WRITTEN ON THE WIND
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone
Approx. 99 min. DCP.
"You made me small in my father's eyes. You made my sister spit at me. Then you stole my wife." It's tough being heir to a Texas oil fortune, or so it seems for psycho son Robert Stack and trampy daughter Dorothy Malone; but while Malone pursues indifferent family friend Rock Hudson, a seemingly stable Stack prepares for fatherhood with New York bride Lauren Bacall — but as the boozing mounts, rumors of impotence and infidelity fly and it's time to reach for that gun. Sirk's most contemporaneously acclaimed work garnered Oscar nominations for both Sirk and Malone, with Dorothy bringing home the gold — in lieu of the mini-oil-derrick she's clutching in the final scene.
“Sirk's most full-blossomed achievement may well be his 1956 film WRITTEN ON THE WIND... His vision of the self-consuming whirlwind is anchored by a still and unshakeable philosophical center, even if, in WRITTEN ON THE WIND finding it is a narrative version of Where's Waldo? Yet that very elusiveness of originary inspiration is itself part of Sirk's ironic genius.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“[Sirk] is both a supreme stylist of the cinema, and one whose mise en scène is always in touch with his characters, carrying in image the emotion they fail to articulate in so many words. As he says of the penultimate shot in WRITTEN ON THE WIND: 'Malone has lost everything. And I have put a sign there indicating this—Malone, alone, sitting there hugging that goddammed oil well, having nothing. The oil well which is, I think, a rather frightening symbol of American society.'”
– Laura Mulvey, Criterion Collection