Monday, November 30, 2009

Melodrama, 1950s Style!

If you haven't seen Written on the Wind (1956), directed by Douglas Sirk, written by George Zuckerman, based upon a novel by Robert Wilder, starring Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall, I will not shame you... Nor will I tell you to rush to youtube or wherever and watch it. It's a film that, fun to watch alone, would be best with a friend or two who enjoy old movies/ kind of bad old movies. There is just so much 1950s Cultural America/Societal Morality in this movie, it kind of makes me dizzy. I know the stars are supposed to be Lauren and Rock, but if I were titling this film I'd go ahead and call it Good Girl Vs. Tramp, as Dorothy Malone character is really the scene thief. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
This film teaches little girls that nice girls wear less exciting clothing, don't drink, don't have sex before marriage, stand by their husbands, and try to marry rich, and don't really want careers if they can have a husband, big house and babies. None of this is necessarily BAD, but oh dear Lord, I could sit here all day talking about women and men and the onslaught of conservatism in the US, post WWII. I shan't bore you with it. All I mean to say is that this film is terribly amusing in its main theme: Don't be a slut. Pardon my....Corsican (why not?). The main characters really do not interest me in this tale. We all love Bacall (playing the character of Lucy) but her character is snore-inducing. She's pretty and smart, and she and Rock Hudson (playing Mitch) have clear chemistry from the start. It's also overpoweringly clear that Mitch is a nice gentlemanly fellow while his millionaire friend, Kyle (played by Robert Stack), is a playboy with no interesting character traits aside from showing Lucy a gigantic walk in closet full of pretty dresses and hats. Blah blah blah she says she falls in love with him on the plane (whatever, writers...I know it makes the plot work, but I don't believe it for a second). He wants to deflower her, she says no (being a good girl), and then they get married, and there's talk of infertility which drives Kyle to revert to his old alcoholism.

The fun, interesting story arrives in the character of Kyle's sister, Marylee (played by Dorothy Malone) who may as well have been plucked from the cover of a cheap pulp fiction novel of the day. Her clothes are sexy (!), her hair is a little too yellow and she wears a little too much eyeshadow. There's nearly always a hard drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other.

She's actually a very pretty woman and at melodramatically poignant moments in plot, we see her softer, loving side. If only Mitch would love her, she wouldn't have become such a wanton woman!!! (Music cue!!!) I won't spoil the plot for anyone in case you're interested but, a couple people fall down stairs, there's a court scene and a ridiculous, happy ending. I think that's all you need to know. Most of the screen caps are of Dorothy Malone as she clearly has the best acting job in this picture. The woman gets her own bad girl music cues for goodness' sakes.

Watch as she dances wildly, her she-devil music blaring! Her very wickedness strong enough to kill! Look out, powerful women are dangerous! Okay, she's not that powerful, she's sort of messed up...but you know, if we wanted to dig deeper....I'll shut up now.

Check out the gorgeous court looks on these dames!


I challenge anyone to watch the beginning of the film, followed by this classic Celine Dion music video, and tell me they don't complement each other beautifully (giggle).


Kelsy said...

Oh man. I feel like this is a film I'd only enjoy if I was watching it with you. Oh, the 1950s.

Andi B. Goode said...

Ooh, I must try to track this down. Looks good!
-Andi x

emma wallace said...

I think I'll try and find this! It sounds quite diverting!

Margaux said...

I am almost positive it's all on youtube. The video I posted will lead the way. :)