One of the best classes I've had when I was at the university was about Hollywood melodramas. Actually I didn't have to follow those lessons, but the subject was so intriguing I did it anyway as an extra class.
I've always loved melodramas, expecially the 50s ones with their mix of high and low issues packed in a "luxurious wrap".
The king of this genre certainly was Douglas Sirk ; he was able to combine cheesy sentimentalism and irony like no one else. His colorful, sophisticated and vibrant Technicolor, the wild criticism below banality and the strong symbolism of each of his movies make of him not only a greatly representative director, but a real icon for a lot of others, from Godard to Almodovar, from Fassbinder to Haynes.
In Sirk's movies there are recurring symbols, like staircases - where characters live, love and die - and mirrors which, sort of Dorian Gray's portrait, reflect the real inner of people and at the same time show what is seen and unseen to characters.
But there are also lots of other little details, like all the masculine "naughty and phallic" ones scattered in Written On The Wind : big cars, aeroplanes, guns and, of course, oil wells!
Written On The Wind is my favorite of Sirk movies and it's really over the top: a trashy thing on the surface - "Sort of tacky 'fifties version of Dallas", like said in Jonathan Coe's The House Of Sleep - but dark, satyrical and funny in the deep.
A Freudian story of jealousy, misunderstandings and tons of sexual frustration in the torrid Texas of oil tycoons. A great piece of fascinating cinema, where "the style conceals the message".
(Side note: I love the hat below...!)
Read this interview with Douglas Sirk and I'm sure you'll soon would watch all his classics. Written On The Wind, Imitation Of Life , Magnificent Obsession , All That Heaven Hallows , There's Always Tomorrow and The Tarnished Angels - Italian title Il trapezio della vita , that sounds like "the trapeze of life" - same cast of Written On The Wind minus Lauren Bacall.
A movie I adore just because Roger (Robert Stack) literally wins his wife LaVerne (Dorothy Malone) at dice...!