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Written on the Wind

Written on the Wind

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Written on the Wind  On 24 October 1955, the hard-work geologist of the Hadley Oil Company Mitch Wayne meets the executive secretary Lucy Moore in the office of her boss Bill Ryan in New York and invites her to go to a conference with the alcoholic playboy and son of a tycoon Kyle Hadley. On the way of the meeting, he confesses that they had traveled from Houston to New York to satisfy the wish of the reckless Kyle, who is his best friend since their childhood, of eating a sandwich from club 21 and the meeting was just a pretext to Kyle’s father Jasper Hadley. Mitch and Kyle immediately fall in love for Lucy, and Kyle unsuccessfully uses his money to impress Lucy; then he opens his heart and proposes Lucy. They get married and travel to Acapulco and the insecure Kyle stops drinking. Meanwhile, Kyle’s sister Marylee is an easy woman and has a non-corresponded crush on Mitch that sees her as a sister. One year later, Kyle discovers that he has a problem and might be sterile and starts drinking again. Kyle…who hid his secret behind a bottle and a hundred million dollars!

Top notch melodrama that engages despite existing in a sort of Dallas/Dynasty reality

Written on the Wind  Mitch Wayne comes from a working family, but his childhood friendship with the children of oil magnate Hadley sees him continuing within the family and the family business as an adult. Kyle is his best friend, but is a spoilt playboy as a result of his money and privilege. When the two meet Lucy, they both fall for her but, as usual, it is Kyle that gets her attention and quickly marries her. Lucy joins the family home to find a spiteful and spoilt daughter, Marylee, who dislikes her but longs for the childish affection she still holds for Mitch. Against a background of money and privilege, tensions and emotions build between the friends and family.

Normally when I call something melodramatic it is a criticism but for those looking for melodrama that is well delivered then often Douglas Sirk is as good a place to look as any. This film is a fine example but I’ll be the first to admit that the plot summary on paper does make it sound like the soapiest load of daytime TV filler ever! However the delivery is everything and the film succeeds in making the story and characters engaging. It is hard to describe well, but the story doesn’t really happen in reality but rather in a sort of melodrama world of high emotions and I didn’t expect it to draw me in. Part of the reason it did was down to Sirk’s writing and direction. He creates this convincing world where everyone fits in and it all seems real.

Of course of the biggest factors is the cast, for it is starry and impressive. I’ve never been that taken by Hudson but he is a sturdy and manly lead actor here, even if he has the less showy material to work with. Bacall is strong and controls a great deal of the emotional core of the film. The main melodramatic flair comes from two other good performances. It was hard for me to get past the Stack I know from Airplane but he is very good here and descends well across the film. Likewise Malone plays her character well. As with many Sirk films, the cinematography, the look, of the film is important and this one expertly captures the feel of the fifties but doesn’t look dated in a bad way – it still feels quite fresh and lively.

Overall this is a melodrama and if the very thought of that puts you off then you’d best avoid it. However it is a fine story that engages well even as it exists above reality. The cast are impressive with their material and are a big part of making it convincing and engaging. Written on the Wind

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