|Sirk's favorite leading man and Daves' principal star.|
Round 2 - Delmer Daves did a masterful job of integrating story locations into his films. The most lasting image from A Summer Place is of Troy and Sandra Dee holding each other passionately on the beach... desperately in love, aching to be together, trying to find a secret place to be alone...as the ocean splashes on the shores (OK, it's not From Here to Eternity, but it's still memorable). Likewise, the New England tobacco fields in Parrish and the stunning California coast of Susan Slade enhance these tales of young love. In contrast, it seems like the settings are incidental in Sirk's films, with the possible exception of Written on the Wind (and even then, most of the action takes place indoors).
|Susan Slade: An example of Daves' integration of location.|
|Hudson and Bacall in muted colors in Written on the Wind.|
Round 5 - Sirk's admirers claim that his soaps are rife with subtext: All That Heaven Allows is an indictment on social conformity; Imitation of Life takes aim at racial inequality, etc. Of course, one could make similar arguments for Daves' films: out-of-wedlock pregnancies play a key role in Parrish, A Summer Place, and Susan Slade. In the latter two films, the teenage mothers become social outcasts (societal conformance is so strong in Susan Slade that the pregnant girl's mother passes the child off as her own!). This is pretty much a draw, but I'll give the edge to Sirk because his films have garnered more documented critical acclaim--and even got the Criterion treatment.
|Grant Williams worked for both directors.|
If you've followed my scoring of this fight, it's three rounds to Delmer, two to Doug, and one tie. The winner--by decision--is Delmer Daves. He's now the undisputed "King of the Movie Soaps." It's a title he has long deserved. Anyone interested in staging a rematch? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.