Respectful Sirk Takedown

Consider the almost comical phoniness of the dialogue and particularly the awful acting in this scene from Douglas Sirk‘s Imitation of Life. I happened to watch this earlier today and felt genuinely stunned. I mean, it’s just about unwatchable. Even more startling is the fact that the German-born Sirk is considered a legendary world-class filmmaker. Well, there’s a reason for that.

Sirk is generally regarded as a pantheon-level guy because the film dweebs have been telling us for years that the dreadfully banal soap-opera acting, grandiose emotionalism and conservative suburban milieus in his films are all of an operatic pitch-perfect piece and are meant as ironic social criticism. (Or something like that.)

The dweebs are playing an old snob game. They’re basically saying that you have to be a serious cineaste to recognize Sirk’s genius, and that if you don’t recognize it then you need to think things through because you’re just not as perceptive as you need to be.

There’s no winning against this mindset, which is somewhere between a schoolyard bully move and an intellectual con. The dweebs (and I’m talking about a very small and cloistered group of big-city critics) have put one over on us. And I’m suggesting, due respect, that the time has come to push back on Sirk and to consider him once again as the Guiding Light-level director that some (myself included) believe that he always was.

Sirk was mostly dismissed by critics of the ’50s and early ’60s for making films that were no more and no less than what they seemed to be — i.e., emotionally dreary, visually lush melodramas about repressed women suffering greatly through crises of the heart as they struggled to maintain tidy, ultra-proper appearances.

In his praise of Written on the Wind, Roger Ebert wrote that “to appreciate [this film] probably takes more sophistication than to understand one of Ingmar Bergman‘s masterpieces, because Bergman’s themes are visible and underlined, while with Sirk the style conceals the message.”

Aaaah, the old concealment game! John Ford used to do this also, but you can watch Ford’s films, or at least savor what’s good about them (despite the Irish sentimentality). If Ebert’s comment isn’t Orwellian film-dweeb speak, I don’t know what would be.

  • kantcdick

    Sir, I am confused. Not an unusual state for me, but, are we supposed to like this video or despise it? I await further enlightenment. Respectfully, etc.

  • kantcdick

    Sir, I am confused. Not an unusual state for me, but, are we supposed to like this video or despise it? I await further enlightenment. Respectfully, etc.

  • Travis Crabtree

    BINGO!!!!

    You knocked that one out of the park, Wells. (sports reference)

    Thank you for your voice of sanity on the inexplicable deification of Sirk. Yes, nobody did weepies like Douglas Sirk, but that’s like saying nobody writes romance novels like Danielle Steele.

    The first time I saw a Sirk movie was when I caught my mom watching “Written on the Wind”. Even she chuckled at the guilty pleasure of it, telling me how she and her girlfriends would go to his movies back in the day and cry.

  • Travis Crabtree

    BINGO!!!!

    You knocked that one out of the park, Wells. (sports reference)

    Thank you for your voice of sanity on the inexplicable deification of Sirk. Yes, nobody did weepies like Douglas Sirk, but that’s like saying nobody writes romance novels like Danielle Steele.

    The first time I saw a Sirk movie was when I caught my mom watching “Written on the Wind”. Even she chuckled at the guilty pleasure of it, telling me how she and her girlfriends would go to his movies back in the day and cry.

  • Snoop Marlo

    Forget Sirk for a sec …. The Brunette is Hot!

  • Snoop Marlo

    Forget Sirk for a sec …. The Brunette is Hot!

  • Eloi Manning

    Yeah, Sirk sucks. I was force-fed this melodrama dogshit in film studies at college and was never impressed. Some of the films look pretty and colorful, but the content is tedious. I am always suspicious of anyone who earnestly claims they watch this stuff for fun, unless they’re a 90-year old woman or a camp old queen.

  • Eloi Manning

    Yeah, Sirk sucks. I was force-fed this melodrama dogshit in film studies at college and was never impressed. Some of the films look pretty and colorful, but the content is tedious. I am always suspicious of anyone who earnestly claims they watch this stuff for fun, unless they’re a 90-year old woman or a camp old queen.

  • btwnproductions

    This is respectful? You kiss your mother with that mouth? I’m something of a a Sirkian, not out to bully or con anybody about his style, which continues to have an impact. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW, THE TARNISHED ANGELS–a wellspring for me and my cloistered few.

  • btwnproductions

    This is respectful? You kiss your mother with that mouth? I’m something of a a Sirkian, not out to bully or con anybody about his style, which continues to have an impact. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW, THE TARNISHED ANGELS–a wellspring for me and my cloistered few.

  • Petrucious

    No comment on the acting, but I think the composition of the frame is first rate. Especially after the 2:13 mark when the extent of Sarah Jane’s delusions become apparent.

  • Petrucious

    No comment on the acting, but I think the composition of the frame is first rate. Especially after the 2:13 mark when the extent of Sarah Jane’s delusions become apparent.

  • bobbyperu

    Jeff, can we also assume then that you hated Todd Haynes’ sublime Far from Heaven, which was much in the same mold and even intentionally harkened back to Sirk? Or what about Almodovar? Are you throwing out all melodrama then????

  • bobbyperu

    Jeff, can we also assume then that you hated Todd Haynes’ sublime Far from Heaven, which was much in the same mold and even intentionally harkened back to Sirk? Or what about Almodovar? Are you throwing out all melodrama then????

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I actually got what Haynes was up to — that wasn’t a con job — he was quite obviously recalling Sirkian melodrama in a quote-unquote ironic way. That was fine.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I actually got what Haynes was up to — that wasn’t a con job — he was quite obviously recalling Sirkian melodrama in a quote-unquote ironic way. That was fine.

  • mitchtaylor

    If nothing else, Sirk appreciation got us Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. I think the case is sometimes overstated, but there is something going on in those frames that deserves a well-intentioned look.

  • mitchtaylor

    If nothing else, Sirk appreciation got us Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. I think the case is sometimes overstated, but there is something going on in those frames that deserves a well-intentioned look.

  • Carl LaFong

    Thanks, Jeff, for saying what needed to be said: the Emperor has no clothes. And, yes, melodrama falls frequently into the same pitfalls of banality as science fiction, westerns, mysteries, and other pop genres – this does not mean that the occasional title can not rise above wallowing masses and approach art. As bobbyperu notes, Haynes and Almodovar are far more ambitious than a studio journeyman, like Sirk. They may have an eye for his aesthetic, but their content is far more rich and well thought out…

  • Carl LaFong

    Thanks, Jeff, for saying what needed to be said: the Emperor has no clothes. And, yes, melodrama falls frequently into the same pitfalls of banality as science fiction, westerns, mysteries, and other pop genres – this does not mean that the occasional title can not rise above wallowing masses and approach art. As bobbyperu notes, Haynes and Almodovar are far more ambitious than a studio journeyman, like Sirk. They may have an eye for his aesthetic, but their content is far more rich and well thought out…

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    The case for Sirk may definitely be a little overstated, but I think Jeff’s takedown is way overstated. First off, “comical phoniness of dialogue” is pretty much a feature of a hell of lot of Hollywood cinema of that period – you’ll find it in Hitchcock, Nicolas Ray, pretty much everywhere. Sirk may a little overrated by a certain film-school mentality, but he was a master of colour composition and framing. Written on the Wind is great movie – Robert Stack’s performance is a joy to watch.

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    The case for Sirk may definitely be a little overstated, but I think Jeff’s takedown is way overstated. First off, “comical phoniness of dialogue” is pretty much a feature of a hell of lot of Hollywood cinema of that period – you’ll find it in Hitchcock, Nicolas Ray, pretty much everywhere. Sirk may a little overrated by a certain film-school mentality, but he was a master of colour composition and framing. Written on the Wind is great movie – Robert Stack’s performance is a joy to watch.

  • dangovich

    I always had trouble with the Czech/Mexican actress Susan Kohner as the daughter of a black woman.

  • dangovich

    I always had trouble with the Czech/Mexican actress Susan Kohner as the daughter of a black woman.

  • elzilcho

    This along with Jeff’s “High Noon is better than Rio Bravo” argument should make it clear that he should stick to writing about the Oscar race and not real cinema. Leave that to those who know what they are talking about.

  • elzilcho

    This along with Jeff’s “High Noon is better than Rio Bravo” argument should make it clear that he should stick to writing about the Oscar race and not real cinema. Leave that to those who know what they are talking about.

  • bmcintire

    I’m not quite getting the unwatchability of this. The acting seems pretty standard for this time period (and at least the approach is a little more direct than one would expect from this sort of thing).

    You want to have a crack at some pantheon-level bullshit classics, take another look at MILDRED PIERCE or STALAG 17. I’m not about to paint Michael Curtiz or Billy Wilder with Jeff’s brush-stroke dismissal, but those two films are startlingly bad.

  • bmcintire

    I’m not quite getting the unwatchability of this. The acting seems pretty standard for this time period (and at least the approach is a little more direct than one would expect from this sort of thing).

    You want to have a crack at some pantheon-level bullshit classics, take another look at MILDRED PIERCE or STALAG 17. I’m not about to paint Michael Curtiz or Billy Wilder with Jeff’s brush-stroke dismissal, but those two films are startlingly bad.

  • Eloi Manning

    elzilcho: You appear to be precisely the kind of film snob that Jeff is describing in his initial post.

    The thing that I never understood about film scholars championing Sirk is that you just know they’d have no interest in seeing the modern-day equivalent of these films, and indeed would probably pan it as trashy nonsense. They’ll watch some Sirk weepy, but sneer at The Holiday or something. They’re basically the same, but from different eras. Over-the-top, melodramatic fodder for housewives.

    It’s the same as the snobs that gush over some 1930s swashbuckler but can’t stand the sight of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They’ll completely ignore any and all merits of what is a high-grade studio blockbuster with wit, excitement and spectacle, but will continue to praise THE EXACT SAME THING as long as it was made before 1970.

    I’m not saying that all modern movies are inherently superior to old movies, but there is a definite school of thought that the reverse is true, and it’s absurd. People so stuck in the past that they’d rather watch old re-runs of Dragnet than some bad-ass Michael Mann crime thriller.

  • Eloi Manning

    elzilcho: You appear to be precisely the kind of film snob that Jeff is describing in his initial post.

    The thing that I never understood about film scholars championing Sirk is that you just know they’d have no interest in seeing the modern-day equivalent of these films, and indeed would probably pan it as trashy nonsense. They’ll watch some Sirk weepy, but sneer at The Holiday or something. They’re basically the same, but from different eras. Over-the-top, melodramatic fodder for housewives.

    It’s the same as the snobs that gush over some 1930s swashbuckler but can’t stand the sight of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They’ll completely ignore any and all merits of what is a high-grade studio blockbuster with wit, excitement and spectacle, but will continue to praise THE EXACT SAME THING as long as it was made before 1970.

    I’m not saying that all modern movies are inherently superior to old movies, but there is a definite school of thought that the reverse is true, and it’s absurd. People so stuck in the past that they’d rather watch old re-runs of Dragnet than some bad-ass Michael Mann crime thriller.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to elzilcho: Exactly what I’m talking about…thank you! Elitist dweeb-speak — is it live or is it Memorex? We know, we have the cultured understanding, you don’t, you don’t get it, shut up, etc.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to elzilcho: Exactly what I’m talking about…thank you! Elitist dweeb-speak — is it live or is it Memorex? We know, we have the cultured understanding, you don’t, you don’t get it, shut up, etc.

  • Pjm

    No, no, Mr. Wells. You’re just plain wrong on this one. Sirk is a genius, and not because only snobs can appreciate him – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! His films were “Women’s Films” – made for a sold middle-class audience that had no interest in high art. But the films become high art in the same way Verdi’s operas have. In fact, the most apt comparison is to opera. Opera these days is unfortunately considered a snooty, pompous, high-class art form, when, in fact, it was the art form of the people when most of them were composed. Sirk’s films are the cinematic equivalent of Verdi or Mascagni or Puccini – highly stylized, melodramas that were never meant to be “realistic,” but that explore very realistic and powerful ideas in a very accessible way. No one watches a Sirk film and says “Gee – that’s just how I talk to my husband! – and that looks just like our house!” No. You watch a Sirk film to see a beautifully choreographed and staged visual opera that turns middle-class American life into something important. Sirk’s films are not any more stylized or “fake” or inept than any action film made for the “guy” audience, but for some reason, we watch “Die Hard” or “Avatar” and say “cool!” and then watch Sirk and say “Fake!” What’s the difference? Sirk had a far deeper grasp of story and image than Cameron!

  • Pjm

    No, no, Mr. Wells. You’re just plain wrong on this one. Sirk is a genius, and not because only snobs can appreciate him – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! His films were “Women’s Films” – made for a sold middle-class audience that had no interest in high art. But the films become high art in the same way Verdi’s operas have. In fact, the most apt comparison is to opera. Opera these days is unfortunately considered a snooty, pompous, high-class art form, when, in fact, it was the art form of the people when most of them were composed. Sirk’s films are the cinematic equivalent of Verdi or Mascagni or Puccini – highly stylized, melodramas that were never meant to be “realistic,” but that explore very realistic and powerful ideas in a very accessible way. No one watches a Sirk film and says “Gee – that’s just how I talk to my husband! – and that looks just like our house!” No. You watch a Sirk film to see a beautifully choreographed and staged visual opera that turns middle-class American life into something important. Sirk’s films are not any more stylized or “fake” or inept than any action film made for the “guy” audience, but for some reason, we watch “Die Hard” or “Avatar” and say “cool!” and then watch Sirk and say “Fake!” What’s the difference? Sirk had a far deeper grasp of story and image than Cameron!

  • btwnproductions

    STALAG i17 isn’t Wilder’s best. The shrillness of much of his 60s work is front and center there…and I may as well say i don’t think SOME LIKE IT HOT is all that hot, either, outside of Monroe’s delicious performance.

    But MILDRED PIERCE is quintessential Warners noir and a real grabber from start to finish; excellent cast and palpably tense about class and family struggles. One of those “old movies” that never fails to delight people who claim not to like “old movies.”

    Oh, and I’d watch IMITATION OF LIFE any day over the mostly dulll, have the fast-forward button-ready BEN-HUR. Rome sagas that aren’t “tales of the Christ” are infinitely more watchable and enjoyable (SPARTACUS, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE).

  • btwnproductions

    STALAG i17 isn’t Wilder’s best. The shrillness of much of his 60s work is front and center there…and I may as well say i don’t think SOME LIKE IT HOT is all that hot, either, outside of Monroe’s delicious performance.

    But MILDRED PIERCE is quintessential Warners noir and a real grabber from start to finish; excellent cast and palpably tense about class and family struggles. One of those “old movies” that never fails to delight people who claim not to like “old movies.”

    Oh, and I’d watch IMITATION OF LIFE any day over the mostly dulll, have the fast-forward button-ready BEN-HUR. Rome sagas that aren’t “tales of the Christ” are infinitely more watchable and enjoyable (SPARTACUS, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE).

  • btwnproductions

    …except that the POTC films are completely devoid of the wit, excitement, and spectacle of CAPTAIN BLOOD or THE SEA HAWK (and I say this as someone who does like AVATAR and the RINGS pictures).

  • btwnproductions

    …except that the POTC films are completely devoid of the wit, excitement, and spectacle of CAPTAIN BLOOD or THE SEA HAWK (and I say this as someone who does like AVATAR and the RINGS pictures).

  • sumo-pop

    I’m with wells, and I loved Far From Heaven. It transcended it’s own inspiration. Either that, or I’m a walking contradiction. 50/50.

  • sumo-pop

    I’m with wells, and I loved Far From Heaven. It transcended it’s own inspiration. Either that, or I’m a walking contradiction. 50/50.

  • joncro

    But look at the content of that scene…….!

    Any movies made today discussing race in America like that? The minorities have to be blue and 8 feet tall these days.

  • joncro

    But look at the content of that scene…….!

    Any movies made today discussing race in America like that? The minorities have to be blue and 8 feet tall these days.

  • aufche

    cool video…

    hollywood gossips news

  • aufche

    cool video…

    hollywood gossips news

  • LexG

    Which is the one where Rock Hudson’s out in the snow wearing some RIDICULOUS ear-flapped bright red hat and falls off a roof like a total douche and dies?

    Because God that’s a terrible movie.

  • LexG

    Which is the one where Rock Hudson’s out in the snow wearing some RIDICULOUS ear-flapped bright red hat and falls off a roof like a total douche and dies?

    Because God that’s a terrible movie.

  • The Filmatelist

    Pjm nailed it on the head. It’s impossible to downgrade Ray and not do the same thing to Nick Ray or Minnelli. They’re all great visual stylists who understood that epic sweep can be an emotional plane, not merely a geographic one, so their frames are as densely and brilliantly composed as a Lean or a Stevens from the same period. They also trade in emotional authenticity–not “realism” as we understand it in everyday-talk, but a deep-rooted sensitivity to emotional connection, with its urges and frailties writ large. The obvious contemporary analogue is Almodovar (and Fassbinder before him), though he can afford to be more sexually graphic and overtly playful when the mood suits him. Sirk is unquestionably an acquired taste, but for Wells to blithely assert that because he doesn’t personally connect, that there’s no there-there is to be as reductive and insular as the Eloi he’s always railing against. Imagine Joe Sixpack writing the exact same OP about that hoity-toity poser Malick and his pretty pictures or Lubitsch with his outdated morality and JW would go ballistic.

  • The Filmatelist

    Pjm nailed it on the head. It’s impossible to downgrade Ray and not do the same thing to Nick Ray or Minnelli. They’re all great visual stylists who understood that epic sweep can be an emotional plane, not merely a geographic one, so their frames are as densely and brilliantly composed as a Lean or a Stevens from the same period. They also trade in emotional authenticity–not “realism” as we understand it in everyday-talk, but a deep-rooted sensitivity to emotional connection, with its urges and frailties writ large. The obvious contemporary analogue is Almodovar (and Fassbinder before him), though he can afford to be more sexually graphic and overtly playful when the mood suits him. Sirk is unquestionably an acquired taste, but for Wells to blithely assert that because he doesn’t personally connect, that there’s no there-there is to be as reductive and insular as the Eloi he’s always railing against. Imagine Joe Sixpack writing the exact same OP about that hoity-toity poser Malick and his pretty pictures or Lubitsch with his outdated morality and JW would go ballistic.

  • MAGGA

    “Any movies made today discussing race in America like that?”

    I get what you’re saying, but it’s also discussed in words rather than showing us conflict and story. Movies from the first few decades of the sound era often have this problem. The writers seemed to write for the stage rather than the screen.

    However, I would apply Wells’ criticism to Von Triers entire “Golden Hearts”-series (in which I include the “America”-movies”). Pure, static melodrama, disguised by an unusual shooting style, and you “don’t get it” if you call it exploitative or shallow.

  • MAGGA

    “Any movies made today discussing race in America like that?”

    I get what you’re saying, but it’s also discussed in words rather than showing us conflict and story. Movies from the first few decades of the sound era often have this problem. The writers seemed to write for the stage rather than the screen.

    However, I would apply Wells’ criticism to Von Triers entire “Golden Hearts”-series (in which I include the “America”-movies”). Pure, static melodrama, disguised by an unusual shooting style, and you “don’t get it” if you call it exploitative or shallow.

  • Bob Hightower

    I guess the old bias against “melodrama” and “women’s pictures” still persists. Martin Scorsese once said, “If you don’t like the films of Samuel Fuller, then you just don’t like cinema.” The same goes for the films of Douglas Sirk. To better understand his ironic complexity, read Jon Halliday’s interview book SIRK ON SIRK.

    Sirk was one of the most intellectual filmmakers ever to work in Hollywood, and he took material that most people would regard as trash and turned it inside out to make profound critiques of society, usually American society. There are few more powerful or disturbing movies about race than IMITATION OF LIFE. For acute dissections of middle-class hypocrisy, check out THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. For a study of the artistic temperament and how it is despised by squares, see ALL I DESIRE. For a startling depiction of dangerous sexual adventurism, see THE TARNISHED ANGELS. For a harsh depiction of the recklessness of the idle rich and the decadence of the oil culture, see WRITTEN ON THE WIND. Among his other virtues, Sirk saw the class issues in American life that most Americans can’t see because of our national delusion that we don’t have classes in this country.

  • Bob Hightower

    I guess the old bias against “melodrama” and “women’s pictures” still persists. Martin Scorsese once said, “If you don’t like the films of Samuel Fuller, then you just don’t like cinema.” The same goes for the films of Douglas Sirk. To better understand his ironic complexity, read Jon Halliday’s interview book SIRK ON SIRK.

    Sirk was one of the most intellectual filmmakers ever to work in Hollywood, and he took material that most people would regard as trash and turned it inside out to make profound critiques of society, usually American society. There are few more powerful or disturbing movies about race than IMITATION OF LIFE. For acute dissections of middle-class hypocrisy, check out THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. For a study of the artistic temperament and how it is despised by squares, see ALL I DESIRE. For a startling depiction of dangerous sexual adventurism, see THE TARNISHED ANGELS. For a harsh depiction of the recklessness of the idle rich and the decadence of the oil culture, see WRITTEN ON THE WIND. Among his other virtues, Sirk saw the class issues in American life that most Americans can’t see because of our national delusion that we don’t have classes in this country.

  • Glenn Kenny

    I hate to have to do this, Jeff, but I’m breaking up with you. It’s been fun.

  • Glenn Kenny

    I hate to have to do this, Jeff, but I’m breaking up with you. It’s been fun.

  • Anthony Thorne

    Don’t leave us, Glenn.

    I thought the scene was fine. Yeah, it has that slightly louder-than-usual, declarative manner of speech typical of films from the period, but so many 50’s and early 60’s films do that it’s kind of a stylistic trait you have to come to terms with if you’re ever going to watch films from that period. I thought the acting was fine too, but obviously amped up about 15%, which I think is just one of Sirk’s things. Overwrought speech aside, I’d put both of those ladies as working at a higher technical calibre than some current actresses of the same age as the hyperbolic feel of the drama is only achieved through precise technical control. (And if noting this sort of specific detail marks me out as a ‘monk’ then I don’t know what to tell you).

    I’m not the biggest Sirk fan, I saw WRITTEN ON THE WIND at film school and perhaps wasn’t in the mood for it, and if I had to pick something in the scene Jeff posted that irked me I’d probably say the music, as I’ve never really enjoyed that soft, bland, nightclub jazzy method of 50’s scoring, but if you’re going to hammer this Sirk film for the overwrought manner of speech and playing-to-the-back-row scriptwriting, you’d have to include a fuckload more of 50’s and 60’s films in the same category, as they all seem to do it, even (as noted above) Hitchcock, Ford, Huston and other revered masters. It ain’t just Sirk, it’s 50’s/60’s (specifically American) mainstream cinema in general. All that said, I thought the framing and overall look of the Sirk clip was well done, too.

  • Anthony Thorne

    Don’t leave us, Glenn.

    I thought the scene was fine. Yeah, it has that slightly louder-than-usual, declarative manner of speech typical of films from the period, but so many 50’s and early 60’s films do that it’s kind of a stylistic trait you have to come to terms with if you’re ever going to watch films from that period. I thought the acting was fine too, but obviously amped up about 15%, which I think is just one of Sirk’s things. Overwrought speech aside, I’d put both of those ladies as working at a higher technical calibre than some current actresses of the same age as the hyperbolic feel of the drama is only achieved through precise technical control. (And if noting this sort of specific detail marks me out as a ‘monk’ then I don’t know what to tell you).

    I’m not the biggest Sirk fan, I saw WRITTEN ON THE WIND at film school and perhaps wasn’t in the mood for it, and if I had to pick something in the scene Jeff posted that irked me I’d probably say the music, as I’ve never really enjoyed that soft, bland, nightclub jazzy method of 50’s scoring, but if you’re going to hammer this Sirk film for the overwrought manner of speech and playing-to-the-back-row scriptwriting, you’d have to include a fuckload more of 50’s and 60’s films in the same category, as they all seem to do it, even (as noted above) Hitchcock, Ford, Huston and other revered masters. It ain’t just Sirk, it’s 50’s/60’s (specifically American) mainstream cinema in general. All that said, I thought the framing and overall look of the Sirk clip was well done, too.

  • barryegan

    You know, when Jeff’s comments w/r/t Robin Wood & Rio Bravo lit up the cinephile blogosphere, I thought some people were a little harsh in their dismissal of Wells. But this horseshit makes me realize Jim Emerson, et al were in the right.

  • barryegan

    You know, when Jeff’s comments w/r/t Robin Wood & Rio Bravo lit up the cinephile blogosphere, I thought some people were a little harsh in their dismissal of Wells. But this horseshit makes me realize Jim Emerson, et al were in the right.

  • Filmbrain

    Glenn — you warned me, but did I listen? No.

    See you at the weekly dweeb gathering.

  • Filmbrain

    Glenn — you warned me, but did I listen? No.

    See you at the weekly dweeb gathering.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Thank you, Anthony. But I’m gonna have to. Here’s why:

    Jeff’s putatively “respectful” takedown of Sirk is so choked with resentment that it’s simultaneously self-canceling and impossible to formulate a rationale response to. I happen to think that a lot of the critical response to Sirk takes the “subversive” angle too far. I don’t think, for example, that there’s anything particularly “coded” about “Imitation of Life;” it’s a completely sincere statement on race in America that works within the conventions of a Ross Hunter/Fanny Hurst melodrama. Of course because Sirk was an absolute visual master he imbues those conventions with added value, employing a mise-en-scene that often expressed exquisite irony, but I don’t think that’ ths same thing as putting anything over on the audience. I agree that one ought to check out “The Tarnished Angels,” “There’s Always Tomorrow,” and particularly “A Time To Love And A Time To Die” to get a fuller measure of the artists.

    But Jeff’s clearly not interested in having an intelligent discussion of Sirk. Tired of trouncing the Eloi, he arbitrarily decides to have a go at the “dweebs,” or as he sometimes calls them, the “monks,” the “cloistered” “urban” types he’s got some sort of complex about because he thinks they’re lording it over him or something. This vicious anti-intellectual is the real Wells, as opposed to the guy who every now and then drops Pasolini’s name thinking that proves he’s a member of the true church. What bullshit. And then he has the gumption to say that Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” recalls Sirkian melodrama in a “quote-unquote ironic way.” The mind reels.

    And he unloads all this knowing it’s going to be a great meat-tossing session for his commeteriat. “Sucks!” “Snob!” “Douche!” “Emperor’s new clothes!” Well, yes those are all quite reasonable substitutes for actual thought, actual argument.

    And finally, there’s the swipe at Roger Ebert, what, less than a week after Jeff seemed almost ready to go “I’m not worthy” all over the guy.

    He wants to go on spouting this “dweebs” bullshit, he’s welcome to. Like I implied above, I’m gonna miss our Fred Allen-Edgar Bergen routine, but that’s life. I just can’t engage anymore.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Thank you, Anthony. But I’m gonna have to. Here’s why:

    Jeff’s putatively “respectful” takedown of Sirk is so choked with resentment that it’s simultaneously self-canceling and impossible to formulate a rationale response to. I happen to think that a lot of the critical response to Sirk takes the “subversive” angle too far. I don’t think, for example, that there’s anything particularly “coded” about “Imitation of Life;” it’s a completely sincere statement on race in America that works within the conventions of a Ross Hunter/Fanny Hurst melodrama. Of course because Sirk was an absolute visual master he imbues those conventions with added value, employing a mise-en-scene that often expressed exquisite irony, but I don’t think that’ ths same thing as putting anything over on the audience. I agree that one ought to check out “The Tarnished Angels,” “There’s Always Tomorrow,” and particularly “A Time To Love And A Time To Die” to get a fuller measure of the artists.

    But Jeff’s clearly not interested in having an intelligent discussion of Sirk. Tired of trouncing the Eloi, he arbitrarily decides to have a go at the “dweebs,” or as he sometimes calls them, the “monks,” the “cloistered” “urban” types he’s got some sort of complex about because he thinks they’re lording it over him or something. This vicious anti-intellectual is the real Wells, as opposed to the guy who every now and then drops Pasolini’s name thinking that proves he’s a member of the true church. What bullshit. And then he has the gumption to say that Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” recalls Sirkian melodrama in a “quote-unquote ironic way.” The mind reels.

    And he unloads all this knowing it’s going to be a great meat-tossing session for his commeteriat. “Sucks!” “Snob!” “Douche!” “Emperor’s new clothes!” Well, yes those are all quite reasonable substitutes for actual thought, actual argument.

    And finally, there’s the swipe at Roger Ebert, what, less than a week after Jeff seemed almost ready to go “I’m not worthy” all over the guy.

    He wants to go on spouting this “dweebs” bullshit, he’s welcome to. Like I implied above, I’m gonna miss our Fred Allen-Edgar Bergen routine, but that’s life. I just can’t engage anymore.

  • Filmbrain

    Jeff —

    Perhaps you should take your own words to heart:

    “Where’s the upside in confessing to this level of cluelessness?”

  • BT64

    Sirk, like all pop directors of their time, bump into the right material that has a social connection at exactly the right moment. He had a voice, a style, and something to say that sometimes can only be said by a foreigner looking at our culture.

    But like all pop directors, they are remembered much more fondly from the original fan base that has been collected through the years than their films actually merit.

    I re-watched RACE WITH THE DEVIL today and remember quite fondly how much I loved that film in the ’70’s as a kid. But it simply doesn’t hold up anymore.

  • TM

    Bonus points to those who know that the brunette in the film went on to birth Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Golden Compass, New Moon) and Paul Weitz (In Good Company, American Dreamz). And she won a Golden Globe and got an Oscar nomination for that part.

    Personally, I prefer the earlier version of Imitation of Life with Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers.

    Don’t count out the source material either — Fannie Hurst’s novels are melodramatic potboilers. That the material was fit to be made more than once says something. Sirk’s films are an acquired taste — I don’t hate them, I don’t love them. I do remember watching them on TV and my grandmother enjoying them —

    Oh and BTW — people should stop taking swipes at daytime television — Do you know how many well-known, award-winning actors worked on “soap operas” (Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Marissa Tomei, James Earl Jones, Sandy Dennis, Robin Wright, Barnard Hughes, to name but a few)

  • moviemaniac2002

    Another BTW…the hot brunette(another poster’s comment)..Susan Kohner…is the Mom of none other than the Weitz brothers.

  • moviemaniac2002

    Sorry, TM, in my sleep addled haze, missed seeing you already picked up on Kohner’s birthing of the Weitzs.

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    I might not put it so harshly, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Jeff here. Sirk certainly is a visual stylist, but I almost always found those compositions in service to soap opera plotlines and bad acting. I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything particularly deep about the performances of people like Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, and especially Lana Turner (I do like Dorothy Malone in WRITTEN ON THE WIND). Certainly, the parts of IMITATION OF LIFE that involve Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner are heartbreaking to watch, especially that funeral scene at the end. And I like some of Sirk’s movies before Ross Hunter got to him, like LURED, the crime drama he did with Lucille Ball, George Sanders, and Boris Karloff. But that’s all with better actors. The reason why FAR FROM HEAVEN worked for me wasn’t because of Haynes’ meticulous recreation of the time, and of Sirk’s films, but because Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, and Patricia Clarkson et al delivered better, more emotionally direct performances than their 50’s counterparts would have done.

    And as far as studies of middle-class suburbia made around that time period, as far as I’m concerned, I’d take Max Ophuls’ THE RECKLESS MOMENT over any of Sirk’s movies, and that’s as much a melodrama as any of them. Joan Bennett and James Mason get to places Turner and Hudson never came anywhere near.

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    Oh, and sorry, bmcintire, but I still think STALAG 17 holds up very well – it’s one of Holden’s best performances. And while I was never a fan of Joan Crawford, I do think MILDRED PIERCE is very good otherwise.

  • Glenn Kenny

    You say you’re “siding” with Jeff here, Lipranzer, but I think you sell yourself short. You express your opinions with reasoned, balanced language. You cite a good film that you consider better than Sirk’s, and in doing so make a critically useful comparison. (I can’t wait for the proprieter of this site to weigh in on Ophuls!) You don’t use abusive language to characterize those who disagree with you; you don’t come off as if you’re reeling with spite and hatred. Hence, your perspective doesn’t really resemble Jeff’s at all.

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    Fair enough, Glenn, and thank you.

  • LexG

    I don’t know what neck of the woods you guys come from, but… Douglas Sirk?

    I have a Film degree and on an intellectual level I understand the depth and value, and I know if there’s one thing that gives serious film theorists a boner, it’s films that “comment upon and criticique the socioeconomic times of their making!” It’s the central thesis of serious Film Study, but I’ve always found it a rather arbitrary one that merely provides a vaguely Marxist intellectual justification for… a bunch of lazy motherfuckers getting a degree for sitting around watching movies for four years.

    But again… I can’t IMAGINE any of the bros I grew up with or any of our dads, uncles, sporto brothers sitting around watching IMITATION OF LIFE or WRITTEN ON THE WIND.

    “Hey, son, you gonna watch the Browns game tonight?” (clicks open beer)

    “No, Dad, I rented this DOUGLAS SIRK MELODRAMA that takes a jaundiced view of the patriarchal authority, racism and sexual repression inherent in Eisenhower-era suburbia!”

    SMACK. Christ. Just trying to picture running THAT one by my Korean war vet uncles or linebacker brothers or awesome old man and not catching a Robert Loggia-on-youthful Zach Mayonnaise Thai brothel BEATDOWN for being such a pussy.

    Not saying this to BE bullying or homophobic or overly macho, but come on…. Even in your thirties, forties, you guys can REALLY sit around watching some gay-camp soap opera from 1954 and not feel like a TOTAL douchebag? Don’t you picture like Lee Marvin or Charles Bronson or your own dad peering in on you thinking, “Christ, what a walking vag.”

    I realize this is the same deal as my anti-cartoon rant, or my anti-musical rant, but unless you’re female or gay, you have no business watching any of this henhouse shit.

  • LexG

    Forgot to tag that by preemptively saying that, yes, each and every time I go to see a new Twilight movie, no less than the ghost of Paul Motherfucking Kersey himself is up there in Row A at the Arclight giving me the big thumbs-up, because he’s all about K-Stew.

  • Chase Kahn

    …but HIGH NOON is, in fact, better than RIO BRAVO.

  • Chase Kahn

    “It’s the same as the snobs that gush over some 1930s swashbuckler but can’t stand the sight of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They’ll completely ignore any and all merits of what is a high-grade studio blockbuster with wit, excitement and spectacle, but will continue to praise THE EXACT SAME THING as long as it was made before 1970.”

    I get what you’re saying, but like someone else said above, you used a bad comparison. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is pure Jerry Bruckheimer slop. Overlong, over-plotted, messy, inane, etc. I’d have a much easier time sitting through a tripe-header of CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (’37) and THE SEA HAWK than one of the PIRATES sequels.

  • http://www.autopartsinc.com/ Car Parts

    Really It’s a great video. I really love it. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • bluefugue

    Lex, you’re trying too hard. You’re getting boring.

  • bluefugue

    Lex, you’re trying too hard. You’re getting boring.

  • Bob Hightower

    LexG’s absurd rant against Sirk would seem to be a backhanded compliment to the filmmaker and his admirers . . .

  • Bob Hightower

    LexG’s absurd rant against Sirk would seem to be a backhanded compliment to the filmmaker and his admirers . . .

  • LexG

    Bluefugue… a little rude. No need to be so sour about it… My next one will be twice as bad. But, really, that Loggia line was aces, and that second paragraph breaking down the tenets of Film Studies discourse couldn’t have come from any old IMDB mouth-breather, so I respectfully disagree. it was highly amusing. So was the Paul Kersey reference that no doubt SAILED over your head like the Concorde.

    Even as the author and thus biased, I usually re-read my every post or rant five, 10 times, and even *I* am surprised how many levels I operate on, how pinpoint-precise yet varied the references, how skillfully I blur the lines between irony and earnestness to keep the fans off balance.

    I’m fairly close to being the most astute film voice in Los Angeles, so I hate to disappoint. But that was a GOOD RANT.

    And a legit question, really: Could you guys REALLY tell your dad you’re sitting around watching florid Douglas Sirk melodramas?

  • LexG

    Bluefugue… a little rude. No need to be so sour about it… My next one will be twice as bad. But, really, that Loggia line was aces, and that second paragraph breaking down the tenets of Film Studies discourse couldn’t have come from any old IMDB mouth-breather, so I respectfully disagree. it was highly amusing. So was the Paul Kersey reference that no doubt SAILED over your head like the Concorde.

    Even as the author and thus biased, I usually re-read my every post or rant five, 10 times, and even *I* am surprised how many levels I operate on, how pinpoint-precise yet varied the references, how skillfully I blur the lines between irony and earnestness to keep the fans off balance.

    I’m fairly close to being the most astute film voice in Los Angeles, so I hate to disappoint. But that was a GOOD RANT.

    And a legit question, really: Could you guys REALLY tell your dad you’re sitting around watching florid Douglas Sirk melodramas?

  • BurmaShave

    Just once I wish someone in a Sirk movie had made the mistake of letting Jeff Goldblum see where their groceries were getting delivered….

  • BurmaShave

    Just once I wish someone in a Sirk movie had made the mistake of letting Jeff Goldblum see where their groceries were getting delivered….

  • Sam

    lex has contirbuted more to this site than you ever have bluefugue.

    shame on you! perhaps you should try harder.

    Thai brothel beatdown?? fantastic stuff.

  • Sam

    lex has contirbuted more to this site than you ever have bluefugue.

    shame on you! perhaps you should try harder.

    Thai brothel beatdown?? fantastic stuff.

  • frankbooth

    Is BLACK NARCISSUS crap, too? It’s a lurid hunk of ham and cheese by today’s standards.

  • frankbooth

    Is BLACK NARCISSUS crap, too? It’s a lurid hunk of ham and cheese by today’s standards.

  • Eloi Manning

    “I get what you’re saying, but like someone else said above, you used a bad comparison. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is pure Jerry Bruckheimer slop. Overlong, over-plotted, messy, inane, etc. I’d have a much easier time sitting through a tripe-header of CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (’37) and THE SEA HAWK than one of the PIRATES sequels.”

    Chase: I don’t hate any of those ’30s swashbucklers, not like I hate Sirk films. They’re kind of appealing. But I think a great number of the elements that make them appealing are also present in a decent number of today’s blockbusters, Pirates being the obvious direct comparison. But I think these elements are entirely overlooked by a lot of film school critics who have it drilled into them that early Hollywood was full of “masters” and today’s Hollywood is full of hacks.

    LexG is on the money with regard to Sirk. They are the ’50s/’60s equivalents of Nicholas Sparks adaptations, and outside of scholarly study I don’t see any reason why any man would want to watch one. Dress it up however you feel and talk about the photography or the mise-en-scene or the social critique, but at the end of the day they’re dreary, insufferable, overacted WOMEN’S PICTURES made for housewives of the 1960s. Do you guys read back issues of Good Housekeeping too?

  • Eloi Manning

    “I get what you’re saying, but like someone else said above, you used a bad comparison. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN is pure Jerry Bruckheimer slop. Overlong, over-plotted, messy, inane, etc. I’d have a much easier time sitting through a tripe-header of CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (’37) and THE SEA HAWK than one of the PIRATES sequels.”

    Chase: I don’t hate any of those ’30s swashbucklers, not like I hate Sirk films. They’re kind of appealing. But I think a great number of the elements that make them appealing are also present in a decent number of today’s blockbusters, Pirates being the obvious direct comparison. But I think these elements are entirely overlooked by a lot of film school critics who have it drilled into them that early Hollywood was full of “masters” and today’s Hollywood is full of hacks.

    LexG is on the money with regard to Sirk. They are the ’50s/’60s equivalents of Nicholas Sparks adaptations, and outside of scholarly study I don’t see any reason why any man would want to watch one. Dress it up however you feel and talk about the photography or the mise-en-scene or the social critique, but at the end of the day they’re dreary, insufferable, overacted WOMEN’S PICTURES made for housewives of the 1960s. Do you guys read back issues of Good Housekeeping too?

  • Floyd Thursby

    Sirk was a studio director at Universal and had to work with the actors (Jesus, Hudson is a drip) and scripts it was given. Except for TARNISHED ANGELS, they were based on inferior material. Yet Sirk managed to overcome these obstacles through style: use of color, positioning actors and objects within the frame, etc. He’s no Max Ophuls or Michael Powell, but he’s pretty good. TARNISHED ANGELS and WRITTEN ON THE WIND are very good, especially the closing shot in the latter.

    Just watched MILDRED PIERCE, and there’s another case of visual style enhancing pulpy material and bad acting, though this is Crawford’s only bearable performance. That Curtiz knows how to move that camera.

    And I say all this as a devout heterosexual whose favorite actor is Lee Marvin.

  • Floyd Thursby

    Sirk was a studio director at Universal and had to work with the actors (Jesus, Hudson is a drip) and scripts it was given. Except for TARNISHED ANGELS, they were based on inferior material. Yet Sirk managed to overcome these obstacles through style: use of color, positioning actors and objects within the frame, etc. He’s no Max Ophuls or Michael Powell, but he’s pretty good. TARNISHED ANGELS and WRITTEN ON THE WIND are very good, especially the closing shot in the latter.

    Just watched MILDRED PIERCE, and there’s another case of visual style enhancing pulpy material and bad acting, though this is Crawford’s only bearable performance. That Curtiz knows how to move that camera.

    And I say all this as a devout heterosexual whose favorite actor is Lee Marvin.

  • btwnproductions

    BLACK NARCISSUS is wonderful. Really, if you can’t appreciate Sirk or Powell and Pressburger and MILDRED PIERCE and “women’s pictures” you’re only very narrowly a film fan.

  • btwnproductions

    BLACK NARCISSUS is wonderful. Really, if you can’t appreciate Sirk or Powell and Pressburger and MILDRED PIERCE and “women’s pictures” you’re only very narrowly a film fan.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwnproductions: No offence, but that’s an incredibly snobby thing to say. Film isn’t one single entity that you have appreciate in its entirety to be considered a fan. As LexG said, many of us on these boards are obviously film studies students and have therefore been lectured on the merits of Sirk and the reasoning behind the choices he made while producing these films, but due to the inherent subject matter and overarching style they leave us absolutely cold.

    We understand them, but we think they’re shit. That’s okay.

    Wells absolutely nailed it in his original post, with the line “They’re basically saying that you have to be a serious cineaste to recognize Sirk’s genius, and that if you don’t recognize it then you need to think things through because you’re just not as perceptive as you need to be.” Yet so many people here are taking it extremely poorly. Glenn Kenny threatening to quit the boards as a result? What?

    Team Wells all the way on this one.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwnproductions: No offence, but that’s an incredibly snobby thing to say. Film isn’t one single entity that you have appreciate in its entirety to be considered a fan. As LexG said, many of us on these boards are obviously film studies students and have therefore been lectured on the merits of Sirk and the reasoning behind the choices he made while producing these films, but due to the inherent subject matter and overarching style they leave us absolutely cold.

    We understand them, but we think they’re shit. That’s okay.

    Wells absolutely nailed it in his original post, with the line “They’re basically saying that you have to be a serious cineaste to recognize Sirk’s genius, and that if you don’t recognize it then you need to think things through because you’re just not as perceptive as you need to be.” Yet so many people here are taking it extremely poorly. Glenn Kenny threatening to quit the boards as a result? What?

    Team Wells all the way on this one.

  • btwnproductions

    The “Team Wells” and “women’s pictures have cooties” mentality that has crawled out of the asshole of this thread is equally proud and arrogant. I pity the state of film studies programs if this kind of blinkered, muscle-headed, can’t-be-a-man-and-must-be-queer if-I-like-Douglas Sirk thinking is what emerges from them. But maybe they were just bad schools.

  • btwnproductions

    The “Team Wells” and “women’s pictures have cooties” mentality that has crawled out of the asshole of this thread is equally proud and arrogant. I pity the state of film studies programs if this kind of blinkered, muscle-headed, can’t-be-a-man-and-must-be-queer if-I-like-Douglas Sirk thinking is what emerges from them. But maybe they were just bad schools.

  • btwnproductions

    And/or bad students.

  • btwnproductions

    And/or bad students.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwn: Or maybe they taught us to think for ourselves and not blindly follow established critical theory just to make ourselves look superior? And then you say we went to bad schools and claim that we’re the arrogant ones?

    You’re exhibiting all the textbook traits of Sirk fans that Wells detailed in his initial post. “You must be bad students from bad colleges if you don’t like Douglas Sirk”. Jesus. Way to escape that stereotype.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwn: Or maybe they taught us to think for ourselves and not blindly follow established critical theory just to make ourselves look superior? And then you say we went to bad schools and claim that we’re the arrogant ones?

    You’re exhibiting all the textbook traits of Sirk fans that Wells detailed in his initial post. “You must be bad students from bad colleges if you don’t like Douglas Sirk”. Jesus. Way to escape that stereotype.

  • Floyd Thursby

    btwnproductions: You accuse Team Wells of blinkered thinking. Haven’t you read the comments here about politics, women, body types, ageism, etc.? I’m shocked, shocked, that you could make such an accusation.

  • Floyd Thursby

    btwnproductions: You accuse Team Wells of blinkered thinking. Haven’t you read the comments here about politics, women, body types, ageism, etc.? I’m shocked, shocked, that you could make such an accusation.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but thinking for one’s self results in an inability to perceive the difference between a trim, coherent, Michael Curtiz swashbuckler and a silly, overstuffed, ostentatious piece of demographic pandering such as pretty much any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” pictures, then put me down in complete favor of being a film studies sheep. (I didn’t even DO film studies in college, just so you know.)

    “We understand them, but we think they’re shit.” Nicely put, Eloi. Well, there isn’t much point in soft-soaping it; because of the fashion in which you choose to express yourself, I think YOU’RE shit, Eloi. And if I finally choose to absent myself from Wells’ board, that will be the reason why.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but thinking for one’s self results in an inability to perceive the difference between a trim, coherent, Michael Curtiz swashbuckler and a silly, overstuffed, ostentatious piece of demographic pandering such as pretty much any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” pictures, then put me down in complete favor of being a film studies sheep. (I didn’t even DO film studies in college, just so you know.)

    “We understand them, but we think they’re shit.” Nicely put, Eloi. Well, there isn’t much point in soft-soaping it; because of the fashion in which you choose to express yourself, I think YOU’RE shit, Eloi. And if I finally choose to absent myself from Wells’ board, that will be the reason why.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Sorry, first sentence should have read “if thinking for one’s self.”

  • Glenn Kenny

    Sorry, first sentence should have read “if thinking for one’s self.”

  • btwnproductions

    Floyd: I could care less about the fatties, most of whom are probably eating Ding Dong after Ding Dong as they high-five Jerry Bruckheimer while reading (or contributing) to this thread. But take on Douglas Sirk, well, them’s fightin’ words!

    I never went to film school, or took a “film studies” course. If the knuckle-draggers posting on this thread are representative of the student body I made the correct decision.

  • btwnproductions

    Floyd: I could care less about the fatties, most of whom are probably eating Ding Dong after Ding Dong as they high-five Jerry Bruckheimer while reading (or contributing) to this thread. But take on Douglas Sirk, well, them’s fightin’ words!

    I never went to film school, or took a “film studies” course. If the knuckle-draggers posting on this thread are representative of the student body I made the correct decision.

  • George Prager

    Sirk movies are entertaining and made money. They influenced Fassbinder and John Waters. Some of them are so cheesy you can hardly believe it. They rule.

  • George Prager

    Sirk movies are entertaining and made money. They influenced Fassbinder and John Waters. Some of them are so cheesy you can hardly believe it. They rule.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwnproductions: Just went to your personal site and saw this gem:

    “There are a lot of morons on Jeffrey Wells’ site (including, in duller-witted and inadvertently revealing moments like this one, himself) but they’ve rarely been as misogynistic and embarrassing.”

    Haha! Misogyny now? You’re scraping the barrel in your defense of these films, and resorting to FAR MORE personal attacks than any of the anti-Sirk crowd. It’s absurd how you can’t seem to recognize the elitist posturing inherent in every one of your posts. Proving Wells correct with every entry you submit.

    Glenn Kenny: I enjoy your contributions to the site and genuinely hope you don’t leave.

  • Eloi Manning

    btwnproductions: Just went to your personal site and saw this gem:

    “There are a lot of morons on Jeffrey Wells’ site (including, in duller-witted and inadvertently revealing moments like this one, himself) but they’ve rarely been as misogynistic and embarrassing.”

    Haha! Misogyny now? You’re scraping the barrel in your defense of these films, and resorting to FAR MORE personal attacks than any of the anti-Sirk crowd. It’s absurd how you can’t seem to recognize the elitist posturing inherent in every one of your posts. Proving Wells correct with every entry you submit.

    Glenn Kenny: I enjoy your contributions to the site and genuinely hope you don’t leave.

  • medproof

    JW’s take on Sirk is just proletariat snobbery as bad as the kind he condemns.

  • medproof

    JW’s take on Sirk is just proletariat snobbery as bad as the kind he condemns.

  • bluehairbrain

    Film dweebs? You mean like Godard, Tarantino, Todd Haynes, Truffaut, Scorsese, David Lean, Fassbinder, Almodovar, etc…? Those dweebs?

  • bluehairbrain

    Film dweebs? You mean like Godard, Tarantino, Todd Haynes, Truffaut, Scorsese, David Lean, Fassbinder, Almodovar, etc…? Those dweebs?

  • btwnproductions

    Thanks for the hit, Eloi!

  • btwnproductions

    Thanks for the hit, Eloi!

  • Glenn Kenny

    Well, thank you, Eloi.

    My final thoughts on this controversy are a little longwinded, and hence would be impolite to post in comments. I’ve posted them on my blog, and anyone interested can find them here:

    http://somecamerunning.typepad.com/some_came_running/2010/02/anatomy-of-a-reputation.html

  • Glenn Kenny

    Well, thank you, Eloi.

    My final thoughts on this controversy are a little longwinded, and hence would be impolite to post in comments. I’ve posted them on my blog, and anyone interested can find them here:

    http://somecamerunning.typepad.com/some_came_running/2010/02/anatomy-of-a-reputation.html

  • Travis Crabtree

    Anybody keeping count of how many posts Kenny has made since “leaving”?

    Lex…. you make fun of musicals and animation….. but you see the “Twilight” movies?! BWAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH AH AH HA HA

    Fag.

  • Travis Crabtree

    Anybody keeping count of how many posts Kenny has made since “leaving”?

    Lex…. you make fun of musicals and animation….. but you see the “Twilight” movies?! BWAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH AH AH HA HA

    Fag.

  • Mr. Peel

    Did bluehairbrain just quote a line from THE MANHATTAN PROJECT?

  • Mr. Peel

    Did bluehairbrain just quote a line from THE MANHATTAN PROJECT?

  • The Filmatelist

    “Haha! Misogyny now? You’re scraping the barrel in your defense of these films, and resorting to FAR MORE personal attacks than any of the anti-Sirk crowd. ”

    I would claim that you somehow failed to notice Post #41, which managed to liken all Sirk defenders as emasculated panty-wastes, if it wasn’t for the fact that you defended that pile of drivel.

    Imagine if a woman poster came in and posted that Hawks and Peckinpah were all hat and no cattle because the men-will-be-men ethic just didn’t float her boat. “Oh, I get it. I just think it’s testerone shit.” She’d be raked over the coals.

    But essentially, your position is exactly the same. You claim to “get it”, but it’s not your cup of tea. That’s fine. But to somehow conclude that your cup of tea is the only tea in town? *That’s* arrogant.

  • The Filmatelist

    “Haha! Misogyny now? You’re scraping the barrel in your defense of these films, and resorting to FAR MORE personal attacks than any of the anti-Sirk crowd. ”

    I would claim that you somehow failed to notice Post #41, which managed to liken all Sirk defenders as emasculated panty-wastes, if it wasn’t for the fact that you defended that pile of drivel.

    Imagine if a woman poster came in and posted that Hawks and Peckinpah were all hat and no cattle because the men-will-be-men ethic just didn’t float her boat. “Oh, I get it. I just think it’s testerone shit.” She’d be raked over the coals.

    But essentially, your position is exactly the same. You claim to “get it”, but it’s not your cup of tea. That’s fine. But to somehow conclude that your cup of tea is the only tea in town? *That’s* arrogant.

  • Colin

    I’m only 20 and have never seen a Sirk film, but you immediately lost me on the Ebert name-calling.

    Please don’t leave Mr. Kenny, your posts are very worthwhile.

  • Colin

    I’m only 20 and have never seen a Sirk film, but you immediately lost me on the Ebert name-calling.

    Please don’t leave Mr. Kenny, your posts are very worthwhile.

  • Bob Hightower

    After becoming a film scholar in the sixties, I saw to my dismay that “women’s pictures” were despised even by many serious film buffs all through that period and well beyond. Despite the women’s movement (or maybe because of it), the (unfortunately) largely male contingent of film buffs vented their misogyny against such pictures, failing to realize that they often had much more to say about social issues, and did so in more highly sophisticated ways, than most “men’s” pictures. The work of George Cukor is a case in point; though he was equally good with men and women, he usually approached stories from the woman’s point of view. Does that somehow make him a lesser filmmaker? Only if you think women are inferior and their concerns and viewpoints are per se less interesting and valuable than those of men.

    One would think that in today’s world, it would be embarrassing (to say the least) for someone to take that position, but we can see it running rampant in segments of this thread. It took the influence of the women’s movement on academia and film scholarship in general to get film buffs to finally take “women’s pictures” seriously. It’s about time some of the retro characters on this site wake up. I share Glenn Kenny’s dismay at the dismal nature of some of these anti-Sirk comments. Have any of the people making them ever read Fassbinder’s brilliant commentaries on Sirk?

  • Bob Hightower

    After becoming a film scholar in the sixties, I saw to my dismay that “women’s pictures” were despised even by many serious film buffs all through that period and well beyond. Despite the women’s movement (or maybe because of it), the (unfortunately) largely male contingent of film buffs vented their misogyny against such pictures, failing to realize that they often had much more to say about social issues, and did so in more highly sophisticated ways, than most “men’s” pictures. The work of George Cukor is a case in point; though he was equally good with men and women, he usually approached stories from the woman’s point of view. Does that somehow make him a lesser filmmaker? Only if you think women are inferior and their concerns and viewpoints are per se less interesting and valuable than those of men.

    One would think that in today’s world, it would be embarrassing (to say the least) for someone to take that position, but we can see it running rampant in segments of this thread. It took the influence of the women’s movement on academia and film scholarship in general to get film buffs to finally take “women’s pictures” seriously. It’s about time some of the retro characters on this site wake up. I share Glenn Kenny’s dismay at the dismal nature of some of these anti-Sirk comments. Have any of the people making them ever read Fassbinder’s brilliant commentaries on Sirk?

  • Terry McCarty

    Floyd Thursby wrote:

    Just watched MILDRED PIERCE, and there’s another case of visual style enhancing pulpy material and bad acting, though this is Crawford’s only bearable performance. That Curtiz knows how to move that camera.

    Anticipating the comments here when the Todd Haynes/Kate Winslet HBO miniseries debuts.

  • Terry McCarty

    Floyd Thursby wrote:

    Just watched MILDRED PIERCE, and there’s another case of visual style enhancing pulpy material and bad acting, though this is Crawford’s only bearable performance. That Curtiz knows how to move that camera.

    Anticipating the comments here when the Todd Haynes/Kate Winslet HBO miniseries debuts.

  • Robert Cashill

    Thanks, Filmatelist. And thanks, Eloi. I’m now posting under my own name, so I’ll really be going after you pseuds.

  • Robert Cashill

    Thanks, Filmatelist. And thanks, Eloi. I’m now posting under my own name, so I’ll really be going after you pseuds.

  • Robert Cashill

    I suspect a few people here have never heard of Fassbinder, Bob Hightower. You know–foreign, subtitles, “unmanly.”

  • Robert Cashill

    I suspect a few people here have never heard of Fassbinder, Bob Hightower. You know–foreign, subtitles, “unmanly.”

  • Eloi Manning

    “But to somehow conclude that your cup of tea is the only tea in town? *That’s* arrogant.”

    Well then both sides are guilty of that in this debate.

    “I suspect a few people here have never heard of Fassbinder, Bob Hightower. You know–foreign, subtitles, “unmanly.””

    You’re being silly now. You’re saying that the anti-Sirk crowd are anti-sophistication, anti-cinema, anti-intellectual – that has never been the argument and you know it.

  • Eloi Manning

    “But to somehow conclude that your cup of tea is the only tea in town? *That’s* arrogant.”

    Well then both sides are guilty of that in this debate.

    “I suspect a few people here have never heard of Fassbinder, Bob Hightower. You know–foreign, subtitles, “unmanly.””

    You’re being silly now. You’re saying that the anti-Sirk crowd are anti-sophistication, anti-cinema, anti-intellectual – that has never been the argument and you know it.

  • John M

    Well, this site’s officially taken a turn for the worse. Bad enough are the mindnumbingly boring Oscar predictions, reports from third-rate festivals, cut-and-paste rehashes of reviews the moderator agrees with, obsessions with looks and body types, and rote liberal politics. Now, weirdly, Wells has turned into some kind of self-loathing Sarah Palin, railing at the “elites” for force-feeding him Douglas Sirk when he’s so OBVIOUSLY bad. This in turn baits a bunch of halfwits to roll back the decades by calling any man who watches a melodrama a fag. (and what could be worse than being a “fag”?)

    What’s the value of Hollywood Elsewhere now? I’m stumped.

  • John M

    Well, this site’s officially taken a turn for the worse. Bad enough are the mindnumbingly boring Oscar predictions, reports from third-rate festivals, cut-and-paste rehashes of reviews the moderator agrees with, obsessions with looks and body types, and rote liberal politics. Now, weirdly, Wells has turned into some kind of self-loathing Sarah Palin, railing at the “elites” for force-feeding him Douglas Sirk when he’s so OBVIOUSLY bad. This in turn baits a bunch of halfwits to roll back the decades by calling any man who watches a melodrama a fag. (and what could be worse than being a “fag”?)

    What’s the value of Hollywood Elsewhere now? I’m stumped.

  • Michael Strangeways

    One of the primary reasons the thousands of female, gay male and sensible straight men stay away from sites like this and the Film Geeks Boys Club is crap discussions like this…the whole Film loving world doesn’t revolve around worshipping Ford, Hawks, Fuller, Peckinpoof, David Fucking Lean and Goddamned comic book/fantasy shit fests like Lord of The Rings. (and, I like Ford, Hawks and Fuller but they are not the Center of the Fucking American Filmmaking Universe).

    You have me ranting and I’m not even that huge of a Sirk fan, (he’s good; not great, and most valuable as being a huge influence on subsequent filmmakers) but I’m sick of “women’s” films constantly getting dumped on and derided because they’re “boring” or “overwrought” or “too emotional”. It’s so much bullshit.

    And anyone who badmouths Mildred Pierce is just a complete buffoon…the actors are great, the direction is sharp, the cinematography is brilliant and the story is compelling (even if the plotting gets a little bogged down in places, a flaw of most noir). If you can’t enjoy sitting down to watch two hours of Mildred Pierce, then I feel sorry for you…that bitch rules.

  • Michael Strangeways

    One of the primary reasons the thousands of female, gay male and sensible straight men stay away from sites like this and the Film Geeks Boys Club is crap discussions like this…the whole Film loving world doesn’t revolve around worshipping Ford, Hawks, Fuller, Peckinpoof, David Fucking Lean and Goddamned comic book/fantasy shit fests like Lord of The Rings. (and, I like Ford, Hawks and Fuller but they are not the Center of the Fucking American Filmmaking Universe).

    You have me ranting and I’m not even that huge of a Sirk fan, (he’s good; not great, and most valuable as being a huge influence on subsequent filmmakers) but I’m sick of “women’s” films constantly getting dumped on and derided because they’re “boring” or “overwrought” or “too emotional”. It’s so much bullshit.

    And anyone who badmouths Mildred Pierce is just a complete buffoon…the actors are great, the direction is sharp, the cinematography is brilliant and the story is compelling (even if the plotting gets a little bogged down in places, a flaw of most noir). If you can’t enjoy sitting down to watch two hours of Mildred Pierce, then I feel sorry for you…that bitch rules.

  • bluetide

    LexG, I sat down in my family living room and popped in Moulin Rouge while my football coach father was sitting there right after it came out on DVD. You know what he did? He laughed and went downstairs and watched ESPN. I was a straightlaced football player who just happened to like films and didn’t feel the need to only watch “man films” to prove his masculinity. My dad was OK with that. I’m sorry yours was an asshole but that’s doesn’t have shit to do with Sirk, who is overrated but still deserves credit for his style and all the subversive stuff he was able to smuggle into mainstream movies.

    Imagine watching the Blind Side twenty years on and realizing that the director was telling you that Tim McGraw and the football player were banging the whole time. That’s Douglas Sirk. It doesn’t make him a master, but it does make him pretty interesting.

  • bluetide

    LexG, I sat down in my family living room and popped in Moulin Rouge while my football coach father was sitting there right after it came out on DVD. You know what he did? He laughed and went downstairs and watched ESPN. I was a straightlaced football player who just happened to like films and didn’t feel the need to only watch “man films” to prove his masculinity. My dad was OK with that. I’m sorry yours was an asshole but that’s doesn’t have shit to do with Sirk, who is overrated but still deserves credit for his style and all the subversive stuff he was able to smuggle into mainstream movies.

    Imagine watching the Blind Side twenty years on and realizing that the director was telling you that Tim McGraw and the football player were banging the whole time. That’s Douglas Sirk. It doesn’t make him a master, but it does make him pretty interesting.

  • YND

    “I am always suspicious of anyone who earnestly claims they watch this stuff for fun, unless they’re a 90-year old woman or a camp old queen.”

    “dreary, insufferable, overacted WOMEN’S PICTURES made for housewives of the 1960s. Do you guys read back issues of Good Housekeeping too?

    But then when someone says that you’re “only narrowly a film fan” if you can’t appreciate “women’s pictures”, the above poster gets hurt:

    “No offence, but that’s an incredibly snobby thing to say. Film isn’t one single entity that you have appreciate in its entirety to be considered a fan. As LexG said, many of us on these boards are obviously film studies students and have therefore been lectured on the merits of Sirk and the reasoning behind the choices he made while producing these films, but due to the inherent subject matter and overarching style they leave us absolutely cold. We understand them, but we think they’re shit. That’s okay.”

    Apparently if you understand them and think they’re GOOD, however, that’s not okay. At least not if you’re a man.

    Nice company you keep, Wells.

  • YND

    “I am always suspicious of anyone who earnestly claims they watch this stuff for fun, unless they’re a 90-year old woman or a camp old queen.”

    “dreary, insufferable, overacted WOMEN’S PICTURES made for housewives of the 1960s. Do you guys read back issues of Good Housekeeping too?

    But then when someone says that you’re “only narrowly a film fan” if you can’t appreciate “women’s pictures”, the above poster gets hurt:

    “No offence, but that’s an incredibly snobby thing to say. Film isn’t one single entity that you have appreciate in its entirety to be considered a fan. As LexG said, many of us on these boards are obviously film studies students and have therefore been lectured on the merits of Sirk and the reasoning behind the choices he made while producing these films, but due to the inherent subject matter and overarching style they leave us absolutely cold. We understand them, but we think they’re shit. That’s okay.”

    Apparently if you understand them and think they’re GOOD, however, that’s not okay. At least not if you’re a man.

    Nice company you keep, Wells.

  • Eloi Manning

    This has turned out to be a great thread. Full marks to me and LexG for stimulating discussion, and to Wells for kicking it off with a bold statement of fact.

  • Eloi Manning

    This has turned out to be a great thread. Full marks to me and LexG for stimulating discussion, and to Wells for kicking it off with a bold statement of fact.

  • The Filmatelist

    Don’t flatter yourself, Eloi. I generally like your posts, but you’re just a couple steps from LexG’s bridge in this thread.

    “Thanks, Filmatelist. And thanks, Eloi. I’m now posting under my own name, so I’ll really be going after you pseuds.”

    ??????

  • The Filmatelist

    Don’t flatter yourself, Eloi. I generally like your posts, but you’re just a couple steps from LexG’s bridge in this thread.

    “Thanks, Filmatelist. And thanks, Eloi. I’m now posting under my own name, so I’ll really be going after you pseuds.”

    ??????

  • John M

    Hey Eloi Manning, where’d you get that film studies degree anyway? (the spelling of “offence” suggests Hogwarts.). Seriously, who’d you study under? Really, I’m curious.

  • John M

    Hey Eloi Manning, where’d you get that film studies degree anyway? (the spelling of “offence” suggests Hogwarts.). Seriously, who’d you study under? Really, I’m curious.

  • Eloi Manning

    Thanks, Filmatelist.

    Ultimately though, I’m not sure why some people are complaining about the state of Wells’ site based on this entry and thread. Surely this has been a robust, impassioned discussion about Douglas Sirk that you wouldn’t get on hardly any other movie websites? Yeah, it’s got antagonistic at times, but only mildly, and at the end of day the pro-Sirk crowd have been able to express their love of his movies, while the anti-Sirk crowd have been able to read opinions that bolster or add to their own.

    I’d say this has been an excellent entry in the HE archive. Wouldn’t you rather have a thread like this than one about teabaggers or statutory rape?

  • Eloi Manning

    Thanks, Filmatelist.

    Ultimately though, I’m not sure why some people are complaining about the state of Wells’ site based on this entry and thread. Surely this has been a robust, impassioned discussion about Douglas Sirk that you wouldn’t get on hardly any other movie websites? Yeah, it’s got antagonistic at times, but only mildly, and at the end of day the pro-Sirk crowd have been able to express their love of his movies, while the anti-Sirk crowd have been able to read opinions that bolster or add to their own.

    I’d say this has been an excellent entry in the HE archive. Wouldn’t you rather have a thread like this than one about teabaggers or statutory rape?

  • YND

    Dude, if you can’t discern the difference between “a robust, impassioned discussion about Douglas Sirk” and an angry, reactionary series of slurs about how no one who calls themselves a “man” could possibly like [fill in the blank with "salad", "theater", "light beer" or the masculine cliche of your choosing]… trust me, you’re part of the problem.

    I certainly hope you’re 15 or younger. Youth is pretty much the only excuse for that kind of retrograde form of “discussion”.

  • YND

    Dude, if you can’t discern the difference between “a robust, impassioned discussion about Douglas Sirk” and an angry, reactionary series of slurs about how no one who calls themselves a “man” could possibly like [fill in the blank with "salad", "theater", "light beer" or the masculine cliche of your choosing]… trust me, you’re part of the problem.

    I certainly hope you’re 15 or younger. Youth is pretty much the only excuse for that kind of retrograde form of “discussion”.

  • LexG

    Seriously, it should be kept in mind that my anti-Sirk ravings came courtesy of a 37-year-old man who actively went to see “Leap Year,” “Post Grad,” and “Valentine’s Day” in a theater, and awaits each new “Twilight” movie with the intensity of a goateed USC screenwriter wannabe already in line at the Grauman’s circa April 1999.

    I’d hate to think anyone *really* thinks I’m homophobic, but I WILL cop to being utterly at a loss when it comes to the appeal of, or even the concept of, “camp.” Much like a woman who says “Westerns are boring” or “I hate war movies because they’re so violent,” I don’t want to write off an important genre or subset of film like a total phillistine… and I respect that “camp” and melodrama are concepts with tremendous gay appeal and are in some ways entwined with gay identity (or so Wikipedia tells me)…

    But I just don’t understand why; When you broach the subject, smart gay critics or film observers tend to get a little nervous and worry you’re stereotyping… But I’d be genuinely interested: What IS the emotional, psychological connection between being gay, and enjoying camp? Enjoying melodrama, kitsch, over-the-top emotion, women in peril, put-upon women experiencing the perils of Pauline, etc? Sirk, Almodovar, Glee, Desperate Housewives, teenage “satires” where all the cheerleaders are tart-tongues sass-tresses and the jocks are closet cases?

    Christ, I always figured if I was gay, I’d just be happy sitting around watching “Troy” all day or something, not diva-ish, dramatic women and their shrewish arch-enemies conning hapless men and firing off bitchy lines at each other. I don’t “get” why that’s appealing for anyone, guy or straight, man or woman. Just kinda makes me bristle and feel embarrassed. Maybe because in general, I don’t like IRONY, I like films and works of art to be serious, intense, raw emotion. A crucial element of camp is this sort of knowing, above-it-all but basking in the florid emotions anyway snarky superiority. I hate that kind of thing. I like movies to be dead serious and think they should be processed and received on that level. Not via tittering and “tee-hee”-ing. But that’s just me.

  • LexG

    Seriously, it should be kept in mind that my anti-Sirk ravings came courtesy of a 37-year-old man who actively went to see “Leap Year,” “Post Grad,” and “Valentine’s Day” in a theater, and awaits each new “Twilight” movie with the intensity of a goateed USC screenwriter wannabe already in line at the Grauman’s circa April 1999.

    I’d hate to think anyone *really* thinks I’m homophobic, but I WILL cop to being utterly at a loss when it comes to the appeal of, or even the concept of, “camp.” Much like a woman who says “Westerns are boring” or “I hate war movies because they’re so violent,” I don’t want to write off an important genre or subset of film like a total phillistine… and I respect that “camp” and melodrama are concepts with tremendous gay appeal and are in some ways entwined with gay identity (or so Wikipedia tells me)…

    But I just don’t understand why; When you broach the subject, smart gay critics or film observers tend to get a little nervous and worry you’re stereotyping… But I’d be genuinely interested: What IS the emotional, psychological connection between being gay, and enjoying camp? Enjoying melodrama, kitsch, over-the-top emotion, women in peril, put-upon women experiencing the perils of Pauline, etc? Sirk, Almodovar, Glee, Desperate Housewives, teenage “satires” where all the cheerleaders are tart-tongues sass-tresses and the jocks are closet cases?

    Christ, I always figured if I was gay, I’d just be happy sitting around watching “Troy” all day or something, not diva-ish, dramatic women and their shrewish arch-enemies conning hapless men and firing off bitchy lines at each other. I don’t “get” why that’s appealing for anyone, guy or straight, man or woman. Just kinda makes me bristle and feel embarrassed. Maybe because in general, I don’t like IRONY, I like films and works of art to be serious, intense, raw emotion. A crucial element of camp is this sort of knowing, above-it-all but basking in the florid emotions anyway snarky superiority. I hate that kind of thing. I like movies to be dead serious and think they should be processed and received on that level. Not via tittering and “tee-hee”-ing. But that’s just me.

  • crazynine

    “Christ, I always figured if I was gay, I’d just be happy sitting around watching “Troy” all day or something, not diva-ish, dramatic women and their shrewish arch-enemies conning hapless men and firing off bitchy lines at each other.”

    And there are plenty of gay men today who would join you in watching Troy, drinking beer and playing football. It’s just that back in Sirk’s time, they’d be so far in the closet that they’d never peek out (hence the repressed angst).

    But the more flamboyantly gay *could* be out, or at least what approximated “out” for the time. They were just called fashionable, artistic, creative, etc. The first modern public gay identities established were in the artistic world, hence the significance of artsy stuff (seen even then as “women’s work” outside of the coastal urban areas). This translated into appreciation of camp (aka, extreme arty stuff).

    Had the roles been reversed– aka, the masculine gays been accepted into the greater culture before the artsy ones– then we’d probably think of gay culture entirely differently today, without all the judging against the historically stereotypical “faggy queen of camp” crowd of homosexuals.

    As for Sirk: eh. Pretty pictures, significant for their day, but nothing that makes me crazy.

  • crazynine

    “Christ, I always figured if I was gay, I’d just be happy sitting around watching “Troy” all day or something, not diva-ish, dramatic women and their shrewish arch-enemies conning hapless men and firing off bitchy lines at each other.”

    And there are plenty of gay men today who would join you in watching Troy, drinking beer and playing football. It’s just that back in Sirk’s time, they’d be so far in the closet that they’d never peek out (hence the repressed angst).

    But the more flamboyantly gay *could* be out, or at least what approximated “out” for the time. They were just called fashionable, artistic, creative, etc. The first modern public gay identities established were in the artistic world, hence the significance of artsy stuff (seen even then as “women’s work” outside of the coastal urban areas). This translated into appreciation of camp (aka, extreme arty stuff).

    Had the roles been reversed– aka, the masculine gays been accepted into the greater culture before the artsy ones– then we’d probably think of gay culture entirely differently today, without all the judging against the historically stereotypical “faggy queen of camp” crowd of homosexuals.

    As for Sirk: eh. Pretty pictures, significant for their day, but nothing that makes me crazy.

  • Robert Cashill

    The reason why things get ugly here is that it’s all people posting under fake names.I think it raises the tone of the discussion if people post under their real names–or makes you think twice about saying something truly hurtful. My opinions are my own, not my, err, “avatar’s.” An “Eloi Manning” means nothing to me, but if he (or she) were to post under his (or her) real name we might get somewhere (unless, of course, that is his or her real name, in which case I feel nothing but pity. :))

    The folks at Dave Kehr’s blog mix it up about this stuff, too–but (almost) always civilly. Why? Real names.

  • Robert Cashill

    The reason why things get ugly here is that it’s all people posting under fake names.I think it raises the tone of the discussion if people post under their real names–or makes you think twice about saying something truly hurtful. My opinions are my own, not my, err, “avatar’s.” An “Eloi Manning” means nothing to me, but if he (or she) were to post under his (or her) real name we might get somewhere (unless, of course, that is his or her real name, in which case I feel nothing but pity. :))

    The folks at Dave Kehr’s blog mix it up about this stuff, too–but (almost) always civilly. Why? Real names.

  • Pjm

    Robert:

    Exactly. I made the same point about 50 posts ago. It’s the Achilles heel of the entire internet. Is speech free if you don’t claim it as your own?

    -Paul M.

  • Pjm

    Robert:

    Exactly. I made the same point about 50 posts ago. It’s the Achilles heel of the entire internet. Is speech free if you don’t claim it as your own?

    -Paul M.

  • bill weber

    This is about all you can expect from an Eloi who thinks Million Dollar Baby is “a great art film” instead of City for Conquest with breasts.

  • bill weber

    This is about all you can expect from an Eloi who thinks Million Dollar Baby is “a great art film” instead of City for Conquest with breasts.

  • http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners Jeeemerson

    I don’t know what it is you think you don’t “get” about Sirk, because it’s all right there. But I guess if you confess you see no difference between “Imitation of Life” (or “All That Heaven Allows” or “Written on the Wind”) and “The Guiding Light,” then you get what you see and that’s the way it is. If you don’t understand what melodrama is, then you don’t understand Josef von Sternberg or Murnau or Brecht or Ophuls or Fassbinder or film noir. Your loss.

  • http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners Jeeemerson

    I don’t know what it is you think you don’t “get” about Sirk, because it’s all right there. But I guess if you confess you see no difference between “Imitation of Life” (or “All That Heaven Allows” or “Written on the Wind”) and “The Guiding Light,” then you get what you see and that’s the way it is. If you don’t understand what melodrama is, then you don’t understand Josef von Sternberg or Murnau or Brecht or Ophuls or Fassbinder or film noir. Your loss.

  • Bob Violence

    “respectful”

    “unwatchable”

    “dweebs”

    “banal”

    “snob game”

    “schoolyard bully move”

    “intellectual con”

    Seriously, what the fuck? Is Jeff autistic?

  • Bob Violence

    “respectful”

    “unwatchable”

    “dweebs”

    “banal”

    “snob game”

    “schoolyard bully move”

    “intellectual con”

    Seriously, what the fuck? Is Jeff autistic?

  • The Filmatelist

    “The reason why things get ugly here is that it’s all people posting under fake names.I think it raises the tone of the discussion if people post under their real names–or makes you think twice about saying something truly hurtful.”

    Fair enough. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a low blow, and my issue will always be with the argument, not the poster.

    But I work in the industry, so I can’t necessarily be as open to posting my thoughts if it can be easily traced back to me. Take that for what it’s worth.

  • The Filmatelist

    “The reason why things get ugly here is that it’s all people posting under fake names.I think it raises the tone of the discussion if people post under their real names–or makes you think twice about saying something truly hurtful.”

    Fair enough. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a low blow, and my issue will always be with the argument, not the poster.

    But I work in the industry, so I can’t necessarily be as open to posting my thoughts if it can be easily traced back to me. Take that for what it’s worth.

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