Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1956. Universal International Pictures. Screenplay by George Zuckerman, based on the novel by Robert Wilder. Cinematography by Russell Metty. Produced by Albert Zugsmith. Music by Frank Skinner. Production Design by Robert Clatworthy, Alexander Golitzen. Costume Design by Bill Thomas, Jay A. Morley Jr.. Film Editing by Russell F. Schoengarth. Academy Awards 1956. Golden Globe Awards 1956. Podcast: My Criterions.
Douglas Sirk’s gorgeously photographed drama is sort of like Giant on a much smaller scale. It tells of a Texas oil family whose son and daughter (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone) bring their clan to ruin with their morally corrupt ways. Lauren Bacall stars as the northern outsider who wins Stack’s heart and marries him before he succumbs to drinking and paranoia, all the while his best friend (Rock Hudson) looks on with jealousy over the woman he loved first. Malone, on the other hand, wants Hudson badly, but in the event that she can’t have him decides to have public trysts with all sorts of lowly men all over town. Photography is gorgeous, and the atmosphere is set just at the perfect level of soap operatic melodrama, not too realistic, but not too cheesy either.