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Academy Award winner Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack are the self-destructive scions of a crumbling Texan oil dynasty in Douglas Sirk's sublimely lurid widescreen melodrama.
"I have seen Written on the Wind a thousand times. And I cannot wait to see it again." — Pedro Almódovar
Not since Euripides has a family collapsed so completely and convulsively as the Hadleys, Texas billionaires with walk-in closets for their many skeletons. Snarling, high-flying playboy Kyle (Robert Stack) drowns out his sense of failure (his impotence is both physical and metaphorical) in floods of booze and bouts of fisticuffs; his nostalgic nympho sister Marylee (Dorothy Malone) vamps around town in a red sports car, yearning for her pastoral childhood when she isn't blowing some guy's gasket as a Texas tea Salome. While Marylee pines for the stability (and body) of family friend Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson), Kyle marries chic New Yorker Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall), dragging the two "normal" outsiders into their den of dynastic dysfunction, a palatial mansion set-decorated for high tragedy. The colours and camera angles are crazy in Sirk's dire vision of the moral wreckage of American materialism, the symbolism as ripe as it is rife: Malone commits an orgasmic, death-dealing dance of the veils, a scarlet chiffon dervish to a bongo beat, and what she does to a desktop oil derrick is full-on fifties Freudianism. A desperate film, intense and beautiful and moving, Written is precursor to both Visconti's The Damned and Fassbinder's many studies of misery and decline in the petit bourgeois family.