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||IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 3,875 votes
||Release: 11 February 1955 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Drama, Romance
||Director: Douglas Sirk,
||Stars: Agnes Moorehead, Alexander Campbell, Barbara Rush, Fred Nurney, Gregg Palmer, Helen Kleeb, Jane Wyman, John Mylong, Judy Nugent, Otto Kruger, Paul Cavanagh, Richard H. Cutting, Rock Hudson, Rudolph Anders, Sara Shane
||Synopsis: When churlish, spoiled rich man Bob Merrick foolishly wrecks his speed boat, the rescue team resuscitates him with equipment that's therefore unavailable to aid a local hero, Dr. Wayne Phillips, who dies as a result. Phillips had helped many people, and when Merrick learns Phillips' secret, to give selflessly and in secret, he tries it in a ham-handed way. The result further alienates Phillips' widow, Helen, with whom Merrick has fallen in love. Merrick's persistence causes another tragedy, and he must remake his life, including going back to medical school, in an attempt to make amends and win her love. Written by <[email protected]>
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Watch Magnificent Obsession - Alternative Versions.
My unashamed love for the films of Douglas Sirk may be described as an
obsession, but it is to me, of course, a magnificent obsession. My
attempts to influence others as to Sirk's genius have mostly failed.
He's a director whose work you either get, or not. Those who view his
works as camp masterpieces are very much missing the point. What is
intrinsic in works of camp is the end product being appreciated in a
manner that the creator had not intended. However, every camera angle
of each frame, every nuance, indeed every color in every shot is
totally intentional in all of Sirk's major films.
"Magnificent Obsession" is far from Sirk's best work, but it is perhaps
his most important. Though he had made films in many genres, it was
"All I Desire", his 1952 melodrama that paved the way for what would
become his special place in cinema history. In the often ridiculed
genre of so called "woman's movies", Sirk discovered there was great
scope for artistic expression as well as social criticism and much more
in this apparently vacuous genre. "Magnificent Obsession" is the first
film in which this vision is realised.
To understand why this happened at all one must remember that Sirk was
under a long term contract with Universal throughout the fifties, when
they were by all accounts an inferior studio. As an European immigrant
in need of work, Sirk signed to Universal, with the full understanding
of the type of projects that would be offered to him. His intellectual
and rich theatrical background would be put to use in clearly inferior
material. When asked about this, he gave the example of how many of
Shakespeare's plots are weak and uninteresting in themselves; it's the
language that makes them art. Sirk was a master of cinematic language
in all its aspects. The plots of his movies are often truly abysmal,
but the language always pure joy to behold. "Magnificent Obsession" is
a prime example of the abyss between screenplay and the cinematic
After reading the script of "Magnificent Obsession", Sirk called the
plot "crazy" and did not want to make it. But as a contracted director,
he had little sway with the studio heads and was persuaded, as always,
to make the movie. It should be noted that he never had a bad word to
say about Universal, even after he left Hollywood. He fully understood
the contract he had made and simply made the best of his situation. It
should also be noted that he gave Universal some of their greatest
commercial successes of the decade, and created for them a star leading
man, something they were in desperate need of. That star was Rock
Hudson. "Magnificent Obsession" was Hudson's breakthrough film. He made
eight films together with Sirk.
The magnificent obsession in question is the quest for spirituality;
not exactly high on the agenda of materialistic, picture perfect, upper
class American society of the fifties. Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) is a
shallow, womanizing, heavy drinking, spoiled playboy. The movie charts
his journey towards spirituality. He is guided on this path by an older
intellectual artist, Edward Randolph (Otto Kruger). Many critics have
noted the physical similarities between Kruger and Sirk himself. It's
almost irresistible to develop this notion. It is Randolph who despite
Merrick's crass behavior perceives a potential for greater things and
leads him towards self fulfillment.
Similarly it was Sirk who first spotted Rock Hudson's star potential.
Under his guidance and direction, Hudson would in a matter of two to
three years, become one the most popular actors in Hollywood. Having
worked closely on eight films, it would seem absurd that Sirk was not
aware of Hudson's homosexuality. This did not deter Sirk, (who himself
was not gay). Moreover it fits well with his fascination for what he
termed "split characters". It's the embodiment of fifties picture
perfect appearance shielding a very different reality that is central
to much of Sirk's work.
Edward Randolph quietly removes himself when he realises his protégé
has finally found his new self. His work is done. While Hudson was no
heavyweight in the acting stakes, under Sirk's direction he gave some
very respectable performances, "Magnificent Obsession" amongst his
best. His post Sirk career would soon take him to Doris Day territory,
a far cry from the likes of "Written on the Wind", "Tarnished Angels"
and "Battle Hymn".
All of Sirk's films are worth taking a close look at, particularly from
"Magnificent Obsession" onwards. There are a handful of directors who
so well grasped the possibilities of film making and possessed the know
how in using the many elements that make up this art form.
Tags for Magnificent Obsession Full Movie
, Alexander Campbell
, Barbara Rush
, Fred Nurney
, Gregg Palmer
, Helen Kleeb
, Jane Wyman
, John Mylong
, Judy Nugent
, Otto Kruger
, Paul Cavanagh
, Richard H. Cutting
, Rock Hudson
, Rudolph Anders
, Sara Shane
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