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Magnificent Obsession [DVD]
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Douglas Sirk's 1954 re-telling of the 1929 novel by the same name. Doctors attending an accident in which Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson), a spoilt rich man has crashed his speedboat through negligence are thus unable to save the life of local physician Dr. Phillips. Phillips was a kind, giving man who selflessly saved many lives and bettered the lot of many locals. Learning this, Merrick is inspired to take up Phillips' good work in atonement but his initial efforts are clumsy and do more harm than good and end in yet another tragedy. Dr. Phillips' wife Angela (Jane Wyman) is soon repelling Merrick's advances as he seeks to well and truly step into the doctor's slippers.
Rock Hudson became a beefcake star playing a self-absorbed, thrill-chasing millionaire playboy in the first of Douglas Sirk's glossy Technicolor melodramas. In a classic example of the wicked machinations of soap opera fate, Hudson's showboating antics kill the most saintly man in motion-picture history and stalk his newlywed widow (Jane Wyman), driving her into an accident that leaves her blind. The kindly attentions of a bohemian painter and part-time guardian angel help turn Hudson's life around, and he rejects his irresponsible lifestyle and dedicates himself to his new "magnificent obsession" of philanthropy and good deeds, meanwhile romancing Wyman in a sincere, soft-spoken voice and with a phony name. Magnificent Obsession was a huge success and established a style Sirk would refine through the 1950s, reaching a baroque peak in Written on the Wind and culminating with what may be his most successful and most famous film, Imitation of Life. Compared to his later successes, this is arch and flat, lacking the ironic edge and luscious style of his best films, but it's an exceedingly handsome production in bold, bright colors where swooning romance and life-saving operations define life as an emotional roller coaster of mythic proportions. --Sean Axmaker
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There is a scene where a painter introduces Rock Hudson to the concept of doing good without telling anyone, and makes reference to Jesus without saying his name. In the Robert Taylor version, the man picks up the bible to illustrate who he is referring to. What the film doesn't address is whether or not it is exploring a Christian concept, or if the artist is a Christian.
Like Taylor, Hudson was used for his good looks, but that's all he is in this film. I don't believe his character, nor do I believe the story.
It's only because Agnes Moorehead is in this film why I bothered to watch it. She doesn't add anything to the film, but her best work is in black and white.
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