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.


THE MAN FROM THE ALAMO
1953, Universal, 79 min, USA, Dir: Budd Boetticher

“Out of Texas’ bravest hour…came the man they called the coward.” As the titular character of this Technicolor Western, John Stroud (Glenn Ford) is chosen to leave the famed fort during its siege and warn the locals of Mexican General Santa Ana’s approach. But after the battle, when there are no survivors to vouch for him, Stroud is accused of desertion and must work to clear his name and bring those who’d exploited the massacre at the Alamo to justice. Costarring Julie Adams, Chill Wills, Hugh O’Brien and Jeanne Cooper.


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.


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