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.


HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL!
1958, MGM/Cinema Associates, 85 min, USA, Dir: Jack Arnold

“Behind these ‘nice’ school walls – a teacher’s nightmare! A teen-age jungle!” More interested in studying marijuana than mathematics, tough new kid Tony Baker (Russ Tamblyn) makes a beeline for the wrong crowd in this fast-paced exploitation fave. The cast is as wild as the action, with memorable appearances from slumming Hollywood scions Charlie Chaplin, Jr. and John Drew Barrymore, recovering teenage werewolf Michael Landon and the immortal Mamie Van Doren as Tony’s hot-to-trot aunt. Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis sings the classic title song.


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