Written on the Wind (1956)

"Written on the Wind" is perhaps the most hyperbolic of all movies, and yes, I do see the irony saying that. It elicits powerful performances from all of its actors, even if at sometimes it can seem a bit screamy. However, "Written on the Wind" is an anomaly in the film world for the time period it was made in. The 50s is where we see the shift from the typical family film to more edgy works, but still...this is pretty early. "Written on the Wind" gives us scenes in which couples share a bed (gasp), make references to only wanting sex out of relationship (gasp), and have longings towards married people (gasp). Though the casual view of sex is paired with brutal inter human relationship commentary...blah blah blah. "Written on the Wind" ranges from high to low to high and back again so quickly and with so much veracity that it can leave the audience breathless, and it tends to.
"Written on the Wind" starts on a dark, windy (hence the name) night as a mysterious man drunkenly speeds his car towards a mansion. The man stumbles out of his car and into the house as the inhabitants look outside their windows. A shot rings out, reminding us of "Mildred Pierce", and a figure stumbles back out, clutching a wound and falling to the ground.
Cut to a cheesy wind blowing a calendar backwards and we got back in time over a year. Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall, perfect as always) is the new executive secretary for the Hadley Oil Company. She is surprised in the office by Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson) who essentially asks her on a date...but not really...oh well. He takes her to a nice club where she meets the progeny of the patriarch of the Hadley company, Kyle Hadley (Robert Stark). Kyle is a little fond of the drink, well, he's a lot fond of the drink. As he slurs his way through every conversation and makes rather inappropriate advances towards Lucy Moore, we get the distinctive idea that children of the rich are bred incompetently. Money corrupts, or so says the movie. Kyle's drunkenness is paired with his sister Marylee's obsessive desire to meddle in other people's lives. Marylee (Dorothy Malone) is still smitten with her childhood friend Wayne...oh, the webs we weave.
As Kyle makes more moves, he kidnaps Lucy and takes her on a magical airplane ride. On this ride, he becomes very candid with her and she decides that she is in love with him. Why? He's a complete loser, oh well, there's no accounting for taste. Bacall is convincing enough that we believe Lucy can, for all her pragmatism, fall for someone as low as Kyle. But Kyle isn't all bad and as he almost loses Lucy, he realizes that he needs to turn his life around. A whirlwind romance later and the two are married and Kyle is sober.
There is one problem: Wayne is in love with Lucy.
It is so so so so so melodramatic and it works so so so so well. I can't emphasize how much I should hate this movie and how much I actually love it. There are some huge flaws in "Written on the Wind"; but it is so fast and furious that it is above all else, damn entertaining.
The lives intersect, the drama seeps in, money is terrible...we get it.
"Written on the Wind" may be really adult for its time and very cheesy, but its power is unquestionable.

Score: ★★★½

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