Written on the Wind
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Written by George Zuckerman based on a novel by Robert Wilder
Universal International Pictures
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#321 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Marylee Hadley: I’m filthy – period!
Dorothy Malone matches the Technicolor in outrageous intensity! This melodrama is a lot of trashy fun.
Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) is an alcoholic playboy and ne’er-do-well. He is the heir to a vast Texas oil fortune earned by his level-headed father (Robert Keith). Old man Hadley had tried to tame his son by also raising the smarter, handsomer, more capable, but poor Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson). But now the father is at the point on giving up on both of his children including his wild daughter Marylee, who spends her time drinking in dives and picking up men.
As the film begins, Mitch meets Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall), an executive secretary at a fashion magazine owned by the Hadley empire. He takes her to meet Kyle and Kyle decides to make her his latest conquest by plying her with presents. But Lucy is not about to be conquered this way. She leaves the playboy flat and he reconsiders and opens up to her. They fall in love and marry and for awhile it looks like she is straightening him out.
In the meantime, we find out that Marylee has been in love with Mitch since she was a girl. A lot of her acting out is done out of spite. But Mitch thinks of her as his sister and is secretly in love with Lucy. The story builds to a crescendo as the sibling rivalry (counting Mitch as one of the siblings) plays out in the most dramatic way possible.
I have mentioned my favorite parts of this film – the eye-popping color and Malone. I just love that bright red convertible Marylee drives and Kyle’s orange sportscar. Marylee’s costumes are also fabulous. The scenery, especially the autumn foliage by a river, is also glorious. Malone takes her character straight over the top in the most enjoyable way possible. I love her mambo or whatever it was. Recommended for fans of this kind of thing.
Dorothy Malone won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was nominated in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Stack) and Best Music, Original Song (“Written on the Wind”).