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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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Pillow Talk Review


Excellent
A very funny piece of Hollywood history, as a womanizing Rock and prim Doris share a party line, only to eventually fall in love when Rock invents a Texan persona to put the moves on his lovely neighbor. A wisecracking Tony Randall just about steals the show, but latter-day revelations about Hudson make some of his lines -- like when he accuses his alter-ego of being the kind of guy interested in recipes and his mother... Classic.

If A Man Answers Review


Good
Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin were always the poor man's screwball couple -- but the acquit themselves just fine in If a Man Answers, a corny comedy about love and such. Dee nabs confirmed bachelor Darin -- then turns him into "the marrying kind" by using a handbook meant to train dogs. Eventually, his eye strays, and she concocts a faux beau (Cesar Romero) to send her flowers and "call her" every night. The subterfuge falls apart in the end, as the film turns into a complete and utter farce. Frequently funny, it's still not anywhere near a classic due to its trite plotting.

Imitation Of Life (1959) Review


OK
Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life sadly doesn't hold a candle to the 1934 original, which spoke to the difficulties of single parenting, race relations, and American entrepreneurship. By making lead Lora (Lana Turner) an actress instead of a pancake magnate, Sirk's film is robbed of much of the story's charm, turning this into some strange rendition of Mommie Dearest.

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All That Heaven Allows Review


Good
Whether we know it at the time or realize it later, life seems to provide exactly what we need. Problem is, blessings that find us unprepared can easily slip through our fingers. Sound like an old story? Well, actually, it is. Originally released by Universal in 1955, All That Heaven Allows explores one woman's struggle to accept a love that threatens to turn her life upside down.

Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is an attractive, wealthy New England widow who falls for her much younger gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Though she is sure of her love for him, Ms. Scott turns back on plans to remarry after her friends and children Kay and Ned (Gloria Talbott and William Reynolds) express reservations. Kirby may be handy with his hands, but Scott is devastated by the small town gossip and her children's bitter rebuff of her newfound love.

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Airport Review


Very Good
With one grandiose entrance, Airport ushered in a genre of moviemaking that is still going strong -- the disaster movie. Filled with high-profile stars and backed by an enormous budget, Airport takes us through one harrowing night at Chicago's "Lincoln" airport, where a stowaway granny, a pregnant stewardess, a freak blizzard, duelling pilot-administrator brothers, various annoying wives... and one distraught passenger with a homemade bomb combine to create one wild ride. Too bad the "disaster" doesn't happen until 2 hours into the 2:15 movie. No matter -- Airport's unending sequels and spoofs are a testament that this film is a true piece of Americana, for good or for bad.
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