Tag: Douglas Sirk

August 10, 2015 / / Main Slate

imitation-of-life-footrub

1959 is often considered to be a time of historical change, particularly in the history of film. The numerical end to the “50s” was the waning period of the Eisenhower administration, and with the rise to popularity of John F. Kennedy, a generational shift seemed in the works. Conveniently, 1959 is also tossed up as the true end of the classic Hollywood studio system and the “golden age” to which it has been retroactively referred. However valid that distinction is, 1959 was definitively the end of the career of Douglas Sirk, who retired after the release of his landmark film IMITATION OF LIFE. The film proved to be the final gem of an under-heralded career still unknown to many, even those with a strong interest in film.

August 7, 2015 / / Special Pages
August 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Kris Tronerud

All That Heaven Allows • 1955 •  Directed by Douglas Sirk

Kay: Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that old Egyptian custom of walling up the widow alive in the funeral chambers of her dead husband … Of course it doesn’t happen anymore.
Cary: Doesn’t it?
— Jane Wyman and Gloria Talbott in All That Heaven Allows

In 1937, successful German Theater director Detlef Sierck, along with his Jewish wife, actress Hilde Jary, was denounced to authorities by a vengeful ex-wife, and forced to flee 1937 Germany; with little else but moxie and a considerable European reputation, the newly christened Douglas Sirk quickly found work in wartime Hollywood, starting out, appropriately enough, with an anti-Nazi potboiler, Hitler’s Madmen. Sirk, however, might well have been remembered simply for a long string of colorful, quirky, better-than average programmers, were it not for his fortunate teaming with an inordinately supportive studio and an equally sympathetic producer: of the 23 (!) consecutive films he made at Universal, four made for kindred spirit Ross Hunter (Magnificent Obsession {1954}, All That Heaven Allows {1955}, Written on the Wind {1956} and Imitation of Life {1959} form the core of his American work; of these, All That Heaven Allows is the undisputed masterpiece.