Written On The Wind Review

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Probably the best known of Sirk's films, Written On The Wind is a 1956 Hollywood melodrama concentrating on the frustrations of non-achievers, bitter and resentful at their inability to pull themselves out of the mire of personal and relationship failure.

Hudson is geologist Mitch Wayne, a level-headed and supportive kinda guy who has grown up with the wealthy Hadley family: oil tycoon father (Robert Keith) and his offspring, Kyle (Stack) and Marylee (Malone). Kyle is a playboy with all the accessories, including a bit of a drink problem. Marylee has the same tendency, not surprising considering she's stuck alone in the Hadley mansion all day with nothing to do, and only her unrequited passion for Mitch for company. Life changes for Kyle when he meets and marries Lucy (Bacall), until he learns he may never be able to father children and turns back to the bottle with ultimately tragic consequences.

With solid performances from Hudson and Bacall in equally solid, if low-key roles, Sirk allows the troubled siblings to take the limelight. Both Stack and Malone won Oscar nominations for their performances as the brother and sister who, despising themselves and each other, manipulate everyone around them, their frustration increasing even as they fight it with bad behaviour - all the while their misery and anger distorts them almost into caricatures.

Though glossy, Sirk's film is tightly structured, with a creative manipulation of light and reflection, and heavy with the symbolism of male destructiveness. Unflinching in its often ugly revelation of character and consequence, it's an intense and powerful film well worthy of this re-release.