Dark Passages: The Films of Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall

Written on the Wind

Douglas SirkUSA99 minutes1956PGColourEnglish

Sat
Aug 11
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    Bacall is the calm at the eye of the storm in Douglas Sirk's deluxe melodrama, playing a New York executive who marries high-flying Texas playboy Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) after a whirlwind courtship and is dragged into the family's den of dysfunction, a dynastic mansion that requires walk-in closets for the clan's many skeletons. While Kyle drowns his sense of failure (his impotence is both physical and metaphorical) in floods of booze and bouts of fisticuffs, his sister Marylee (Dorothy Malone) vamps around town in a red sports car, cavorting as a Texas tea Salome whilst yearning for her pastoral childhood and the stability (and body) of family friend Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson). The colours and camera angles are crazy in Sirk's dire vision of the moral wreckage of American materialism, the symbolism as ripe as it is rife: Malone commits an orgasmic, death-dealing dance of the veils, a scarlet chiffon dervish to a bongo beat, and what she does to a desktop oil derrick is full-on '50s Freudianism.