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Magnificent Obsession Review


Good
Restrained passion, brooding desire, and undying love are painted on the screen in glorious Technicolor. Obsessed with the suffering of the American over-privileged upper class of the 1950s, director Douglas Sirk created several Hollywood blockbusters that subversively tackled topics ranging from race to age in relationships. And while All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Imitation of Life (1959) are beloved by cinephilies as "masterpieces," Magnificent Obsession is not among that canon.

That's not to say that Sirk's 1954 remake of a 1935 film, and adaptation of the 1929 novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, is not a melodramatic gem. The story focuses on reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his first leading role), whose boat-crashing antics inadvertently kill Helen Phillips' (Jane Wyman) husband. When Merrick falls for the widow, he learns a lesson in selflessness and giving to others -- but not before Helen is blinded in an accident that was once again a result of Merrick's actions. Whereas the melodrama in Sirk's major works are supported by substantive themes that still resonate today -- the racism that forces Sarah Jane to abandon her mother in Imitation of Life, for example -- Magnificent Obsession drowns in its sentimentality.

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High Noon (1952) Review


Good
Sure, it's a classic, but High Noon has never been a favorite Western of mine. Its pace is too slow -- though some scenes of Gary Cooper's marshal in desperate search of a posse before the black hats arrive in town can be tense. The scene where Cooper waits for the conveniently-timed train to arrive at the station is also quite stylish. Alas, Grace Kelly or no, High Noon just doesn't have the depth of character for my tastes. No flawed hero, no injustice to be avenged. Just a good guy, a bad guy, and a clean-cut ending that leaves you shrugging the whole thing off.

Another Thin Man Review


Good
The third Thin Man movie finds the series struggling a bit as it searches for new ideas, while also taking a rather mean turn of events. For starters, Asta now has a sibling -- a (human) baby -- to distract the Charleses. But never mind the kid, the couple (trio) has a new mystery to deal with: A military colonel who's being threatened by a just-outta-prison man from his past is sure he's going to be killed. 20 minutes later, he is killed. Whodunnit? Well, our obvious suspect may just be a bit too obvious, if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, the mystery here is random and a bit obtuse, and the jokes just aren't as funny with all the ultra-dark goings on.

Continue reading: Another Thin Man Review

Murder, My Sweet Review


Good
Dick Powell stars as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in this oft-considered-classic film noir, based on Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely. Unfortunately, too many arbitrary plot twists and turns serve merely to complicate matters without much reason. Ultimately the movie doesn't make a lot of sense, nor does it build up much suspense along the way.
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