|I'm afraid I can't agree with the trailer.|
|The film's promotional spots highlighted|
Douglas's novel (and Jane's hand).
|Merrick (Hudson) begins to get serious.|
One day, Merrick encounters Helen by the lake and the two begin talking. He calls himself Robinson (Robby for short) to avoid revealing his identity. As love begins to grow, Merrick starts pursuing his medical studies again and vows to do all that he can to restore Helen's sight.
|Lana Turner in the superior|
Imitation of Life.
Alas, while Magnificent Obsession has good intentions, it never comes close to becoming a good film. The screenplay condenses Lloyd C. Douglas' philosophical underpinnings to a ten-minute conversation that sounds like a paid ad for a self-help book. The banal dialogue doesn't help, with my favorite line being Merrick's response to a comment about painting: "As far as I'm concerned, art is just a guy's name." But the script's biggest problem is that nothing much happens after Helen reveals she has known Robby's identity for a long time. There's no conflict in the film's final 40 minutes as it lumbers toward its obvious conclusion.
|Hudson and Wyman share an embrace.|
From a production standpoint, Magnificent Obsession is a blotch on Sirk's otherwise stellar career as a celluloid craftsman. While the color scheme is interesting, the use of painted backdrops and rear screens give the film a cheap look (that said, there are some stunning outdoor shots at the beginning of the film). However, the biggest distraction is the overly melodramatic score by Frank Skinner, which opts for sweeping violins and a chorus of "ah"'s at the tiniest whiff of emotion.
Magnificent Obsession has its share of admirers...and you may be one. (Heck, it was even released in a deluxe edition by Criterion). If you're among its fans, I encourage you to leave a dissenting comment. However, I was obsessed to write this review and state how magnificently lame I found it to be.