Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Written on the Wind (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Written on the Wind (1956)

In Douglas Sirk's tempestuous, sordid and soap-opera-ish Technicolored melodrama about an unhappy family in 1950s Texas:

  • the characterization of alcoholic, gun-loving Texas millionaire, oil heir and playboy Kyle Hadley (Oscar-nominated Robert Stack), impulsively and newly-married to level-headed NY executive secretary Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall) - under the title credits, Kyle was driving in an open sports-car while opening a bottle of alcohol with his teeth and swigging from it
  • the flashback from 1956 to 1955, signified by pages of a desk calendar blowing backward in time in the wind
  • the scenes portraying Kyle's jealous, promiscuous, unstable and nymphomaniacal sister Marylee (Oscar-winning Dorothy Malone): ("I'm filthy, period!")
  • the sequences of Marylee's infatuation and close friendship with Kyle's best friend and oil company geologist Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson), offering herself to him while riding in a car with him: "Do you love me, Mitch?... I don't want you as a brother...I'll wait, and I'll have you, marriage or no marriage"
  • the sequence of Kyle stunned by a doctor's report (in a coffee shop) that he was near-sterile with a low sperm count - afterwards, he walked outside and viewed a young boy on a rocking horse!
  • Lucy's expression of her concerns about her husband Kyle to elder patriarch Jasper Hadley (Robert Keith), who she said was drinking more heavily, showing signs of personal demons, and becoming abusive, although he was unwilling to divulge the source of his torment: "We let him drink, hoping he'd talk and tell us what was on his mind. But we learned nothing, except that he's terribly tormented"
  • in the next scene, the delirious Kyle was heard talking in his sleep by Lucy, obsessing about Mitch: "Kid stuff, Mitch. I want to buy a new car, the first flashy car. To hell with college. I wanna have fun with some girls. Nice over in Dallas. To hell with college. Wanna make some money, Mitch? Over at the bottling plant. Old man Daley's place. No, I haven't got any bottles. Old man Daley has. Don't touch me. Touch me, I'll tell my father. That's what I'll do. My father. We weren't stealing, were we, Mitch? We were just stacking some bottles up for you. That's all we were doing, wasn't it, Mitch? Mitch? Mitch. Wait for me. Wait for me!"
  • the self-hating and suicidal Kyle's mad and insane suspicions that Mitch and his wife Lucy were having an affair - and his vicious attack upon Lucy when she became pregnant and told him: ("We're going to have a baby...our baby, yours and mine...Kyle, it's true") - he wrongly accused her that she had been impregnated by Mitch: ("You and Mitch!...What did you think? Do you think I was just a drunken idiot? Did I believe you? That I let you use my name, take my money. You can rot in hell! - You, Mitch, and your little...(he slapped her) You dirty tramp!") - the attack led to Lucy's miscarriage
  • the striking scenes of lustful Marylee's provocative and very sexual mambo 'death' dance (dressed in a full-length, orchid pink negligee) in her bedroom (with a picture of Mitch in her arms) -- symbolically intercut with Jasper Hadley having a heart attack and toppling down the full length of the Hadley mansion's spiral-curved staircase to his death
  • the concluding scenes of the courtroom inquest into Kyle's accidental death (when Kyle threatened to kill Mitch, the gun fired during a struggle and hit Kyle) - and Marylee's testimony - she first blamed Mitch for Kyle's death: ("Mitch Wayne was there in the study with my brother. Kyle had a gun in his hand. He was raving mad -- raving about things that weren't so. Mitch tried to talk to him, to make him understand how wrong he was, to stop him from using the gun. Afraid he might even use it on himself. I made a grab for the gun. Kyle and I struggled. The gun went off") - but then told the truth about Mitch's pure intentions: "...he was worried about Kyle - as a brother for a brother"; she concluded (the film's final line of dialogue) with words about her brother: "He was sad -- the saddest of us all. He needed so much and had so little"
  • the film's most striking, final sexually-phallic image: Marylee mimicked her father's pose (in front of his painted portrait) at her father's desk, as she clutched, caressed/fondled (with both hands) and smiled at the miniature bronze model of an oil rig derrick - a small, erect symbol of power, wealth, and comfort


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