Written In The Wind (1956)

This is a melodrama...music plus drama. Douglas Sirk, creator of Imitation of Life, was known for melodrama. He says "You can't make films about things. You can only make films with things, with people, with light, with flowers, with mirrors, with blood. In fact, with all the fantastic things that make life worth living."

I watched this only because Kathryn Bigelow mentioned it as an inspiration. Melodrama is fairly foreign in our age of self-deprecating sarcasm, violence, outrageousness.

This movie is enjoyable to watch. It opens with a yellow sportscar speeding down the highway. The driver bites off the bottlecap of a beer and abruptly pulls up to some grand mansion in the small town of Hadley...all to the sound of a very cheesey song with the lyric "What's written in the wind is written on my heart." Lauren Bacall's face is all worry as she watches the page-a-day calendar fly backwards in time to Ocotober 24, 1955.

The story unfolds...

Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) is an wealthy alcoholic playboy who falls for Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall). Best friend, Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson) is a geologist for his rich friend's dad's company, Hadley Oil. Old Man Hadley speaks highly of Mitch..."He has the kind of assets you can't buy with money." Handsome and sensible. Mitch falls for advertising executive assistant, Lucy. So does his buddy, Kyle. Kyle's sister, Marylee (Dorothy Malone) is a nymphomaniac in love with Mitch, but he regards her like a sister since they grew up together...plus, she is the town slut.

This is classic 1950s glamour all the way. Lauren Bacall leans out the window wearing and apple green sweater and skirt. Her blond hair is tinged with a touch of red. Pale pink chiffon curtains blow in the breeze. Dorothy Malone wears a wide brimmed black straw hat that casts an amazing shadow...when tilted down it sparkles in a perfect black circle.

There is punching. There is a gun. People die. People live happily ever after.

It has been said before, but...they really do not make movies like this anymore.


The Loveless (1982)

After she was the first woman to win the academy award this year for best director, I became curious about Kathryn Bigelow. She started out as a painter studying at The San Francisco Institute of Art and went to New York for the Whitney Musuem Independent Study Program before studying film at Columbia. Influenced by existentialism, Jacques Lacan and Derrida, she also worked on contruction jobs with Phillip Glass.

The Loveless is her first feature film. Curious that her source of inspiration in the early 1980s was classic biker films, such as The Wild One (1953) and Scorpio Rising (1964). She also mentions another inspiration as Written in the Wind (1956) starring Rock Hudson. I plan to watch that one soon. Originally titled US 17, the distributors made her change it.

Starring a very young Willem Defoe as Vance, part of a biker gang on route to Datona Beach, Florida. They stop in small southern towns along the way finding all kinds of trouble. The film tagline is "Sworn to fun loyal to none." Vance says things like "Go bark at the moon" and "We're going nowhere fast." There is blinking neon and Coca Cola machines. The aesthetic and look of the film is late 1950s America, around the time of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. ten years before Easy Rider.

I know she has been known for her action films, a genre that is not usually what I like to watch so I will not be checking out the others. I can't say I liked this film. I was examining it more than enjoying it. Although, having just seen Willem Defoe in an intense role with Charlotte Gainsbourg in the 2009 film Antichrist, it was interesting to watch him nearly thirty years ago, as his style has been consistant.