Arguably Sirk’s most jaw-droppingly subversive film follows the spoiled scions (Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone) of a Texas oil family whose monstrous delinquency—he’s an alcoholic, she’s sleeping with half the town—engulfs two relatively normal outsiders (Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall) in a depraved domestic horror show. Never has Technicolor looked so lurid, as unchecked neuroses pile up, phallic symbols abound (those oil derricks!), and Malone (in an Oscar-winning performance) does a (literally) killer rumba. As audacious formally as it is thematically, Written on the Wind finds Sirk pushing his byzantine visual style so deliriously over the top that it’s almost avant-garde.
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