WRITTEN ON THE WIND
1956, Universal, 99 min, USA, Dir: Douglas Sirk

Commonly acknowledged as one of pantheon director Douglas Sirk’s most sublime masterworks, this tale of two friends - rich, alcoholic Robert Stack and poor, sensible Rock Hudson (who also works for him) - runs the gamut of emotions, examining the consequences of the pair’s mutual love for radiant Lauren Bacall. But Sirk doesn’t stop there as he subtly explores, through back story and character, the loneliness and spiritual degradation caused by unchecked materialism. He also manages to skillfully sidestep soap opera cliches while still delivering glossy, superior popular entertainment. Dorothy Malone won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as Stack’s promiscuous sister with a long-unrequited yen for Hudson.


ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS
1955, Universal, 89 min, USA, Dir: Douglas Sirk

Jane Wyman, a lonely widow with two spoiled, almost grown children (William Reynolds, Gloria Talbot) as well as a circle of snobbish, upper-middle-class friends, suddenly finds herself falling in love with her gardener (Rock Hudson). Director Douglas Sirk examines the curious cultural barriers we set up for ourselves regarding love, skewering age and class differences in the process as well as championing fearless independence of the individual spirit - something that was not so common in the 1950s. One of the most subversive love stories of 20th-century cinema and a prime inspiration for Todd Haynes' acclaimed FAR FROM HEAVEN.


GIANT
1956
2011, Warner Bros., 201 min, USA, Dir: George Stevens

Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean (in his last role) star in this sprawling account of the rise of a Texas oil family. Stevens moves back and forth between epic social commentary and intimate family melodrama with ease, and Boris Levin’s stunning art direction is a wonder to behold on the big screen. Stevens won the Academy Award for Best Director.


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