. His two children, however, are not cooperating and their personal issues continue to threaten the stability and future of the family/business. Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson) is an outsider, yet he has earned the trust of the family and is considered to be as loyal as any family member-a true consiglieri. When young Marylee Hadley (Dorothy Malone) is in trouble with a man, her brother Kyle (Robert Stack) along with his best friend Mitch come to rescue her. The scene of Kyle brawling with Marylee's male friend is an early precursor to a scene in `The Godfather' where Sonny Corleone fights with his sister's husband.

This is just one specifically comparable scene between the two films. `Written on the Wind' is filled with such similarities like the feuding siblings, the `times are changing' theme, the tragic pregnancy, even the music signifying the death of the family patriarch. While watching the final image of Marylee Hadley alone in her dad's study, clutching the mini oil tower, one cannot help but think of Michael Corleone at the end of `The Godfather Part II'-alone, abandoned, and afraid, and with all the money and power they could ever want.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Way Over the Top

8/10
Author: telegonus from brighton, ma
25 January 2002

This classic Douglas Sirk-directed soaper is colorful, overwrought, overacted and almost impossible to turn away from once the story starts rolling. It is the tale of four highly dysfunctional people, each of whom is tragically ill-suited to the person he is romantically involved with (or is married to, or would like to be). No one, it seems, is pleased by who he is supposed to be and what he ought to be doing.

There is a hopelessness at the core of the film, which, because it's so beautifully mounted, isn't the least bit depressing. Sirk approaches the material as if it were Greek tragedy, and manages, through composition and bits of business, to make his characters' erring ways compelling, and at times attractive. Set among the very rich, in the vast expanse of contemporary Texas, the movie has the paradoxical effect of making suffering glamorous and appealing. Or maybe this was the point.

One can't help but wish one were somehow actually involved with these people, living in their spacious homes, driving their sports cars, wearing their clothes. Life's actual suffering, experienced on a much smaller scale by most of us, seems petty by comparison. If only I were big, one can think to one's self, I could get into even more trouble than I'm already in, break even more rules, be wild and free, just like Dorothy Malone. The movie raises the misery ante to the level of the wealth and privelege these people enjoy, and as a result it's simultaneously way over the top and almost Nietzschean in it lack of any sense of or respect for conventional morals. It must have been exhilirating to see this film when it first came out, in 1956, as it has passion and romance and yet no heroes or heroines. It neither endorse nor condemns the mischief its characters get in, and in this respect is a little like its TV contemporary, Dragnet, offering us facts and more facts, mounds of evidence, but no perspective or wisdom or maturity.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Blowhard melodrama

4/10
Author: DJJOEINC from Virginia Beach
27 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched Written on The Wind starring Rock Hudson,Lauren Becall,Robert Stack & Dorothy Malone- Robert Stack was terrible- just bloody horrible- he was supposed to be a charming jet-setting millionaire- instead he came off like a jerk from the word go- the plot was stupid and overwrought and the 3 "romantic" leads had no chemistry. Somehow Dorothy Malone won an Oscar for best supporting actress- although her campy tramp character was boring- think the older sister from Splendour in The Grass filled with malice and bitterness and lacking charisma. Director Douglas Sirk has the entire cast overact their way through dialogue that felt forced and the end result was a waste of 99 minutes. Had a cameo by the actor that played the chief on Get Smart

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Overrated super-melodrama

5/10
Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
8 November 2002

Fairly standard melodrama, with Hudson in love with his rich best friend's (Stack) wife (Bacall). Well photographed and directed, although the sometimes silly script has the actors saying and doing things so ridiculous that a magnificent actor would have a time of it making it believable, let along Stack or Hudson. Dorothy Malone nabbed an Oscar for doing little more than play a standard spoiled rich girl bit. The ending (courtroom scene and all) is hopelessly anticlimactic, and Bacall's character suffers from believability issues, starting with her startlingly quick reversal from disgust with Stack to agreeing to suddenly marry him. Still, well enough executed to hold one's attention.

A lot of people, including the reviewer for "Videohound" seem to think this is some kind of satire of melodramas and they rate it very highly. To me it's a pretty middle of the road picture, and I think they are probably attributing too much to the film. It's basically a potboiler with a sort of a surprise ending. Nothing too great here, really, behind the showy direction.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An unpredictable love triangle

10/10
Author: jgrivero from Asbury New Jersey
23 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind is nothing short of a wonderful film that is also the most emotionally effective Sirk film I've seen since All That Heaven Allows (1955). I thought that by the look of the criterion collection DVD cover that is was going to tell a nice story about the marriage of both Rock Hudson's and Lauren Bacall's characters (which doesn't change my opinion on the movie one bit). But the movie tells a different story, the movie stars Rock Hudson as Mitch Wayne a man who happens to be lifelong best friends with an alcoholic playboy named Kyle Hadley (played by Robert Stack in an Oscar nominated performance) who is dating a woman named Lucy Moore (played by Lauren Bacall) who Kyle then gets married to and doesn't know that Lucy is secretly in love with Mitch, as well as Marylee Hadley (played by Dorothy Malone in an Oscar winning performance) who is Kyle's nymphomaniac sister who is sexually attracted to Mitch. While watching this movie I empathized with the Lauren Bacall character most because she suffered a lot in her marriage to the Robert Stack character who said to her in the beginning of the movie that "I drink too much". Even though I didn't read the novel I felt like I did because I understood the story and the emotions of the characters so well, Sirk really took the time while making this film and had a good time doing it, and Russell Metty's camera angles are shot in all the right places. The movie itself is just a life changing experience for me to watch, this is one of the 10 best films of 1956.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I Don't Understand the Melodrama Genre, and I Don't Want To

3/10
Author: Rob Starzec from United States
14 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What I got from my history of film class about the melodrama is that it is centered on drama within the family, and it is drama with "music" as a key element. I am not sure whether this music part is literal or figurative, because I've been told Breaking Bad is a melodrama yet is not that musical. I always thought melodrama just referred to exaggerated drama found in most soap operas.

Getting back to this specific movie, "Written on the Wind" deals with a wealthy family and a close friend of that family, none of which I even care for. The family in question is the Hadley family, which contains a drunken impulsive baby of a man, his father who runs the family company, and his sister, the town slut. The most interesting moment of the film is when the Hadley slut is dancing in her room and in a seductive dress, which is connected to her father falling down the stairs to his death. He does not see the dance, but it is implied that her sexuality is what ultimately kills him. Other than this we have a complicated love triangle - actually, make that a quadrangle - which ends up getting the Hadley drunk killed, and if the late Hadley's sister decides to testify that Mitch was the one to kill her brother, nobody can refute it. In a somewhat satisfying ending, she cries as she cannot put Mitch away, and then what do you know, the movie ends. I can see the film's effort, but the style of melodrama bored me to death and seemed hyperbolic.

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