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Douglas Sirk

June 15, 2003 - June 29, 2003

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Magnificent Obsession, June 27

"Sirk has made the tenderest films I know; they are the films of someone who loves people, and doesn't despise them as we do."—R. W. Fassbinder

First in Germany, then in postwar Hollywood, Douglas Sirk made melodramas, dark reflections of characters who take the mirror image of life for the real thing. His postwar films combine a European intellectual's distanced view of the crazy dreams that dominate American culture with a deep sympathy for the tragic impact those dreams have on individual lives. Sirk's fusion of cynicism and sentiment in a precise visual baroque ("a director's philosophy is lighting and camera angles," he once said) has been a major inspiration for filmmakers from Fassbinder to Todd Haynes. Looking forward to a group of new prints of Fassbinder works that will screen at PFA in August and September, we present these nine films, inviting you to experience Sirk on the big screen, to rediscover his irony and his tenderness.

Juliet Clark

Sunday, June 15, 2003
5:30 a.m. THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW
Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray rekindle an old flame in a wonderful, melancholy melodrama that "demolishes the social fantasy of the 'happy home.'"—Time Out

Saturday, June 21, 2003

8:45 p.m. ALL I DESIRE
A period melodrama that resolutely refuses nostalgia: Barbara Stanwyck returns to a small-town family and soon discovers why she left in the first place. A rare screening of a Sirk classic.

Saturday, June 21, 2003
7:00 a.m. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS
Rock Hudson comes to prune widow Jane Wyman's garden and uproots her sterile, upper-middle-class suburban life in this elegiac, Thoreauvian mood piece that inspired Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
5:30 a.m. THE FIRST LEGION
Sirk discovers the absurd in the divine with this tale of miracles, faith, and doubt, enlivened by fine performances from Charles Boyer and William Demarest.

Friday, June 27, 2003
7:30 a.m. WRITTEN ON THE WIND
With garish jukebox colors and unabashed psychosexual symbolism, Sirk details the last days of an oil dynasty—Malone & Stack, Hudson & Bacall—at the midpoint of the 20th century.

Friday, June 27, 2003
9:30 a.m. MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION
Rock Hudson rocketed to stardom as a do-it-yourself savior in this color melodrama about blindness. "Redolent with stereotype, archetype, and symbol."—Errol Morris

Saturday, June 28, 2003

8:40 p.m. TARNISHED ANGELS
Reporter Rock's fascination with the marginal lives of fairground flier Stack and his wife Malone. "The tracking shots, the crane shots, the pans! I have rarely felt fear and loneliness so much as in this film."—R.W. Fassbinder

Saturday, June 28, 2003
7:00 a.m. SHOCKPROOF
Sirk stylishly directs a punchy Sam Fuller script about the doomed relationship between a parole officer and an ex-con, lovers on the run from an unforgiving society.

Sunday, June 29, 2003
5:30 a.m. IMITATION OF LIFE
Famous mother-daugher weepie with a bitter racial edge. "All of us in the theater cried. Because changing the world is so difficult."—Fassbinder