Sirk delivers a devastating takedown of 1950s family values in this caustic domestic nightmare disguised as a romantic melodrama. Fred MacMurray stars as a browbeaten L.A. toy manufacturer whose insufferable children and ineffectual wife (lent nice depth by Joan Bennett) drive him into the arms of a fashion-designer old flame (Barbara Stanwyck). Sirk’s visual coup is the indelible image of a wind-up toy robot (a not-so-subtle metaphor for MacMurray) marching obediently toward oblivion. Ultimately, the film makes the jaw-dropping case that infidelity can be a justifiable escape from the suffocating boredom of domesticity—but that it, too, may only offer the illusion of happiness.
Introduction by filmmaker Zach Clark at 8:45pm screening
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