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Magnificent Obsession - Criterion Collection
Magnificent Obsession - Criterion Collection
Actors: Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, Robert Taylor
Director: Douglas Sirk
Genres: Drama
NR     2009     1hr 48min

Reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his breakthrough role) crashes his speedboat, requiring emergency attention from the town s only resuscitator at the very moment that beloved local Dr. Phillips has a heart att...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, Robert Taylor
Director: Douglas Sirk
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics
Studio: Criterion Collection
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/20/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1954
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1954
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 48min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 35
Edition: Special Edition,Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Contains a double feature of the classic story
calvinnme | 10/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Criterion collection is adding both the 1935 and 1954 versions of Magnificent Obsession to its list of classics getting the deluxe treatment. Thus you are not only getting the Wyman/Hudson version of this film, but also the 1935 Irene Dunne/Robert Taylor version which has never been released either on DVD or VHS. Both were Universal properties, but the last time I saw the 1935 version it was so dark I wasn't sure it could be salvaged to the point we would ever see it on DVD. I was happily wrong.

The center of the story is Robert Merrick ( Hudson in 1954, Robert Taylor in 1935). He is a well-to-do playboy that has a boating accident at the same time that Dr. Hudson has a coronary. There is one piece of life-saving equipment available in the area, and it winds up saving Merrick's life. Hudson's family and the entire community can't help but be a little bit resentful that such a seemingly useless young man, whose accident was due to his own recklessness, has been spared at the expense of the beloved Dr. Hudson. This causes Merrick to begin to reflect on life and as a result he is told by Edward Randolph about Hudson's "magnificent obsession" - doing good with little fanfare and getting paid back many times over. Unfortunately, Merrick doesn't quite understand. He thinks of this process as a vending machine. He puts in a quarter ( a good work), presses a button and then says "gimme". However, Merrick is the indirect cause of a second tragedy that finally does put his life on the right path over a period of years.

In spite of the poor film quality, I think I preferred the 1935 version to the one from the 50's although I loved them both. The 30's version focuses more on Merrick's inner turmoil and transition while the 50's version is more of a melodrama and love story. The best thing about the 50's version - the chemistry between Wyman and Hudson. You would never think such a thing would work unless you saw it yourself, but it does. Also, there is Otto Kruger as Edward Randolph, the man who helps put Merrick on the right track. In the 30's Kruger could play some really hardened character, but here he is as gentle as Santa Claus. It's quite a tribute to his acting skills - I think he was always underrated.

The extra features are:
Audio commentary featuring film scholar Thomas Doherty
Douglas Sirk: From UFA to Hollywood (1991): a rare 80-minute documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects upon his career.
Video interviews with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow, paying tribute to Sirk.
Theatrical trailer .
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien."
Rosemary E. Lloyd | Elberon,, NJ United States | 05/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While there may be some elements that are slightly unbelievable (the widow doesn't recognize immediately the voice of the man who blinded her and whose carelessness resulted in her husband's death even though she'd met him before? When she finds out, she actually not only forgives him his deception but falls in love with him?) this is nevertheless a fine, romantic, lush production of an equally fine novel. Many boast about Rock Hudson's performance and it is excellent. His transformation from a selfish, spoiled millionaire's son to a caring neurologist who woos and wins Jane Wyman's character is totally believable. But, to me, it is Jane Wyman who steals the show as the afflicted, blinded widow Helen Phillips. She is totally believable as a newly blinded woman who somehow comes to terms with the fact that she probably will never see again. And the supporting cast, especially Otto Kruger as the philosophical artist is also excellent. And, speaking of philosophy, the book on which this movie is based has a definite, important message which comes through loud and clear without hammering us in the head or preaching at the viewer. The message is not lost in translation to the screen although that often happens when a book is made into a movie. These elements, combined with the spectacular color, lush music and beautiful scenery help to make "Magnificent Obsession" a typical, wonderful, old-fashioned 3-hankie "woman's picture." It's nearly 50 years old but it's still a marvelous rainy-day picture that will uplift and delight any woman who views it."
Not Clear Enough
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've seen this movie on television many times. I'm a dyed in the wool Rock Hudson fan, so naturally I loved this movie. However, I've also read the book, and I don't think the movie made it clear what the story was really about. It focused on the love story--naturally--it's Hollywood! But the real story is a spiritual one, and I wish that could have been brought out more. Although the DVD isn't out yet, I sincerely hope the studio chooses to put it out--I'll add it to my collection"
Another Classy Special Edition from Criterion
Cubist | United States | 01/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Technicolor melodramas don't get much better than the ones Douglas Sirk made: All That Heaven Allows - Criterion Collection, Written on the Wind - Criterion Collection and Imitation Of Life (Two-Movie Special Edition) (Universal Legacy Series). It was Magnificent Obsession, however, that paved the way for those later masterpieces. Sirk's film was based on Lloyd C. Douglas' 1929 novel of the same name - a sudsy romance novel that became a best seller. The book was first adapted onto film in 1935 but the author wasn't too happy with the results. Sirk did not like the source material and hadn't seen the 1935 film and later described his own version as a "combination of kitsch and craziness and trashiness."

The first disc features an audio commentary by film scholar Thomas Doherty. He starts off by talking about how Technicolor was used to lure people back to movie theaters after the rise of television. Naturally, he gives a biographical sketch of Douglas Sirk including his transition from European cinema to Hollywood. Doherty does an excellent job of analyzing the film's style and its themes on this very informative track.

"Tributes to Sirk" features filmmakers and Sirk fans Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow talking about their love of his films. Anders shows off her vintage Sirk movie posters and speaks about how her mother introduced her to his films. Bigelow cites Written on the Wind as an important influence on her films, especially her first one, The Loveless. Bigelow talks about how she discovered his films and recounts how she actually got to meet the director at the Lacarno Film Festival where The Loveless had its world premiere.

Also included is a theatrical trailer.

The second disc includes the 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession directed by John M. Stahl and starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. It is fine effort but certainly lacks the visual flare of Sirk's version.

"From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers" is a feature-length documentary released in 1991. It features a rare 1980 interview with the man. He reflects, in detail, on his life and career with an emphasis on his time at Universal Pictures."