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Written on the Wind (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Bathed in lurid Technicolor, melodrama maestro Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind is the stylishly debauched tale of a Texas oil magnate brought down by the excesses of his spoiled offspring. Features an all-star quartet that includes Robert Stack as a pistol-packin' alcoholic playboy; Lauren Bacall as his long-suffering wife; Rock Hudson as his earthy best friend; and Dorothy Malone (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar© for her performance) as his nymphomaniac sister.

Special Features

  • The Melodrama Archive: A Douglas Sirk filmography featuring rare production and publicity stills, behind-the-scenes photos and vintage lobby cards
  • Exclusive liner notes by noted film theorist Laura Mulvey

Product Details

  • Actors: Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Robert Keith
  • Directors: Douglas Sirk
  • Writers: George Zuckerman, Robert Wilder
  • Producers: Albert Zugsmith
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2001
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005BCK0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,912 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Written on the Wind (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall star and Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone support in this quintessential 1950s Technicolor melodrama by the Master, imported German director Douglas Sirk. The plot involves a wealthy oil heir (Stack), the secretary (Bacall) loved by both him and his best friend (Hudson) and a bad-girl sister (Malone, in an Oscar-winning role). But neither the story nor the acting are really very good. What makes this film interesting to watch is the cinematography under Sirk's inspired direction, complete with twisted angles, and the symbolic use of color, mise-en-scene, and mirrors. Edward Platt, "Chief" from TV's "Get Smart" also appears as a doctor. The DVD extras are slight for a Criterion Collection, no featurette or commentary track. There is only a lengthy text discussion that allows you to scroll through descriptions and sometimes stills from all of Sirk's films. This text discussion is well-written and well-researched but will take you a long time to scroll through, and the often redundant images of production stills and lobby cards will make you frustrated. All in all, this DVD is worth watching, though I doubt you would want to view it over and over.
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Format: DVD
This is one of the most clever, metaphorical, and stunning movies ever made. I have not seen many other films that are this flawless. Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and Lauren Bacall are all perfectly cast - Robert Stack in particular is very effective (and believable) as this spoiled son of a texas oil hancho who turns to alcohol for his failed personal relationships (impotence). If you are a fan of Fassbinder, Almodovar, or John Waters you know just how inspirational Douglas Sirk's film is - truly a masterpiece.
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By A Customer on March 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is director Douglas Sirk's masterpiece, a brilliant work of cinema that functions as both a fiery melodrama and a piece of cool, detached irony. It all depends on how much subtext you want to read into this story of an impotent, alcoholic Texas oil baron and his middle-class nemesis. Although Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall are little more than vacant statues filling up cinematic space, Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack more than compensate with rich, over-the-top performances that leave you shaking your head in disbelief. That Sirk could get away with this sort of storytelling audacity within the rigid confines of 1950s Hollywood says much about his skill as an artist, just as it does about his desire to bend film genres to the breaking point. He never quite gets there, though, which is what makes his films so fascinating and multi-layered. This is a flick for both film buffs and casual moviegoers. Not to be missed.
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Format: DVD
Who is/was Douglas Sirk? That's the question I asked when I saw that my favorite dvd production company was releasing this film. Danish born, German raised and transplanted to Hollywood in the late '30s, Sirk was an enormously literate and well-educated man of the theater who knew how to conjure up film magic from what on paper seemed like pretty trashy, unpromising material. 'Written on the Wind' is acknowledged as one of his best, and the story is pure over-the-top nonsense. A lesser director would have made a complete hash of this, but Sirk is a visual virtuoso, and he coaxes great performances from his actors. I was REALLY taken by this film; not only does it look fantastic in this Criterion release, but also because like all worthwhile stuff there are some piercing, not altogether pleasant truths lurking amongst the melodrama. Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone are wildly good, and Sirk's worldly eye cuts right through to some real malaise among those folk who supposedly have it all. A film I would probably not seen but for Criterion's relentless pursuit of lesser-known cinematic gems. The extras on this disc are enjoyable, and they put me onto the excellent book 'Sirk on Sirk', (out of print but purchased through Amazon's ZShops at a great price).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Presented here in an excellent DVD from Criterion, Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind may well have been primarily aimed at cashing in on the huge success of Warners' blockbuster Giant, directed by George Stevens. Both films deal with the doings of Texas millionaires; not so coincidentally, both films star Rock Hudson. But Giant has dated badly, and its epic pretensions seem woefully bloated today. It's forgivable to have made a Classic Comics adaptation of War and Peace as King Vidor did, but far less pardonable to have adapted an Edna Ferber potboiler as it were War and Peace. By contrast, Sirk's lurid melodrama remains a highly entertaining, if at times overwrought vehicle. Certainly Universal-International and Sirk made no bones about catering to the audience's fantasies in depicting the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But in a country where the difference between movie audiences and the rich and famous has often been only one of money, Written on the Wind by no means lacks a basis in reality. The movie's action effectively dramatizes the daydreams many people would act out if they suddenly had the wealth of the Hadley family in this film.
Based on a novel by Robert Wilder, Written on the Wind reprises a plot motif that had appeared before in Vincente Minelli's Undercurrent and Max Ophul's Caught, recounting the fate of a young woman who unwarily marries an unbalanced wealthy man probably modeled upon Howard Hughes. Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack), an alcoholic playboy given to sleeping with a pistol under his pillow, is the heir to an oil fortune who weds Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall) and takes her back to the family homestead with the intent of continuing the Hadley dynasty.
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