“Once you find the way, you’ll be bound. It will obsess you, but believe me, it will be a magnificent obsession.”
A reckless playboy (Rock Hudson) involved in a boating accident pursues the widow (Jane Wyman) of a beloved doctor whose life was lost when Hudson was using the only resuscitation device available. When he accidentally causes Wyman to lose her sight, he seeks solace and guidance from a kind sculptor (Otto Kruger), who urges him to adapt the deceased doctor’s spiritual practice of secretive philanthropy. Soon Hudson is pursuing Wyman from a new perspective, under an assumed identity — much to the chagrin of her protective stepdaughter (Barbara Rush) and best friend (Agnes Moorehead).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that while it’s “not prime Sirk”, this “glossy, melodramatic remake of the 1935 John Stahl classic” is nonetheless “an enjoyable tearjerker” featuring “an earnest performance by Hudson” in his breakthrough role. Peary gives away a few too many spoilers in his review for me to quote it more extensively, but suffice it to say that he calls out the film’s Christian/spiritual underpinnings, which were a prominent feature of the source novel by minister Lloyd C. Douglas. In his much-more-cynical review, DVD Savant refers to the screenplay as “a rickety stack of accidents and ironies”, the dialogue as “painfully trite and often unintentionally funny”, and the underlying moral thrust — which he believes is corrupt — as “Presbyterian Guilt, [or] an exaggerated sense of responsibility”; he’s clearly not a fan of the film (or the story). My position lies somewhere in between both perspectives. Unless you buy into Sirk’s unique sensibility, you’re likely to find the entire film just a skosh removed from high camp — which is not to say you won’t enjoy some of its more melodramatic moments. There’s something undeniably moving about seeing a playboy genuinely reformed — and I found Hudson’s attraction to Wyman much more believable here than in their follow-up film, All That Heaven Allows. While this one is ultimately only must-see for Sirk completists, film fanatics will probably enjoy seeing it at least once.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Russell Metty’s rich Technicolor cinematography
No, though film fanatics will likely be curious to see the first of Sirk’s most iconic mid-century melodramas.