I just received my Screening Schedule of Nominated Films for the Academy Awards. I immediately opened my calendar and began to determine which films I wanted to see. Of course, the films selected are all remarkable. They all share a clear vision, high production values, and world-class performances. But my taste in film, like my food, tends to be rather plebian. Maybe it’s my time warp problem that I somehow walk through life in a bubble of 1955.
Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956, is my idea of a film that has everything. If you ever watched Dynasty or Dallas you get the idea of the plot: big oil family, spoiled kids, hardworking good guy best friend, alcoholics, pregnant women falling down stairs, slutty bleach blonde sister, good girl trying to make things right. The Technicolor is extreme. I want my life to be lit like this. Everyone deserves blue backlighting, pink spots on the sofa, and fake dappled tree leaf shadows. The penultimate scene is a masterpiece of editing. Bad girl spoiled sister, Dorothy Malone, does the mambo in her room while wearing a negligee. She plays her record player at top volume, as her self-made hard working father has a heart attack and falls down the stairs. She was so good in this that she won an Academy Award. So I ask, why don’t people make films like this today? Groundbreaking CG animation is swell, but a mambo, negligee, and heart attack? Is there a better combination?