(above) The happy-go-lucky “Sirk ensemble” from All That Heaven Allows: Russell Metty, Agnes Moorehead, Sirk, Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Ross Hunter, and dialogue director Jack Davis.
A CRITICAL SURVEY
Being a “cineaste maudit” entails being classified and even acclaimed as such. Until 1970 or so, it was Douglas Sirk’s misfortune to be frequently “consecrated” as an auteur, for sheer lack of objective analyses. A certain quasi-mystical, irrational and anti-critical enthusiasm did as much to prevent a careful study and precise evaluation of Sirk as did the ignorance displayed by the majority.
The following examples speak for themselves. Fifteen years ago, Coursodon and Boisset asked: “What does Douglas Sirk hold in store for us, this sixty-one year old, dazzling Danish film-maker whom we strongly suspect of directing his films from the top of a tank, a demonic smile on his lips and a stick of dynamite in his hand?” One might excuse the error, a fairly common one at the time, of turning Sirk into a “Dane,” although he was born in Germany, where he completed almost all his studies, and although he was active there for a long time, as a journalist and as a stage and screen director. When he left Hollywood after a stay of twenty years, it was in Germany that he settled down. Today, he lives in Switzerland. But the picture which Boisset and Coursodon trace of Sirk in no way corresponds to reality; it is closer to a description of Fuller than of Sirk, as the latter is a highly intellectual director, being literary and sophisticated as well as, on occasion, physical and violent. Moreover, what the “dazzling Danish film-maker” had in store in 1960 was a serious illness, a return to a few theatre productions and then, definitive retirement.
Sirk’s admirers have done him as much disservice as those who forgot him. In the Dictionnaire du Cinema published by Editions Universitaires, 1965, Patrick Bachau, after an interesting passage on the decadent and autumnal quality of the Sirkian universe, stakes everything on his own personal discovery of the high point of Sirk’s work, which, in his case, happens to be Captain Lightfoot (1955, below right). Regaling us with an account of his favorite film, Bachau refers to “a happy, humorous adventure story about the Scottish rebellion” with “the little moorland villages, the harps, the scarecrows, the pubs reeking of ale, and the fields of Scotland.” In fact, Captain Lightfoot tells of an episode in the Irish struggle against the English, and the entire film is suffused with a totally Irish atmosphere about which Sirk himself has spoken at length (in the interview published in Cahiers du Cinema). Bachau is the only one to be taken in by the harp; perhaps he was simply thinking of Brigadoon.
One could go on adding to the list, but it would be preferable to underline the few happy exceptions. Jean-Luc Godard’s enthusiasm (“Tears and speed,” a review of Time to Love in Cahiers du Cinema no. 94, April 1959, English translation in Screen) may not be very “critical” but it is refreshingly free from the cliché “demonic.” However, not until 1967 does the situation take a noticeable turn for the better — eight years, that is, after Sirk’s last film. Studio-Action in Paris organized in that year the first partial retrospective of Sirk’s films, and Cahiers du Cinema simultaneously devoted a special number to the director (no. 189, April 1967) which contains a good thematic study by Jean-Louis Comolli (“The blind man and the mirror”), a fascinating interview and a filmography. In 1968, Andrew Sarris, who embodies a “prima della revoluzione” Cahiers tendency, made the following just observation in The American Cinema: “Time, if nothing else, will vindicate Douglas Sirk, as it has already vindicated Josef von Sternberg.” In 1971, Jon Halliday published Sirk on Sirk in the series Cinema One, Seeker and Warburg, a work which is generally recognized as being the supreme example of the book-length interview with a director. Screen, the magazine for English educationalists using both film and television, devoted in its turn a special number to the director (volume 12, no. 2, Summer 1971). Finally, there is the 1972 Edinburgh Film Festival Booklet, edited by Jon Halliday and Laura Mulvey, which accompanied a retrospective of some twenty Sirk films and contains both reprints and new material. The fourth issue of Monogram contains two articles on Sirk and a review of Jon Halliday’s book.
The field covered by the special number of Screen is much wider than that in the corresponding Cahiers issue. In addition, the critical approach is rather different. In the Cahiers, both Comolli’s article and the interview with Sirk emphasize themes and certain stylistic features. Screen adopts a dualistic point of view (outlined in Sam Rohdie’s editorial) which is at times historical, and at others, more formalistic. In the second part, which deals with Sirk’s American films, it is Fred Camper who gets the lion’s share, since he is the author of a general article and of an analysis of The Tarnished Angels. Dave Grosz, in his analysis of The First Legion (1951), uses very similar premises to systematize Camper’s method. However, these highly interesting articles call for some modifying criticism. The claim is made that their formalism is justified by Sirk’s films themselves. The films are described as “pure schemas of light and shadow” (pp. 73, 83, and 88), supposedly distinguishing themselves by their “falsity,” or, rather, their irreality (p. 48), and by their “lack of depth” (p. 51), with the result that they ultimately have no subject but themselves (p. 58), this very falsity, this platitude/flatness. Camper and Grosz are not just concerned with pointing out, yet again, the frequency of reflections and mirrors in Sirk’s films. They maintain that all the images of these films have the same fundamental character, and that these images do not establish any distinction between foreground and background; being pure surfaces of color, they grant all power to “objects” and finally spell out the death of the individual person. In his turn, the individual is transformed into an object, a colored surface, a reflection. Each shot reflects the rest of the film, that is, of a reflection. And each film is no more than the reflection of a reflection: “As Sirk’s films are ‘about’ themselves, one finally has a feeling that his real meaning is in the actual style or general space or state of being of which all his objects are a part. The difference between different objects is finally only a localized one, simply a specific materialization, one possible way of seeing, the general space” (p. 58).
It seems to us that such analyses certainly have their use, like the phonetic analysis of a poetic text. However, to claim that these patterns of shadow and light definitively constitute the meaning of the film itself is to betray a certain shortsightedness. If we accept that this judgment is more appropriate to some films than others, then it would seem to apply to Sternberg rather than to Sirk. Sternberg himself sometimes encouraged the viewer to look on his film as a “pure pattern of light and shadow,” and it is no coincidence that Fred Camper has also written an article on the “visual style” of Dishonored.1 Nevertheless, when Camper speaks of Sternberg, he distinguishes in the surfaces of light and shadow a signifier which relates to the psychology of the people in the film. He does not go so far as to state that they are “worn-out, visual trivia,” mere kaleidoscopes, where the variety of images harks back incessantly to the same central and peripheral void.
How are we to reconcile this play of reflections with the highly articulated dramatic structure of Sirk’s films? (The same question applies to Sternberg.) In fact, Camper’s analysis centers around a single text, or texture, among the several which constitute the whole — from the cameraman’s text which can vary from pure typography (aiming at self-effacement and at the exclusive legibility of other texts, narrative, gestural, etc.) to the illumination which proliferates, overlaps and even empties the other texts of their meaning. But as it happens, we do not consider that this constitutes the prime interest of Sirk’s films: far from it. Moreover, it is very striking that Camper, dazzled by the visual aspect, completely forgets the role played by music in the films. Music is most important in Sirk’s work: he, at least, does not need to be reminded of the fact that “melodrama” means “drama accompanied by music.”
The comparison between Sirk and Sternberg, implicit in Sarris’ remark, is a sound one. Both directors were fascinated by the theme of the look, and hence, by that of blindness. In his autobiography, Fun in a Chinese Laundry, Sternberg talks of a film “about a blind girl and a deaf-mute which he would have liked to make, the point of view being that of a girl who had never been able to see.” (p. 207) And Sirk himself said to Cahiers du Cinema: “One of my most cherished plans was to make a film where the action would take place in a home for the blind.” Faced with Sternberg’s and with Sirk’s films, many misguided critics have seen themes belonging to a certain “decadent romanticism,” themes which found particular expression in the titles themselves. On this point, however, it is as well to be on one’s guard, as the director himself might not be at all responsible for the strident title (in his autobiography, Sternberg disowns the titles “Dishonored” and “The Devil is a Woman”; as for Sirk, it is obvious that he was infinitely less free than Sternberg in this respect).
At the same time, more perceptive critics (but only just!) have seen in Sternberg and in Sirk nothing but plastic qualities, refusing to consider that their films have any trace of meaning. This was Luc Moullet’s attitude yesterday, in Cahiers du Cinema; it is what Fred Camper does today — in a far more elaborate way. It is a formalist illusion which ignores the possibility of a more subtle relationship, not between “content” and “form,” but between the “subject” (c.f. Coursodon-Boisset) and its stylistic treatment (c.f. Moullet or Camper), a relationship which in itself constitutes both the form and the content of the film. In this context, Paul Willemen’s short article, “Distanciation and Douglas Sirk” (in the same issue of Screen) is a sound contribution and we should like to recapitulate its conclusions.
Faithful to his past activity as stage director (that is, to the Expressionist concept of production so much in vogue at the time in Russia and in Germany), Sirk brings about a distanciation in his melodramatic material by stylization and parody. By systematically using the cliché-image he creates a distance, not between the film and the public (women ply their hankies at Sirk’s films), but between the film and the director. This distanciation does not, as Camper seems to think, bestow a mysterious “power on objects,” but invests the material with a symbolic function. It gives the material a meaning, or situates the meaning in the look which is directed on it; it is the perspective which “contains” the subject as a symbolic one, and not as naively real. To take an example, All That Heaven Allows is neither a naive sentimental story, nor a self-sufficient kaleidoscope, as two different readings would have us believe. On the one hand, there is the “soap-opera” interpretation; on the other, there is Camper’s, an exegesis based on the noble savage’s aesthetics. In fact, the film is a parable. Its value is exhortatory and symbolic and in no way realistic (illusion no. 1) or decorative (illusion no. 2). The last magnificent shot of the deer in the snow, an example of the “clichés” discussed by Willemen, symbolizing the lovers’ reunion in Nature’s setting, their fusion with Nature, completely invalidates Camper’s thesis about the animal-shots at the end of Sirk’s films. Far from destroying the reality of the characters, the emblematic and symbolic function of the animal-shot elevates the latter to a higher plane of reality — to the level of art, which is to “real life” something akin to the projection of desire.
THE AUTEUR, THE STUDIO, THE GENRE
Among the problems largely ignored in the Sirk issues of Cahiers du Cinema and Screen, we should point out the relationships between the “auteur,” the studio, and the genre. Indeed, although several films of Sirk’s German career (La Habanera), or of his first American period have their defenders (Summer Storm, Scandal in Paris, Lured, etc.), it is nevertheless true that it is the films of the later American period which constitute the most coherent, the most structured body of works (thematically and stylistically) and which provide the greater interest.
It must be remembered that this coherence was made possible thanks to a team which, in addition to Sirk himself, included a number of collaborators from the Universal studio. Even the subject matter was sometimes drawn from the house repertory. Sirk directed three remakes of John M. Stahl films: Magnificent Obsession (1954) is a remake of a film of the same name (1935); Interlude is based on When Tomorrow Comes (1939); and Imitation of Life (1959) again on a film of the same name (1934, above).2 Now, while a certain similarity is said to exist between Stahl’s films and those of Sirk, the latter admits to having had at the time no knowledge of Stahl’s works: “Sirk knew nothing about Stahl when Magnificent Obsession was put up to him. This film, like Interlude (based on When Tomorrow Comes) and Imitation of Life were all given to him as treatments of the Stahl scripts. Sirk never ever saw Stahl’s Magnificent Obsession or When Tomorrow Comes; he saw Imitation of Life after he had finished his own. The only influence is indirect: the studio using its old properties, Sirk receiving them as treatments of the old scripts.”3 So we have here either an exceptional coincidence — the meeting of two personalities after an interval of twenty or twenty-five years — or the stamp of the studio as co-auteur.
Ross Hunter produced ten of Sirk’s films; and for ten films also, Russell Metty was the photographer. Frank Skinner wrote the music for thirteen films by Sirk. These facts are well known. It is essential to point out the very important contribution made by the same team of stage designers, particularly that of art director Alexander Golitzen (thirteen films), and of Russell A. Gausman, who was responsible for the set decorations on twenty Sirk films. Both of them worked for Universal for a considerable time, specializing in the color film, in historical or fantastic decors as opposed to the realistic or contemporary (they were awarded an Oscar for the color and decor of Arthur Lubin’s The Phantom of the Opera, 1943, and collaborated on Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960). European decor is another of their strong points. (Golitzen is Russian by birth. He was co-art designer with Gausman for Max Ophuls’ Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1948, sometimes described as “the most European film ever made in Hollywood”). The comparison between Sirk and Ophuls, like that between Sirk and Sternberg, is far from being accidental.
The very existence of such a team seems to correspond to the great ingeniousness of Universal (the distributors of Letter from an Unknown Woman). One recalls their non-realistic, fantastic productions of the ’30s. It was Universal which, before employing Sirk, welcomed Ulmer, another European of Germanic culture with experience of the theatre (he was, of course, one of Max Reinhardt’s assistants). Before dealing with the studio “as auteur,” it would be preferable to have a more thorough knowledge of Sirk’s first American films (most of the latter were produced by United Artists), as well as of Ulmer’s films and those made for Fox or Universal by John Stahl, John Brahm (another German who had had a brilliant career in the theatre before moving to cinema direction), and Hugo Haas.4
It might be said, a little schematically, that Haas’ case is diametrically opposed to Sirk’s. The Czech Haas presents a more independent profile as an “auteur” than Sirk. He too was surrounded by a team. It was comprised of the associate producer Robert Erlik, the designer Rudi Feld, the actress Cleo Moore (a strange coincidence: at the beginning of their respective American careers, Hugo Haas plays in Sirk’s Summer Storm, whose designer was none other than Rudi Feld). But Haas’ work, in spite of its very personal themes, is almost entirely devoid of style. The intention is more interesting than the outcome. Hold Back Tomorrow (Universal, 1956, above) is a Z picture with the pretensions of an artistic masterpiece, flourishing Haas’ signature as script-writer, producer, and director. Sirk proves somewhat more modest and could not be considered responsible for the material he treated, some of which he detested.5) On screen, however, the film might be less “personal” but it is infinitely more meaningful than Haas’ idiosyncrasies.
One of the innovations of the “Douglas Sirk ensemble” is the near-systematic use of color, and, to a lesser degree, of the big screen for the treatment of romantic drama. Of course, there were certain precedents, particularly Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven (1945), with the same use of violent colors, symbolizing the moral world of the characters, as are used in Written on the Wind or Imitation of Life. However, this utilization of color seems to us to have the same purpose as Universal’s recourse to period sets. At Universal, Sirk applies to the melodrama the non-realistic and symbolical color schemes which are traditionally reserved for the fantastic genre — for example, The Phantom of the Opera — mentioned above.
To complete this portrait of a collective auteur (bearing the name of Douglas Sirk, since it is obviously he who provides the meaningful focal point of the combined Universal contribution), one should note the homage paid by George Zuckerman, who considers that his two best scripts were done for Sirk: he has stated that not only did he prefer to work for Sirk, but that it was Sirk who gave him the greatest freedom.6
This type of situation would appear to present two problems which are complementary to each other. First, there is the problem of the relative value of the comedies and the musical comedies which Sirk also made for Universal before going on to melodrama. Second, there is the problem of the quality of the melodramas made by the same team-less Sirk. In both these cases, a third factor is involved: in addition to the auteur and the studio, the genre itself intervenes. As far as the first point is concerned, it must be admitted, in all honesty, that the comedies (musical or other), while not devoid of interest, do not exert the fascination of the later melodramas. The Lady Pays Off (1951) has some successful emotional moments between Linda Darnell and the little girl (Gigi Perreau) in her charge who thinks that Linda Darnell hates her. Weekend with Father (1951) presents typically American parents and children, with the children refereeing an absurd virility contest between Richard Denning and Van Heflin, and has echoes of the family comedies of McCarey and Minnelli. Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) is a very pleasant, Capra-style comedy; Take Me to Town (1952), with Sterling Hayden and Ann Sheridan, is made particularly enjoyable by the performances of the children playing “Bucket,” “Chuck” and “Mike,” and is interesting for its open-air amateur melodrama. Meet Me at the Fair (1952) has promising decors, while No Room for the Groom of the same year is a forerunner of the ecological fashion of the late ’60s, questioning the god of industrial expansion. Trick shots (The Lady Pays Off), or whole sequences of dream-fantasy (Meet Me at the Fair) do not suit an overall, conventional realism. What makes these comedies likeable are the occasional excursions into the world of childhood, some original viewpoints (“from” the child’s standpoint, rather than a view “on” childhood). There is a measure of thematic and stylistic unity in the film, and a distanciation in relation to the director (adult by implication), which anticipate to some degree more recent melodramas: Weekend with Father, for example, does have a certain resemblance to the first part of Imitation of Life.
The second problem I have defined may best be illustrated by works such as Never Say Goodbye, which, although signed by Jerry Hopper, figures in the Sirk filmography drawn up by Patrick Brion and Dominique Rabourdin for the Cahiers. Portrait in Black (1960) is another case in point: it was directed by Michael Gordon, but the big staircase seems to have come straight out of Written on the Wind. The same is true of Madame X (by David Lowell Rich, 1966), which Sirk was to have made and may have helped to prepare. Madame X also reminds us of Written on the Wind, if only because of its construction, with the coda of the trial; some camera movements and the use of color (the photographer is Russell Metty) are indistinguishable from Sirk’s and the dramatic staircase crops up again in Alexander Golitzen’s decor. However, the acting is feeble by comparison, as John Forsythe and Keir Dullea are both lacking in “distance.” But Lana Turner brings us back to familiar Sirkian territory (Imitation), while the themes of childhood and of the pastoral idyll (the nursery and the Dane’s garden) are beautifully presented, the whole accompanied by typical “melodramatic” music. Christian, the Dane, is a pianist, and the music is by Frank Skinner.
In one sense, then, the “auteur” is not only Sirk or Universal, but also the genre of the melodrama itself. At any rate, it is certain that, for an artist such as Sirk, this genre is a privileged one, and in my opinion, this is due to the same process or technique of distanciation spoken of by Willemen. In fact, it is an approach which proves particularly appropriate to markedly “melodramatic” and emotional subject matter. It is not a comic distanciation, which would only alienate the public, but one that is strictly ironic, using stylization to bring out the purity of the archetype as such, the cliché-image as the cliché-image. (This is also true of Sternberg and of Ophuls.) Sirk’s films are not only melodramas, but reflections on the melodrama, in the same way Blake Edwards’ films are (comic) reflections on the comedy. Sirk’s films are not about themselves, as Camper would have it, but about melodrama.
Although not fully clarified as yet, there is one point which might help to throw a little light on the question; this is the recurring appearances of the same actors in different films. (Rock Hudson, who appears in nine Sirk films, six of them melodramas, is the obvious example. And there is also the case of Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack who co-star in Written and in Tarnished.) As Sirk himself has said, Hudson is a mediocre actor who achieved a certain reputation thanks to the films in which he was directed by Sirk, but who has not fulfilled the signs of his early promise. Sirk had muted the century’s roar and had infused a soul into Hudson’s great body. Yet Hudson, the (sublime) embodiment of the “Wildermann” in Sirk, was to become the pitiful, flabby playboy of “sex comedies,” from Michael Gordon and Delbert Mann to Vadim (with one exception: Man’s Favorite Sport?, where his very flabbiness becomes, ironically, the mainspring of the film). Similarly, Robert Stack’s career, and that of Dorothy Malone, are typical examples of the way in which Sirk transforms a melodramatic subject into a parable: these actors perform a comparable, parabolic feat, emerging from banal adventure films to the heights of their collaboration with Sirk, afterwards returning whence they came.
While not responsible for the casting (it is becoming clear that this is not essential), Sirk knew how to “play on” well-known actors, by referring to a certain Hollywood tradition, as well as on the unknown. The Fred MacMurray/Barbara Stanwyck couple is one of Hollywood’s “old couples,” a factor which accentuates the nostalgia of their (dreamed of) idyll in There’s Always Tomorrow. They had been “seen together” back in 1940, in Mitchell Leisen’s Remember the Night, and again in Billy Wilder’s famous film noir Double Indemnity, 1945, of which Sirk’s melodrama seems to be the sensitive, negative print. Sirk multiplies the nostalgic allusions, whether it be an allusion to An American Tragedy or the use of “Blue Moon” as a leitmotiv. The result is that the presence of these and similar actors, instead of seeming forced, appears quite natural. Let me mention here that the Cahiers interview commits the howler of attributing the “discovery” of Barbara Stanwyck and of Rock Hudson (in 1952!) to Sirk. Now, apart from being a display of ignorance, this betrays a serious lack of understanding. In Sirk’s work, there are, on the one hand, actors who are very typed by their preceding roles (Barbara Stanwyck, and also Lana Turner in Imitation). On the other hand, there are unknown actors destined to become famous, and this makes people forget what the latter owe to Sirk and to the innocence, as it were, of their first screen appearance; such are Rock Hudson and also John Gavin.
Indeed, one of the essential factors contributing to the success of A Time to Love is the fact that the actors have not yet acquired actors’ faces. This is confirmed if one compares Sirk’s experience to the unfortunate one of another Remarque adaptor — who admits to his failure with good grace: Lewis Milestone. Here was a European whose sensitivity could well have been in harmony with Remarque’s, all the more so as he had made All Quiet on the Western Front. “My association with Enterprise Studios began when they offered to let me direct Arch of Triumph because of my former identification with the work of Erich Maria Remarque. . . One thing wrong with it was that it was supposed to be a realistic piece and it had two major stars in the leads. If you have two stars like that, then half your reality goes out of the window; all you have is another film with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.”7
Conversely, Godard proved very sensible to the exceptional charm of the actors in A Time to Love, John Gavin and Liselotte Pulver. (Mention should be made too of the use of Remarque’s own, unknown face.) In Imitation of Life John Gavin’s appearance has already undergone a change, and again, Sirk defines his aims by being at several removes from an established Hollywood tradition. The film is a remake (itself a reference to Hollywood), and its subject involves show-business (a reference to Broadway); he uses the familiar faces of Lana Turner and Mahalia Jackson. Here, too, Camper’s claim must be countered. If it is, strictly speaking, paradoxical to maintain that a film which features numerous mirrors is “two-dimensional,” since a mirror gives at least the illusion of perspective,8 there can be no doubt about the fact that, by these and similar references to Hollywood’s past, Sirk’s films acquire what may be termed a supplementary dimension. They seem “decorative” only if their implicit depth is ignored, that of the tradition of the Hollywood melodrama, of the archetypes of all melodrama.
CONCLUSION: IS SIRK AN “AUTEUR”?
We must ask ourselves if, and to what extent, Sirk may be defined in light of the “auteur” concept. Sirk is the perfect example of the director who is not responsible for his subject, or for his actors and the choice of his collaborators, who has (in contrast to the producer) no measure of independence, but who nevertheless succeeds, not only in leaving his stylistic mark on the film, but in transforming the separate, heterogeneous elements imposed on him into a coherent work. This does not mean that he expresses individual “fantasies” or even “themes.” Sirk is not an “auteur” continually harping on the same themes; he is an artist who knows how to become the spokesman of certain themes deriving either from the cinematographic genre, or from literature in the broadest sense, that is, including the theatre, the cinema, and so on.
In short, the importance of a director cannot be gauged by the film’s content — for the good reason that, as in this case, he may not be responsible for it, nor on aesthetic grounds, since the value of a work of art lies elsewhere. It derives from the director’s expressed outlook, from his view of the given content, a view which we are made to share. This is where the concept of “distanciation” becomes operative. Of course, this does not mean that the artist who is free to choose cannot express himself; simply that it is well to remember the historical function of the “auteur” theory, which was to bring to light those hidden authors who, in spite of difficulties, accomplished original work, and, at the same time, that numerous artists should be considered as “directors” rather than “demiurgic creators.” The inherent tendency of the original concept of the “auteur” to give way to the romantic notion of the demiurge must be avoided. Consequently, instead of the myth of an individual creator ex nihilo, we should like to put forward the idea of a “Douglas Sirk ensemble.”
The preceding remarks concern only the process of cinematographic creation. The final result is a body of work as coherent as the most intensely “personal” of visionary creators — if, indeed, the latter exist. The artist is Douglas Sirk. And as an artist, his aim is not to tell such and such a story, but to make a statement about his own art. To a large extent, the artist is a medium, not a demiurge. His relation to tradition is like that of Prometheus to the gods. The coauthors (Universal, the melodrama) are neither artists nor mediums, but the storehouses of tradition. They provide Sirk with his material — both thematic (the scripts which belong to Universal, the melodramatic narrative) and stylistic (the Universal sets and the melodramatic “cliché-images”) — which he forms into his work.
Translated by Eithne Bourget. Reprinted by permission of the author.
- “Essays in Visual Style no. 1: Dishonored by Josef von Sternberg,” in Cinema, no. 8, 1971, London. [↩]
- . Other remakes are: Lured (from Pieges by Robert Siodmak, 1939); There’s Always Tomorrow, 1956 (from the film of the same name by Edward Sloman, 1934); the legend which would have it that Written on the Wind (right) is a remake of Reckless (Victor Fleming, 1935) appears to be groundless. [↩]
- A letter from Jon Halliday to the author. [↩]
- This curious set of coincidences is quite typical of the quasi-“underground” careers of these directors: in 1948 Brahm takes over from Sirk on the set of Siren of Atlantis (Atlantis the Lost Continent, signed by Gregg G. Tallas, United Artists); in 1961, it is Ulmer’s turn to make an Atlantis. [↩]
- “Sirk doesn’t much like Imitation and, naturally, hated the story — although the race element did interest him greatly.” (letter from Jon Halliday to the author. [↩]
- “The Hollywood Screenwriter,” special issue of Film Comment, volume 6, no. 4, Winter 1970-71 (New York). [↩]
- Lewis Milestone in The Celluloid Muse, by Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, Angus and Robertson, London, 1969. [↩]
- The whole problem deserves to be discussed in detail, but it does not seem to us that Sirk’s films are “two-dimensional.” Witness several scenes which depend for effect on depth-of-field and on the very clear opposition between foreground and background (and not on their blending), particularly in All I Desire, There’s Always Tomorrow, and Imitation of Life. [↩]