has never been better than as the hard-headed newsman with a romantic soft spot for a team of gypsy fliers--especially the sexy parachute-jumping Dorothy Malone--in Douglas Sirk's adaptation of William Faulkner's Pylon
. It's the Depression, and the volatile little family--disillusioned World War I ace Robert Stack; his doting wife Malone; his sad, lovesick mechanic Jack Carson; and Stack's hero-worshipping son--has landed in New Orleans for a Mardi Gras air show. Stack's mania for flying ("I need to fly, just like an alcoholic needs his drink!") keeps him at arm's length from his loving family, and he even sacrifices his wife's virtue for a shot at piloting his archrival's spare plane, but his brittle emotional armor cracks in a stunning moment of redemption.
Douglas Sirk trades his vivid Technicolor palette for shadowy black-and-white CinemaScope (the gorgeous widescreen compositions are tragically lost on pan-and-scan video) to create a dark, desperate vision of the Depression, where deadened souls wait for the next spectacular crash as fliers recklessly race around pylons. Sirk heightens the alienation with the most stylized shooting of his career: cameras peer through transom windows, shadows slash through scenes, and grotesque Mardi Gras costumes wander through almost every scene. This production is considered by many, including Faulkner himself, to be the best adaptation of the author's work, and it remains Sirk's most bleakly beautiful film. --Sean Axmaker
Classic drama directed by Douglas Sirk and based on the novel 'Pylon' by William Faulker. Set in the 1930s, the film focuses on Roger Shumann (Robert Stack), an embittered former World War I flying ace who is now making a modest living as a pilot and parachutist. When New Orleans journalist Burke Devlin (Rock Hudson) encounters Stack at a carnival, he becomes intrigued by the pilot's fall from grace. As he is drawn into Stack's individualistic lifestyle, he also finds himself drawn towards Stack's long-suffering wife, LaVerne Shumann (Dorothy Malone).