For Reel


Lured (1947)
March 28, 2015, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Douglas Sirk
3.5 Stars
LuredBefore moving on to directing some of the most prestigious melodramas of the 1950s, director Douglas Sirk took on this unusual film noir starring a rather unlikely cast. Lucille Ball plays an American transplant in London who scrapes by as a dance hall girl. When a coworker goes missing, she is recruited by Scotland Yard to serve as the bait to catch a suspected serial killer. Ball brings the expected snark and pluckiness to the role. She is giving the kind of performance that Ginger Rogers might have, which is slightly problematic due to a lack of vulnerability that seems essential to the part. George Sanders, on the other hand, is an inspired choice as her love-interest and potential suspect. He has the rare opportunity to personify a genuinely well-intentioned, romantic hero, all the while utilizing his ambiguous persona to suggest a potential for menace around the midpoint of the picture. The most memorable sequence involves a bizarre performance by Boris Karloff as a maniacal fashion designer. Sirk is interested in the utter perversity of Karloff’s objectification of Ball, which is a running theme throughout the picture–she is first introduced as a taxi dancer, then used as bait to catch a murderer, and finally obsessed over by both a man who loves her and a man who loves the thought of her dead.



All That Heaven Allows (1955)
May 27, 2011, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Douglas Sirk

In All That Heaven Allows, Douglas Sirk consciously subverts the gender expectations dictated by the medium by characterizing the male of the relationship, Rock Hudson, as a sexualized feminine presence. The film also comments on the societal expectations placed on women through Jane Wyman’s character, who finds herself liberated following the death of her husband. One interpretation of the film might suggest that Hudson’s character is a homosexual – not merely with the knowledge of the actor’s own personal life, but in the sense that he is an aged bachelor who enjoys garden work and fixing up the home (characteristics which, in the language of classical Hollywood, are decidedly feminine). The position that Wyman takes in the relationship at the end of the film, on the other hand, is not sexual, but one signified as being motherly and caregiving, whereas Hudson’s relationship with a male friend earlier in the film is one of more customarily romantic mutual idolatry.