Initial DVD releaseAugust 21, 2001 Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateDecember 1956 (1956-12) Based onWritten on the Wind (1945 novel) WriterGeorge Zuckerman (screenplay), Robert Wilder (based on the novel by) CastRock Hudson (Mitch Wayne), Lauren Bacall (Lucy Moore Hadley), Robert Stack (Kyle Hadley), Dorothy Malone (Marylee Hadley), Robert Keith (Jasper Hadley), Grant Williams (Biff Miley) Similar moviesFind Your Man, Below the Line, Under the Black Eagle, My Dad, Jaws of Steel, Jamon Jamon
TaglineThe story of a decent love...that fought to live against the vice and immorality of an oil baron's wastrel family...and of the ugly secret that thrust their privates lives into public view!
Written on the Wind is a 1956 American Technicolor drama film directed by Douglas Sirk starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone.
The screenplay by George Zuckerman was based on Robert Wilder's 1945 novel of the same name, a thinly disguised account of the real-life scandal involving torch singer Libby Holman and her husband, tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds. Zuckerman shifted the locale from North Carolina to Texas, made the source of the family wealth oil rather than tobacco, and changed all the character names.
written on the wind opening dir douglas sirk 1956
Self-destructive, alcoholic nymphomaniac Marylee (Dorothy Malone) and her insecure, alcoholic playboy brother Kyle (Robert Stack) are the children of Texas oil baron Jasper Hadley (Robert Keith). Spoiled by their inherited wealth and crippled by their personal demons, neither is able to sustain a personal relationship.
Problems ensue after Kyle's impulsive marriage to New York City executive secretary Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall), who becomes a steadying influence to his life through the first few months after they meet. Kyle resumes drinking after being unsuccessful in fathering a baby. He turns against his childhood friend, Marylee's long-time infatuation, Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson), a geologist for the oil company. Kyle's anger and depression grow after the death of his father, who admires Mitch but is disgusted with the behavior of his two heirs.
Mitch is secretly in love with Lucy. He keeps these feelings private until Kyle, having been diagnosed with a low sperm count, physically assaults Lucy when she announces her pregnancy, wrongly assuming it to be the result of adultery with Mitch. Lucy's fall results in a miscarriage. Mitch vows to leave town with her as soon as she's well enough to travel. On his return, a drunken Kyle recovers a hidden pistol and intends to shoot Mitch. Marylee struggles with her brother for the weapon, but it accidentally fires, killing him.
Repeatedly spurned by the man she claims to love, a spiteful Marylee threatens to implicate Mitch in Kyle's death. At the inquest, she first testifies that he killed her sibling. But she tearfully redeems herself at the last second by admitting the truth. Mitch and Lucy depart, leaving Marylee to mourn the death of her brother and run the company alone.
Rock Hudson as Mitch Wayne
Lauren Bacall as Lucy Moore Hadley
Robert Stack as Kyle Hadley
Dorothy Malone as Marylee Hadley
Robert Keith as Jasper Hadley
Grant Williams as Biff Miley
Edward Platt as Dr. Paul Cochrane
Robert J. Wilke as Dan Willis
Harry Shannon as Hoak Wayne
John Larch as Roy Carter
Joseph Granby as Judge R.J. Courtney
Roy Glenn as Sam
Maidie Norman as Bertha
William Schallert as Jack Williams—Reporter
Joanne Jordan as Brunette
In his review in the New York Times upon the initial release of the film, Bosley Crowther said, "The trouble with this romantic picture . . . is that nothing really happens, the complications within the characters are never clear and the sloppy, self-pitying fellow at the center of the whole thing is a bore."
In 1998, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a perverse and wickedly funny melodrama in which you can find the seeds of Dallas, Dynasty, and all the other prime-time soaps. Sirk is the one who established their tone, in which shocking behavior is treated with passionate solemnity, while parody burbles beneath . . . To appreciate a film like Written on the Wind 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. His interiors are wildly over the top, and his exteriors are phony - he wants you to notice the artifice, to see that he's not using realism but an exaggerated Hollywood studio style . . . Films like this are both above and below middle-brow taste. If you only see the surface, it's trashy soap opera. If you can see the style, the absurdity, the exaggeration and the satirical humor, it's subversive of all the 1950s dramas that handled such material solemnly. William Inge and Tennessee Williams were taken with great seriousness during the decade, but Sirk kids their Freudian hysteria."
TV Guide describes the film as "the ultimate in lush melodrama," "Douglas Sirk's finest directorial effort," and "one of the most notable critiques of the American family ever made."
Awards and nominations
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Malone, winner)
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Stack, nominee)
Academy Award for Best Song (nominee)
Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (Malone, nominee)