***"Written on the Wind.”
MCA. $29.95. 1956.
Alcoholism, nymphomania, infidelity, miscarriages, scandal and death in a Texas city--where oil derricks rise above the sterile plains, where juke boxes roar and neon blazes across the tracks, where lechery and murder rear their ugly heads in the plush confines of the rich and guilty. This is the greatest of all the ‘50s soap operas, with two magnetically over-the-top performances by Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, as a rich, drunken wastrel and his sluttish sister. (Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall are two more rational lovers who watch this hysteria, appalled.) Passionate, full-blown melodrama handled with cool mastery by Douglas Sirk, who wanted to adapt writers like Chekhov, Faulkner and Thomas Mann, but was usually forced to work with scripts out of Lloyd C. Douglas, Fanny Hurst and, here, Robert Wilder. Sirk, in uncanny ways, usually managed to transform low kitsch into something near high art. His method: Take the inherent craziness of the material and look it full in the face.