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Written on the Wind (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)

Rock Hudson , Lauren Bacall , Douglas Sirk    Unrated   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 32.99
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Frequently Bought Together

Written on the Wind (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection) + Magnificent Obsession (The Criterion Collection) + Criterion Collection: All That Heaven Allows [Blu-ray]
Price For All Three: CDN$ 91.66

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Product Details

Product Description


Douglas Sirk puts the opera back into soap opera in this exquisitely baroque melodrama, the epitome of Technicolor gloss. Rock Hudson (as wonderfully wooden as ever) and Lauren Bacall play stalwart examples of altruism, clean living, and good old American ambition, but Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone steal the film as white trash millionaire siblings stewing in self-pity. The plot reads like an episode of Dallas: Texas oil-baron playboy Stack steals good girl Bacall from best friend Hudson while Stack's sister Malone puts her slinky moves on Hudson, the strapping poor boy made good. Toss in impotence, jealousy, alcoholic binges, emotional blackmail, and backstabbing nastiness, mix vigorously with high style and expressionist flourishes, and you've got the most potent melodrama cocktail of the 1950s. Stack twists his arch delivery into the practiced bravado of a boozing womanizer nursing an inferiority complex while Malone sashays and flirts her way through an Oscar-winning performance as a slutty, sassy good-time girl. It's so over the top that it might seem kitschy at first glance, but former theater director Sirk subtly shades his vision in the shadows of film noir and uses the portentous angles and gaudy color to create a vivid, vivacious world of glossy surfaces and social masks cracking under the pressure of responsibility and the pain of lost love. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

Bathed in lurid Technicolor, melodrama maestro Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind is the stylishly debauched tale of a Texas oil magnate brought down by the excesses of his spoiled offspring. Features an all-star quartet that includes Robert Stack as a pistol-packin' alcoholic playboy; Lauren Bacall as his long-suffering wife; Rock Hudson as his earthy best friend; and Dorothy Malone (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar© for her performance) as his nymphomaniac sister.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall star and Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone support in this quintessential 1950s Technicolor melodrama by the Master, imported German director Douglas Sirk. The plot involves a wealthy oil heir (Stack), the secretary (Bacall) loved by both him and his best friend (Hudson) and a bad-girl sister (Malone, in an Oscar-winning role). But neither the story nor the acting are really very good. What makes this film interesting to watch is the cinematography under Sirk's inspired direction, complete with twisted angles, and the symbolic use of color, mise-en-scene, and mirrors. Edward Platt, "Chief" from TV's "Get Smart" also appears as a doctor. The DVD extras are slight for a Criterion Collection, no featurette or commentary track. There is only a lengthy text discussion that allows you to scroll through descriptions and sometimes stills from all of Sirk's films. This text discussion is well-written and well-researched but will take you a long time to scroll through, and the often redundant images of production stills and lobby cards will make you frustrated. All in all, this DVD is worth watching, though I doubt you would want to view it over and over.
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3.0 out of 5 stars TRASHY POTBOILER..... Oct. 31 2002
If you like campy movies with name stars you might like this silly flick. A Texas oil tycoon's life is ruined by his grown children. Robert Stack is the alcoholic son, Rock Hudson is the family friend who left but came back with a dishwater dull wife (an unusually bland Lauren Bacall), but Dorothy Malone is outrageous as the unabashed nymphomaniac daughter out to seduce old childhood pal Hudson. She's practically the whole show and the only real life in this movie. Incredibly, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this. She tools around town in her little sports car picking up guys. She also does two wild mambos meant to show what a tramp her character is...one in a tight evening gown with huge cha-cha flounces on the bottom and the other in a Jezebel red chiffon lingerie number that shows her kicking her legs in wild abandon. Look out for that one! It's pure cheese on toast. In my opinion, she doesn't get enough to do in this movie. Otherwise, it's just a tedious excercise in overwrought melodrama. Trashy and campy but, except for Malone, too dull to be really enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Searching for potency amidst the oil derricks. June 11 2002
By A Customer
Criterion's 2nd soaper from Douglas Sirk, *Written on the Wind*, is not quite as superb as the other film, *All That Heaven Allows*. I refer to Sirk's own comment that the line between Art and Trash is very fine one. Here, the Trash element nearly obscures that line altogether: there are moments when it seems that we're simply watching a Technicolor rendition of *Dallas*. The story is preposterous in the TV-drama vein: a rich oil magnate's two spoiled-rotten adult children (Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone) indulge in self-destructive behavior whilst two interlopers (Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall) stand by helplessly and watch. Rock Hudson is the local boy from much less wealthy origins who befriends the brother and sister from childhood; Bacall is a secretary who Stack picks up and marries in a fit of attempted self-improvement. *Written on the Wind* makes sure that we like none of these people. Stack is a petulant, violent drunk, and his sister Malone is a nymphomaniac witch. As for Hudson and Bacall: Hudson, it soon becomes clear, rather enjoys his innate superiority over his childhood chums -- though that hardly prevents him from leeching off their prestige whenever it suits him. And Bacall, contra the reviewer just below me, is NOT intelligent or cool-headed -- she is obviously an airhead who has just enough sense to latch onto Stack's millions, despite the fact that she's dimly aware, right from the get-go, of what a destructive jerk he is. More than any other reason, the movie doesn't get 5 stars from me because of Hudson and Bacall, neither of whom were ever really good actors (the scenes with just the two of them are sort of tough to get through). Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Exquisitely elaborate." March 20 2002
Sexuality spills onto the screen with the ultimate representation of lush, lurid Technicolor, in Douglas Sirk's masterly exaggerated melodrama, with an endless list of sexual themes. The movie is hardly the polished soap-opera it's made out to be, because under the inch-thick layer of gloss and pulp perversity of the whole affair, there's an intrigiung story of family rivalrey. The movie also boasts a great cast, with a great mix of stars, which include Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Dorthey Malone, with Stack and Malone literally stealing the show as troubled siblings. The movie reminded me of [another movie], which was really B-movie material molded into a masterpiece by a genius filmmaker, which could also be said for this movie...he certainly constructs an excellent drama. "Written on the Wind" is one of the most sexually-charged, wickedly witty, and most exquisitely elaborate movies ever to be put on film, soaked in glorious shades of plush coloring. It will leave an indelible mark, so if you find an urge to wallow in a good romance, step into this vat of sexuality, immorality, and irony. Majestic!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A Tedious Melodrama
Before I begin, I will admit that I am a Rock Hudson fan, and he is the only reason why I watched this film. Read more
Published on July 23 2008 by Moodywoody
5.0 out of 5 stars MOURNING BECOMES MALONE......
Sure does, she never looked better in them black courthouse duds ..... perfect control, perfect character modulation ....quite an acting lesson! Read more
Published on July 18 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars A soap opera on the big screen
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This movie was groundbreaking in several ways. It can be descibed best as a soap opera. Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by Ted
3.0 out of 5 stars Hello! MeloDrama!
No one moves a muscle in this film without dramatic music swelling around them- the bright 'nothing looks like that in real life' technocolor lends a hand in decorating this fairly... Read more
Published on April 20 2004 by lady detective
5.0 out of 5 stars Revival needed!
Sirk, at his best. Melodrama, at its best. Acting, over the top. Music, awesome. Thanks for bringing Sirk type melodramas back, Hollywood. Liked "Far from Heaven" too. Read more
Published on July 30 2003 by Margaret Bauer
3.0 out of 5 stars Campy 'Fifties Technicolor melodrama
Uber-melodrama, '50s style, with adultery and scandal packaged in silly circumlocution. Lauren Bacall inexplicably falls for the super-creepy Robert Stack, who simply oozes... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2002 by DJ Joe Sixpack
2.0 out of 5 stars Stiff Dialogue and Fatuous Set-Up Sink the Film
Perhaps one of the most implausible set-ups I've ever seen in a film: An intelligent, attractive secretary played by Lauren Bacall becomes, inexplicably, drawn to an unctuous, rich... Read more
Published on June 6 2002 by M. JEFFREY MCMAHON
5.0 out of 5 stars Sirk
This is Douglas Sirk's masterpiece. To explain it to you would be to rob you of the joy of seeing it for the first time. Read more
Published on March 18 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Melodramatic portrait of masculinity in 1950s America
It might just be because melodrama is out of fashion now, but I wonder why this film was being made in 1956. Wasn't the world reeling to the sounds of Bill Haley and Elvis by then? Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2001 by D. M. Farmbrough
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