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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Magnificent Obsession (1935)

When a wealthy playboy's (Robert Taylor) life is saved by the hospital's only pulmotor (a resuscitator), a beloved and respected doctor dies because of the lack of the pulmotor. The doctor's widow (Irene Dunne) and daughter (Betty Furness) resent him but he falls in love with the widow. When she is blinded in an accident, he feels responsible and is determined to redeem himself. Based on the Lloyd C. Douglas (THE ROBE) best seller, the John M. Stahl film was remade with much more resonance and artistry in 1954 by Douglas Sirk. This version has an overly generous amount of humor (much of it provided by the annoying Charles Butterworth) which only dilutes the drama. The humor also provides an inconsistency in Dunne's character. One scene has her bitter and hating Taylor's character because he is alive while her husband died then in the next scene, they're all romcom cute in a car. Taylor is fine when he doesn't try to act but when he does, it's wincing and he's especially terrible when he tries to act drunk. The religious references and imagery are also much more overt than in the 1954 film. The undistinguished score is by Franz Waxman. With Sara Haden and Ralph Morgan.

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