Douglas Sirk

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soundchaser
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#76 Post by soundchaser » Wed May 27, 2020 8:18 pm

All I Desire and There’s Always Tomorrow coming from Kino on August 25th.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#77 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 8:22 pm

What does a guy have to do to get Sirk's best film (and arguably the best American non-musical comedy of the 50s) Has Anybody Seen My Gal? on blu?

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whaleallright
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#78 Post by whaleallright » Wed May 27, 2020 8:27 pm

I watched that film recently and while it's charming and elegantly constructed, it bewilders me that anyone can claim it as his "best" film. There are not only at least a half dozen of his Universal pictures that are better by almost any measure, but several of his German films as well. IDGI.

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senseabove
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#79 Post by senseabove » Wed May 27, 2020 8:30 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:22 pm
What does a guy have to do to get Sirk's best film (and arguably the best American non-musical comedy of the 50s) Has Anybody Seen My Gal? on blu?
Buy any and every Sirk Kino releases so they think he's a cash cow and go for more deep cuts in their next Universal deal? Or pray that Indicator/Arrow Academy does a box... The rights for A Time to Love... and Tarnished Angels presumably went somewhere in the UK after the Eureka editions went OoP.

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domino harvey
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#80 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 27, 2020 8:31 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:27 pm
I watched that film recently and while it's charming and elegantly constructed, it bewilders me that anyone can claim it as his "best" film. There are not only at least a half dozen of his Universal pictures that are better by almost any measure, but several of his German films as well. IDGI.
In this house, we praise Charles Coburn dancing

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#81 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 8:35 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:27 pm
I watched that film recently and while it's charming and elegantly constructed, it bewilders me that anyone can claim it as his "best" film. There are not only at least a half dozen of his Universal pictures that are better by almost any measure, but several of his German films as well. IDGI.
I'm not a Sirk-booster, and Coburn has never made me laugh so hard, so that probably explains it
senseabove wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:30 pm
Buy any and every Sirk Kino releases so they think he's a cash cow and go for more deep cuts in their next Universal deal? Or pray that Indicator/Arrow Academy does a box... The rights for A Time to Love... and Tarnished Angels presumably went somewhere in the UK after the Eureka editions went OoP.
I just bought Tarnished Angels from Kino's sale after almost paying insane prices for the OOP MoC last year. One of the few dramas of his I adore, along with Written on the Wind.

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soundchaser
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#82 Post by soundchaser » Wed May 27, 2020 8:40 pm

I’d love Has Anybody Seen My Gal? too. I think I remember reading...somewhere? that a restoration of it was floating around on TV, but it’s not up on the backchannels, and Elephant’s release of it is DVD-only.

I don’t think it’s Sirk’s absolute best, but I *am* a Sirk booster and it would be sixth in my vote for a hypothetical list project. (Above the two Stanwyck films that kicked off this discussion.)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#83 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 8:45 pm

It's currently my second highest-ranked comedy (outside of two musicals) for the 50s project. The first is my favorite Ozu so perhaps I should be discredited for preferring the comedy works from these 'masters of drama.' Few things have made me laugh harder than Coburn's deadpan delivery in the painting scene.

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senseabove
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#84 Post by senseabove » Wed May 27, 2020 8:45 pm

I just bought Tarnished Angels from Kino's sale after almost paying insane prices for the OOP MoC last year. One of the few dramas of his I adore, along with Written on the Wind.
Is the Imogen Sarah Smith commentary any good? IIRC, I've enjoyed her on podcasts and video essays before, but those aren't necessary good predictors for whether someone gives good commentary.




And now I want a Sirk list project so I have a motivation to polish off his deeper cuts on a schedule and with what's available, rather than waiting.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#85 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 8:49 pm

senseabove wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:45 pm
Is the Imogen Sarah Smith commentary any good?
I haven't got my order yet but I'll try to give it a listen at some point soon and let you know, though I doubt that'll be before the sale ends

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soundchaser
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#86 Post by soundchaser » Wed May 27, 2020 8:49 pm

A Sirk list project would be difficult, since so many of his (admittedly not top-tier) films are totally unreleased on DVD at all. But if it gets more people to see this one and Interlude, I’d be all for it.

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#87 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed May 27, 2020 9:00 pm

I've heard Imogen Sarah Smith commentaries in the past but not that particular one. Some are better than others, but she's always very knowledgeable.

I'm currently working my way through Sirk's filmography (chronologically) and have never seen Has Anybody Seen My Gal? but i'm looking forward to that one given the praise I've seen here. Sirk did well with his early comedy outings in Germany (with hints of Rene Clair and Lubitsch) so it will be interesting to see one of his American comedies (I'd mostly only seen his major melodramas prior to this)

Having just finished his European films, I'd love to see an Early Sirk box with his German films (a la the MOC Lubitsch set) so more people can see them. At the very least Schlußakkord absolutely deserves a release of it's own as I'd place that one in the top tier of Sirk films I've seen (It would certainly rank very high if I were to make a 30's list).

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#88 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 9:16 pm

Thanks for the tip, Glowingwabbit, I'll definitely look into those!

soundchaser, I'll check out Interlude off your praise, since it seems I've missed that one (unless I forgot I watched it, which is entirely possible outside of any reflection on the film). Of course none of this is motivating me at the current moment as I organize a chronological viewing schedule of Howard Hawks for the next actual list project

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soundchaser
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#89 Post by soundchaser » Wed May 27, 2020 9:20 pm

Interlude is a deeply weird film, and if you bounce off June Allyson (which I don’t *think* is an issue for you, if I remember correctly), then you probably won’t get much out of it. But I can’t help being fascinated by it — it’s probably the closest thing to a horror film Sirk ever made.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#90 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 9:26 pm

That's very intriguing, and as a lover of Good News and The Reformer and the Redhead she's alright by me

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#91 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed May 27, 2020 10:08 pm

senseabove wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:45 pm
Is the Imogen Sarah Smith commentary any good? IIRC, I've enjoyed her on podcasts and video essays before, but those aren't necessary good predictors for whether someone gives good commentary.
I wrote my thesis on Sirk and The Tarnished Angels, so I may be a little biased but I found her commentary to be lacking. I listened to it once and sold off my Kino (I managed to buy the OoP MOC for $20). For someone less knowledgable about Sirk, including how the critical histories that have prevailed for the last fifty years (admittedly enabled by Sirk himself, who some argue did so intentionally) misrepresent his body of work, I think it'll be valuable. I really like Smith generally, so was disappointed. It's a little dry and doesn't really engage with Sirk's actual work, cinematically speaking, as much as the basic outline and ideas of the film. I should note though, that for me one of the pleasures of commentaries is to hear a critic (or whoever) engage with the work as its being shown, so as to highlight and direct our viewing; I tend to get bored when they start to refer to encyclopedic details that I could very easily read on the web or in any written pieces. If you can pick it up cheap, I recommend getting it, especially if you don't have another version.

As for this other discourse: Has Anybody Seen My Gal? is indeed one of Sirk's best––but certainly not his best, although it comes close for its sheer elegance and erudition (it is, however, probably his most lovable). The Tarnished Angels or Imitation of Life are for me, after many revisits of most of his films, his greatest. Although it's also silly to suggest that that Gal? is his only funny one––Imitation of Life is incredibly funny, in a darker, more ironic way of course.

Interlude is a weaker film, and its stiffness doesn't help when compared to Stahl's masterpiece When Tomorrow Comes, which it's a vague reworking of. I'm glad to see, however, Shlussakkord getting some praise because it really is a great, great work and shows how Sirk was pretty much fully-formed as a filmmaker by 1936. It certainly makes the Criterion Channel labelling his 1946-1949 films as 'early films' seem silly and oblivious. If anyone is having difficulty getting their hands on these last two films, by the way, feel free to DM me.

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senseabove
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#92 Post by senseabove » Wed May 27, 2020 10:18 pm

Tarnished is also, most days, my favorite Sirk, which is why I have the temptation to pick it up just for a commentary, since I already own the Eureka release... Maybe I'll just save the Kino to round out a cart one day. Thanks!

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#93 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 10:24 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:08 pm
Although it's also silly to say that Gal? is his only funny one––Imitation of Life is incredibly funny, in a darker, more ironic way of course.
Did anyone say Has Anybody Seen My Gal? is Sirk's "only" funny movie? Ozu has plenty of comedies too, and weaves comedy into most of his dramas, but my point was that they're both more well-known for their command of dramatic moods. I also find many of Sirk's best moments to be handoffs between comic amusement and raw unfunny truths, but as you say, Gal? holds onto a brighter comic tone that is unlike anything I've personally seen from him.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#94 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed May 27, 2020 10:28 pm

Sorry, TWBB, I wasn't referring to you. I got caught up in my own internal monologue, which has many (often infuriating) voices I've read over the years bouncing around in it.

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#95 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed May 27, 2020 10:39 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:08 pm

It certainly makes the Criterion Channel labelling his 1946-1949 films as 'early films' seem silly and oblivious.
A Scandal in Paris (1946) is next for me and having just watched the 11 feature films that come before that one I'm glad to finally be at his "early" films. :-k

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#96 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 27, 2020 10:57 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:28 pm
Sorry, TWBB, I wasn't referring to you. I got caught up in my own internal monologue, which has many (often infuriating) voices I've read over the years bouncing around in it.
It's cool, I honestly had to go back and make sure nobody did, including me, which says something. I should give Imitation of Life another shot one of these days. We watched that and the Stahl back-to-back in college and deeply analyzed them in the context of racial dynamics in film history, and I haven't had the interest in revisiting them since. I'll look forward to your writeups for those Sirks in the 50s thread at some point

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#97 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu May 28, 2020 4:19 pm

For those interested, Interlude has a fairly strong copy on YT for free. I enjoyed the bookends of the film more than the meat in the middle. We first get a juxtaposition of June Allyson excitedly smiling as she approaches her destination, only for a “friend of the family” male doctor to call and declare the “best medicine” is to be with a man, a stranger immediately intruding in on her freedom through her employer, the very moment she arrives! “You’re smarter than you look” is one of his first lines to her (and is taken as a compliment) and Dr. Dwyer immediately declares he’s her best option, coercing her into a permanent union with forceful persuasion -a courting process that feels like assault.

The ensuing relationship with the conductor is deceptive, and Allyson’s inner conflict is a fair ethical dilemma regarding her promises to herself and others, vs. 'what the heart wants.' The philosophical questions become emotional ones, as they often do in Sirk’s melodramas, and yet this is all more internalized than usual, which I appreciated even if it amounted to less interest as a result. Regarding a “horror” comparison, I get it in the sense that the mentally-ill wife is trapped (and traps him) in a web of doomed concrete. She functions a bit like a ghost haunting the couple, but one who we empathize with because she is human, and I personally wondered (perhaps as a stretch) if her German ancestry hinted at a trauma rooted in WWII activities or poverty from loss.

Others more familiar with Sirk can probably comment more in this area, but I’m interested in the motive behind his choice to bring an American character to Germany to integrate back there post-WWII. I know Sirk did return there after the war briefly, and that soon after this film was made he retired and went back to Europe, so his expatriate status was obviously in some conflict around this time period. I also wonder about the parallels with his own wife being in danger from the Nazis, prompting his escape, and if her own traumatic experience, even just the fear from very real threats, was an inspiration for the dynamic. I’m not insinuating that this relationship is a reflection of Sirk's, (I'm sure if they had a happy marriage, but they stayed married until death), and am speculating that this could be an imagined bizarro world of 'what could have been.'

Reni’s loneliness and abandonment is fully-realized by her, and in the process she is desperate to hold onto the only stability she has, even if it means unreturned love. It’s not out of idealistic social-emotional goals, but this as a need on a physiological level. She's the best part of the film, but also the only variable I felt drawn to with curiosity, so I hate to say this one ultimately joins the pile of Sirks that didn't do it for me.

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#98 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu May 28, 2020 6:39 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 4:19 pm
Others more familiar with Sirk can probably comment more in this area, but I’m interested in the motive behind his choice to bring an American character to Germany to integrate back there post-WWII. I know Sirk did return there after the war briefly, and that soon after this film was made he retired and went back to Europe, so his expatriate status was obviously in some conflict around this time period.
Sirk claims that this was the film he had the smallest role in shaping of all the late pictures. He literally says "The story is in no way mine" in Sirk on Sirk. So while that doesn't change any arguments you can make about the film itself, I suspect the motivation was more in line with the general craze in the 50s of making films very European, as detailed in Runaway Hollywood. Sirk would, a few pictures later, actually return to Germany to make A Time to Love and a Time to Die, which he was much more hands on about, and which was much more consciously drawn from his biography.

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soundchaser
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Re: Douglas Sirk

#99 Post by soundchaser » Thu May 28, 2020 6:49 pm

Although how much the Sirk of that book is to be trusted is a big question...

I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Interlude as much as I’d hoped, TWBB, but I always appreciate your thoughts on films regardless! I’m glad you picked up on what I think are some of the more horror-tinged elements (Allyson’s only options being men, the almost-ghost of a wife, etc.) too. I thought of another film this one reminds me of: Secret Beyond the Door. They both have characters circling a central void (whether literal or metaphorical) that comes to define their relationship. Although I prefer the Sirk to the Lang.

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Re: Douglas Sirk

#100 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu May 28, 2020 7:01 pm

The more I think about it, the creepier the opening is... for Dwyer to call a stranger to inquire about another stranger, as soon as she walks in the door, so confidently with such high expectations. I felt unsettled in the moment, but there is something conspiratorially satanic about the way her beginnings in Germany unfold, intentionally or not.

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