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Discover the Films of Douglas Sirk

Vanessa de Largie | Topic Media | May 7, 2012

Are you a fan of the melodrama?

Then, meet Douglas Sirk, the king of melodramas.

My film-buff mother introduced me to the films of Sirk, when I was only knee-high to a grasshopper and I have been over indulging in them ever since.

All of my close friends and colleagues have been subjected to my Sirk ramblings and forced to watch his films with me, when coming to my house.

I have made many a Sirk-fan in my time. He is without a doubt, my favourite film director of all time.

So now it’s time for me to put on my captain’s hat and seduce you into coming on the Sirk-ship with me, sailing to melodrama heaven.

Now the four films, I would like to focus on and urge you with all of my heart to get hold of, were made between 1952-1958 with Universal Studios.

Many film makers pay hommage to Sirk – Tarantino for instance. Who can forget the scene in Pulp Fiction at the 50’s themed restaurant, where character ‘Vincent Vega’ orders the ‘Douglas Sirk – Steak’ as ‘bloody as hell.’

Writer & Director Todd Haynes attempted to make a Sirk replicate with Far From Heaven, starring Julianne Moore and in my opinion, failed miserably.

Anyway, let’s start with my favourite film of all time. Yes it’s an oldie and yes, admittedly it has aged (unfortunately), but it is the ultimate melodrama.

Imitation Of Life

A star studded cast and amazing wardrobe – think Mad Men. And Juanita Moore’s performance is incredible. If you have already seen other Sirk films and know his obvious admiration for Rock Hudson (casting him in 5 films), one can only come to the conclusion that Rock was busy when ‘Imitation’ was filming, so they got the closest thing – John Gavin, who is a Rock-look-alike!

Written On The Wind

Starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone. This film hasn’t aged and it has a great little plot. Kyle (Stack) is a rich alcoholic who marries the woman who is loved by his best friend (Hudson), who is pursued by Kyle’s manipulative sister, played by Dorothy Malone. Dorothy’s performance is the standout in the piece.

All That Heaven Allows

I love this film so much. Starring Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman and Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched.) A wealthy widow falls in love with a gardener/handyman, much to the disgust of her peers and children. Jane Wyman is so radiant as always.

Magnificent Obsession

I guess this would have to be my second favourite Sirk film, if I’m ranking them. Starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, it has some great philosophies/reflections in the script that will stay with you. A real tear jerker. Have a box of tissues handy!