When director Douglas Sirk fled Germany in 1937 after his Jewish wife’s persecution at the hands of the Nazis, he brought with him a brand of exquisitely-crafted, expressionistic melodramas which — while not respected by critics at the time — left an indelible mark on Hollywood’s populist women’s pictures. Emotionally complex, beautifully shot, and always with a sharpened dagger to the throat of the ‘50s American values, Sirk’s films made throughout that decade are some of the most insightful depictions of the ways in which the American Dream suffocated and isolated women of all walks of life. These delicious pictures offer a subversive dive into the lives of these women, the tumultuous men they love, and society’s obsession with maintaining a mundane ordinariness in the post-war era. It’s little wonder his films have now attracted a cult following and inspired a spate of filmmakers in their wake including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John Waters, and Todd Haynes to name only a few.
Tuesday, Dec 6