Magnificent Obsession

Magnificent Obsession

3.6 13
Director: Douglas Sirk

Cast: Douglas Sirk, Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush

     
 

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This second film version of Lloyd C. Douglas' spiritual novel Magnificent Obsession is in its own way as successful as the first (filmed in 1935) in glossing over the plot holes and logic gaps in the original novel. Rock Hudson plays Bob Merrick, a reckless playboy who is indirectly responsible for the death of a kindly and much-beloved doctor. The dead man's

Overview

This second film version of Lloyd C. Douglas' spiritual novel Magnificent Obsession is in its own way as successful as the first (filmed in 1935) in glossing over the plot holes and logic gaps in the original novel. Rock Hudson plays Bob Merrick, a reckless playboy who is indirectly responsible for the death of a kindly and much-beloved doctor. The dead man's wife, Helen Phillips (Jane Wyman), refuses to accept Bob's apologies. When Helen is accidentally blinded, Bob decides to "do right" by her anonymously, illustrating author Douglas's curious edict that the best sort of good deed is the one for which you're not rewarded. In record time, Bob becomes a brilliant physician, and it is he who performs the sight-restoring surgery on Helen. Rather than fade into the woodwork unheralded, Bob is at last forgiven by Helen, who has fallen in love with him during her sightless months without even knowing it. Luxuriously produced by Ross Hunter and directed con brio by Douglas Sirk, Magnificent Obsession was one of the most successful of Universal's big-budget "weepers" of the 1950s.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Magnificent Obsession is arguably director Douglas Sirk's masterpiece, even though there are many who find it campy or ridiculous. Indeed, the plot of Obsession is ridiculous (just as it was in its original version), something of which Sirk himself was aware. But the screenplay and direction make an asset of this fact, accepting it at face value and saying, "So it's ridiculous? It's unreal and artificial? So what? Why does a film have to be realistic rather than fantastic?" Sirk and his screenwriters create their own cinematic reality, and it at times is in stark contrast to our own, so much so that it inspires laughter. But it also inspires devotion; Sirk's dedication and commitment to creating this world are so total that one can't help but be drawn in. Even those who do manage to resist Obsession's pull are likely to be impressed by Sirk's visual skill. The film drips with rich Technicolor hues and revels in glorious straight-lined architecture broken up with surprising skewed interruptions. Russell Metty's camerawork is evocative, often amazing, utilizing Sirk's obsession with mirrors like never before. The cast is also a big plus, with Rock Hudson turning in a more than respectable performance, Jane Wyman turning in an exceptional one, and fine support from Agnes Moorehead, Barbara Rush, and in a role that is something of a Sirk stand-in, Otto Kruger. Taken on its own terms, the philosophy espoused in the screenplay is a bit over the top; however, read as a creed about the obsession that drives the artistic creative force (and has artists such as film directors playing a kind of god themselves), it becomes rather fascinating. Magnificent Obsession is that rare film that inspires a kind of obsession in many viewers itself.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/20/2009
UPC:
0715515034821
Original Release:
1954
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:48:00
Sales rank:
1,106

Special Features

Disc 1:; Restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary featuring film scholar Thomas Doherty; Video interviews with filmmakers Allison Anders and kathryn Bigelow, in which they pay a tribute to Douglas Sirk; Theatrical trailer; ; Disc 2:; Magnificent Obsession (1935, 102 minutes), a new digital transfer of John M. Stahl's earlier version of the film; From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991, 82 minutes), a rare documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects on his career; Plus a booklet featuring a new essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jane Wyman Helen Phillips
Rock Hudson Bob Merrick
Barbara Rush Joyce Phillips
Agnes Moorehead Nancy Ashford
Otto Kruger Randolph
Gregg Palmer Tom Masterson
Sara Shane Valerie
Paul Cavanagh Dr. Giraud
Judy Nugent Judy
George Lynn Williams
Richard H. Cutting Dr. Dodge
Robert B. Williams Sgt. Burnham
Will J. White Sgt. Ames
Helen Kleeb Mrs. Eden
Lance Fuller Actor
Myrna Hansen Customer
Brad Johnson Actor
Kathleen O'Malley Switchboard Girl
Lee Roberts 2nd Mechanic
Norbert Schiller Mr. Long
Joy Hallward Maid
Rudolph Anders Dr. Fuss
Fred Nurney Dr. Laradetti
John Mylong Dr. Hofer
Alexander Campbell Dr. Allan
Mae Clarke Mrs. Miller
Harvey Grant Chris
Joseph Mell Dan
Gail Bonney Phyllis
Harold Dyrenforth Mr. Jouvet
Lisa Gaye Switchboard Girl
Jack Kelly 1st Mechanic
Lucille Lamarr Nurse
William Leslie Customer

Technical Credits
Douglas Sirk Director
Robert Blees Screenwriter
Leslie I. Carey Sound/Sound Designer
Miton Carruth Editor
Russell A. Gausman Set Decoration/Design
Joseph E. Gershenson Musical Direction/Supervision
Bernard Herzbrun Art Director
William Holland Asst. Director
David S. Horsley Special Effects
Ross Hunter Producer
Corson Jowett Sound/Sound Designer
Ruby Levitt Set Decoration/Design
Russell Metty Cinematographer
Emrich H. Nicholson Art Director
Wells Root Screenwriter
Frank Skinner Score Composer
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
Bud Westmore Makeup

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Magnificent Obsession - 1954
1. A Reckless Moment [4:47]
2. The Resuscitator [4:55]
3. "A Complete Waste" [3:43]
4. Secrets and Debts [5:48]
5. Revelations [4:02]
6. "Using It All Up" [2:43]
7. Haunted [5:50]
8. "The Source of Infinite Power" [5:27]
9. A Good Deed Not Repaid [3:19]
10. Tragic News [1:54]
11. Making Strides [3:42]
12. Stranger at the Cove [5:17]
13. Merrick Schemes [4:45]
14. Helen's News [3:54]
15. Doubt Sets In [5:39]
16. Disappointment in Switzerland [3:08]
17. Reunion [7:42]
18. A Night to Remember [5:22]
19. Uncertainty and a Departure [6:41]
20. A Magnificent Obsession [3:19]
21. A New Addition and an Old Friend [3:04]
22. "Chance in a Million" [4:15]
23. Repaying Old Debts [3:30]
24. Tomorrow [4:55]
25. Color Bars
1. The Dread Enemy [4:47]
2. Douglas Sirk [4:55]
3. Credibilty and John Stahl [3:43]
4. Gender Contract [5:48]
5. Helen's Resistance [4:02]
6. Rooted in Time [2:43]
7. Hollywood in the '50s/Art [5:50]
8. Hudson's Persona/"Phillipsism [5:27]
9. Sonic Communication [3:19]
10. Melodrama [1:54]
11. Playing Blind [3:42]
12. Subversiveness [5:17]
13. Marketing [4:45]
14. Hudson and Wyman [3:54]
15. Uncomplicated Masculinity/Universal [5:39]
16. Craziness, Trash, and Art [3:08]
17. Feminism/Catharsis [7:42]
18. Fassbinder [5:22]
19. Articulations/Todd Haynes [6:41]
20. Double Entendres [3:19]
21. Divine Doctors [3:04]
22. Below the Surface [4:15]
23. Over-the-Top [3:30]
24. A Bastard Offspring [4:55]
25. Color Bars
Disc #2 -- Magnificent Obsession - 1935
1. Happy Family [3:43]
2. Tragic Timing [3:00]
3. "Used It All Up" [4:59]
4. Bob Merrick [6:37]
5. Breakdown [4:47]
6. The Escapee Returns [2:20]
7. Boys' Night Out [5:02]
8. Haunted [3:52]
9. "The Source of Infinite Power" [7:24]
10. Doing Good [4:26]
11. Accident [4:10]
12. Stranger in the Park [7:36]
13. Good News for Mrs. Hudson [6:17]
14. Disappointment in Paris [2:27]
15. Reunion [7:13]
16. A Night to Remember [6:12]
17. Unexpected Departure [3:37]
18. Triumphant Return [3:00]
19. A Magnificent Obsession [5:04]
20. The Operation [4:45]
21. Tomorrow [5:24]
1. Discovery in Vienna [16:32]
2. A Skeptical Person [5:10]
3. Film Culture USA [5:22]
4. The Star System [7:45]
5. Theater/Film [6:19]
6. Written on the Wind [15:59]
7. The Tarnished Angels [11:38]
8. The Craftsman [4:16]
9. The Sirk Style [9:29]

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Magnificent Obsession 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this 'castaways pictures' version of the movie and yes, it is the movie.... in bad visual quality. If you are easily annoyed with this, use the money toward the purchase of a better quality copy, I wish I did.
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
There have been many great actor-director collobrations through the years. John Wayne and John Ford. Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock. Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone. Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Yet, hardly anyone ever mentions the teaming of actor Rock Hudson with director Douglas Sirk and their films together are among the finest motion pictures of the 1950's. Hudson was a handsome and charismatic actor who also happened to be a closetted gay man. Sirk was a German filmmaker who fled to the United States when the Nazis took over his homeland. Together, they created films that, on the surface, were classic, weepy melodramas. Underneath, though, they were sideswipes of the straight-arrow, ultra-conservative times that America underwent in the Eisenhower Era. The first film they did together was "The Magnificent Obsession" in 1954, which was actually a remake of the 1935 original featuring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. It tells the story of Bob Merrick (Hudson) who carelessly gets in a boating accident. As the doctor waits for a life-saving device for Merrick, the beloved doctor dies. Merrick starts getting pangs of conscience and through a series of complications, he begins to give more of himself to the doctor's widow, Helen (Jane Wyman). To tell more, of course, would be telling. What we can tell you is that the movie is told in a lush, colorful manner, which would be one of Sirk's trademarks. The film cemented Hudson's reputation as a fine, serious actor. It also has an undercurrent of guilt and classicism which would be a reoccuring theme in Sirk's films. And it should be mentioned that The Criterion Collection version also contains the 1935 version of this film. Hudson is known primarily for the comedies he did in the 1960's with Doris Day and, of course, for his high-profile death from AIDS in 1985. Just watching him in Sirk's movies---not just this one but also "Written On The Wind", "All That Heaven Allows" and "Battle Hymn"---seems a more appropriate epitaph.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you care about a Quality picture don't buy the Magnificent Obsession with the UPC # 4897007032167. I know the other DVD is around $35, but the cheaper cost DVD is not worth it. I bought the least expensive one and it had a poor quality transfer. I think it was made and reproduced in China.
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