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Customer Review

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "All art is to me is a name", 6 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Magnificent Obsession [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the series of romantic melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk in the early to mid-1950s. The story, taken from a Mills and Boonesque novella, need not detain the rational mind for too long; Rock Hudson's playboy's selfish pursuit of pleasure and thrills leads to his indirectly causing both the death of a saintly local doctor and also a subsequent injury to his wife (Jane Wyman). The rest of the film is taken up with his search for redemption through cod-philosophy and self-help counselling.

The sentimentality of the theme is not overly helped by a pretty bland script and by music based on choirs of warbling cherubim and seraphim that do their damnedest in the big scenes to signal the rising emotional temperature and make sure the viewer has the thermometer lodged under the tongue and registering 104. Nor is the acting anything special. Rock Hudson glowers and emotes well enough, though his resemblance at times to Elvis Presley is unfortunate. Jane Wyman is workmanlike but too old for the part - she was 8 years older than Rock and looks here more like his maiden aunt than the object of his affections. Barbara Rush also looks too old - she was only 10 years younger than Wyman but plays her daughter. The honours are carried off by the always-reliable Agnes Moorehead playing a devoted nurse - tough yet wise in the ways of the world, including the ways of love.

So whence the **** and the film's tall reputation? In a word: the look. The look of the movie is everything. Sirk makes the most of the glorious, saturated Technicolor in the outdoor locations, all in California, and lavishes characteristically meticulous care on his colour-coordinated sets and costumes. Your eyes are feasted with an ever-changing symphony of harmonising turquoises, greens, blue and reds in big things (the natural locations of forest and water, the cars, the costumes, the wallpaper) to small (flowers everywhere, table settings, Rock's ties, even the writing paper) and backed up by subtle lighting. In its visual beauty this picture's right up there with Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes and Zoltan Korda's The Four Feathers.

No extras, but a clean print, though it may well be worth digging deep and forking out for the Criterion release (from early 2009) offering a restored, high-definition digital transfer with audio commentary + 80 mins documentary on Sirk.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Dec 2009 13:51:29 GMT
Bob Salter says:
Shame on you, admiring this sentimental drivel. I expect your hanky was soaking wet by the end of this contrived weepy. Your credibility has taken a severe broadside!!!! YUK, YUK and double YUUUUUK!!!! Still my mother likes it!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2010 15:21:25 GMT
H. Dumpty says:
Well, Bob, please convey to your super-discriminating mother that Humpty Dumpty worships the ground upon which her stilettos tread, and enquire how come she contrived to bring into this cold, unfeeling world such a flint-hearted son who failed to digest my first two paras. detailing the film's drawbacks, and whose five senses, apparently impaired by all those grim spaghetti westerns with cowpokes and gunslingers' molls going down like so many ninepins all over the sierra in weltering gore, has failed to respond to that glorious Technicolor. ;0 )

Posted on 31 Jan 2010 21:35:08 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
First time I ever heard someone call a resemblance to Elvis Presley unfortunate.
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