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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2009
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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on 11 August 2014
Despite the talented cast, this is a boring film. The characters are one-dimensional, and the plot fails to engage you in any way. The Robert Taylor version is much the same.

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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2012
Magnificent Obsession is adapted from a novel by Lloyd C Douglas, and had been previously filmed back in 1935 with Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor in the leads. Here the piece is directed by melodrama maestro Douglas Sirk, and features Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson as the emotionally charged leads. The story revolves around Bob Merrick {Hudson}, a playboy who is inadvertently responsible for the death of Helen Phillips' {Wyman} husband. As he starts to find a soul in amongst his playboy image, he desperately wants to make peace with Helen, but during his efforts to apologise she is tragically blinded in an accident. As Helen recuperates, Bob worms his way into Helen's life posing as someone else, they amazingly start to fall in love, but the truth will out and tragedy seems to permanently hover over this newly formed alliance.

As with the best of Douglas Sirk, Magnificent Obsession is loaded with drama and unashamed assaults on the viewers emotional fortitude. It is quite simply a weeper, a stress relief server for those inclined. No bad thing that tho, just as long as the viewer is fully aware of the type of film they are getting. To only market it as a romance piece is something of a disservice because its core is one of redemption, even religion is neatly threaded into the deftly assembled script. Technically it has a lot going for it, Frank Skinner's score is smoothly gorgeous, with Chopin's Études perfectly accompanying the blossoming romance, while the colour photography from Russell Metty is sensibly unobtrusive.Rock Hudson would jump on to the map with his performance here {proving he could act if given the meat to chew on}, and Wyman would get Oscar nominated for her emotionally driven turn, all in all it's a film that's well worth watching, if in that frame of mind!. 7.5/10
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on 31 May 2013
Love the movie.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 August 2010
This movie is a camp classic and despite Rock Hudson giving a performance distinctly inferior to that which he gave in "All That Heaven Allows" or "Written on the Wind", the film still works well because of Jane Wyman's moving portrayal of the leading character. This Region 1 Criterion restoration also contains a copy of the earlier version of the film directed by John Stahl and starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor which is regarded by many as the definite version of Lloyd C Douglas' (author of "The Robe') religious/mystical novel. The quality of sound and image for both films is outstanding which makes this double DVD set vital viewing for serious cinema enthusiasts.
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on 13 June 2013
bought this a few weeks a ago - saw it many many years ago in the cinema. Quite frankly haven't had a chance to watch it yet but know I will love it as it was a fantastic film and great story - just love Rock hudson
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on 15 May 2013
well what can I say about this film exept its a real tear jerker everytime I watch it tears stroll down my face I didn't think I would ever be able to get it but again amazon was there again thank you
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on 22 August 2008
Douglas Sirk is probably one of the best Directors ever to walk the grounds of Hollywood! In this film, he skillfully puts together one of the most magical couples in celluloid, Hudson and Wyman. A true textbook melodrama, Sirk has the hability to take it to the boundaries of kitsch, but without ever crossing it, maintaining "good taste" all the way through!. A must see, like any movie these 3 (Sirk, Wyamn and Hudson) ever made together!
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on 25 October 2013
This is a preposterous but constantly entertaining drama about fate and redemption. It's all the more entertaining viewed over half a century later with what we can now see as some dodgy acting (with usual plot-holes) but the whole thing is nothing less than endearing and nostalgic.
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on 28 October 2010
The situation is definitely better than in "All I Desire", even respectable. Bob Merrick is an acceptable prickly self-centered egotistic selfish young rich man who wants to get everything standing at attention when he asks, demands or orders something. He does not accept no for an answer and he refuses any opposition, to the point of causing a catastrophe in the person he pretends to be wanting to love. Then the whole film is the story of that man who is going to try to make up for his self-minded clumsiness, and one could see that clumsiness as purely criminal. The film is actually interesting because we can see that man change in his attitude, in his language, in his doubts and uncertainties. Little by little he becomes human, maybe more humane and he will get what he wanted in the end, but not exactly the way he wanted it: more dramatic, more exacting, and that is the price he will have to pay for his foolish idiocy. I find that character absolutely obnoxious even when he is trying to repair the damage he has caused. I think he should not be forgiven because his narrow-mindedness is unforgivable. But well apparently in Hollywood and in the 1950s they could not accept tragedy. And that story deserved a tragic ending. They actually moved towards it and then avoided it at the last minute. Too bad. How can he be forgiven the ten years of hell he imposed onto some one who had done him no harm and had even picked him up unconscious in a ditch.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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