Douglas Sirk

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Douglas Sirk (born Hans Detlef Sierck; April 26, 1897 – January 14, 1987) was a Danish-German film director best known for his work in Hollywood melodramas in the 1950s.

Contents

Life and work

Sirk was born Hans Detlef Sierck in Hamburg, Germany to Danish parents. He was raised in Denmark, but later moved to Germany as a teenager. He spread his education over three universities. He started his career in 1922 in the theatre of the Weimar Republic, including the direction of an early production of The Threepenny Opera. He joined UFA (Universum Film AG) in 1934, but left Germany in 1937 because of his political leanings and Jewish wife. On arrival in the United States, he soon changed his German name. By 1942 he was in Hollywood, directing the stridently anti-Nazi Hitler's Madman.

He made his name with a series of lush, colorful melodramas for Universal-International Pictures from 1952 to 1958: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), and Imitation of Life (1959). But it was at the pinnacle of his high-profile accomplishments as Universal's most successful director that he left the United States and filmmaking. He died in Lugano, Switzerland nearly thirty years later, with only a brief and obscure return behind the camera in Germany in the 1970s.

Reputation

Contemporary reception

Sirk's melodramas of the 1950s, while highly commercially successful, were generally very poorly received by reviewers. His films were considered unimportant (because they revolve around female and domestic issues), banal (because of their focus on larger-than-life feelings) and unrealistic (because of their conspicuous style).

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