They certainly don’t make them like Rock Hudson anymore. He was amongst the biggest heartthrobs of the Golden Age of Hollywood and became one of the most iconic stars of his generation. The man christened Roy Harold Scherer Jr. made a splash in Magnificent Obsession but it was alongside Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in Giant, which landed him an Oscar nomination, where he had his shining moment. In a career that spanned three decades, in which he had to keep his sexuality publicly hidden, he starred in a wide range of film and TV. Written on the Wind showcases his many talents.
Kyle (Robert Stack) and Mitch (Hudson) have been best friends since childhood. The former is the alcoholic playboy son of a Texan oil baron (Robert Keith). The latter was taken under the millionaire’s wing and is the stable and reliable figure neither of his children, including the impulsive and reckless daughter Marylee (Dorothy Malone), will ever be. When Lucy (Lauren Bacall) walks into their lives, money wins out, but can a leopard change his spots?
Written on the Wind is a southern technicolour melodrama which throws tragedy, addiction and power into a fraught melting pot. Hudson and Becall are the sober heads who steer Douglas Sirk’s ship through choppy waters. They ground the narrative and allow it to play out, whilst Stack and Malone cavort wantonly. It’s their dramatic heft which ensures that Written on the Wind stands out from the crowd. A slice of heady southern gothic.
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Acting for Douglas Sirk, a 2008 documentary featuring archival interviews with Sirk; actors Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and Dorothy Malone; and producer Albert Zugsmith
- New interview with film scholar Patricia White about the film and melodrama
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- PLUS: An essay by filmmaker and critic Blair McClendon
Written on the Wind is released on Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection on 21 February.