Having been absolutely blown away by Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Imitation of Life (1959), I was really eager to give Written on the Wind a second look (and first in a very long time), given that many consider it to be his very finest work. It’s certainly his most visually sumptuous that I’ve seen, with extraordinarily bright color schemes mirroring the ever-changing moods of its leads: an aging but still sexy Lauren Bacall as Lucy Moore Hadley, Robert Stack (Unsolved Mysteries!) as the alcoholic-and-possibly-sterile womanizer-turned-doting-husband Kyle Hadley, and Rock Hudson as Mitch Wayne, the loyal friend and business partner who can never quite nudge his way into prominence or the spotlight. Where it can’t measure up to the previous two works is emotionally: those were powerhouses, tearing me to shreds with their social commentary and unforgettable characters. The melodrama is laid on just right. In Written on the Wind, it’s almost too much, like Sirk couldn’t help himself: as such, while it’s still touching at times and boasts plenty of impressive scenes, it’s also occasionally so over-the-top as to inspire giggles, and while those moments aren’t that prevalent, they do keep this sweeping tragedy from consistently yanking us into the trio’s passionate worlds. Far more strengths than weaknesses, but I can’t put it close to his aforementioned twin masterpieces. Next up on the Sirk agenda: some rare goodies from the 40′s and 50′s!