Celebrate Rock Hudson’s birthday this week with the movie that really made him a star, a remake of a Robert Taylor movie based on a popular book by Lloyd C. Douglas, who often included religious themes in his stories. (Both movies are included in the Criterion edition.)
Hudson plays a careless playboy whose boating accident deprives a beloved doctor of lifesaving equipment. The doctor dies. His widow (Jane Wyman) discovers that he had been quietly helping dozens of people, requiring only two things: that they never tell anyone and that they never pay him back. He asked them to pass the aid along to others instead. That was his “magnificent obsession.”
No one was better with melodrama than Douglas Sirk. In his first American film, he amped up the luscious technicolor but it was still not as purple as the emotions, especially after the playboy has another catastrophic encounter with the widow before finally finding a magnificent obsession of his own.