Extra Credit

Written On The Wind Scene

For this particular analysis, I have chosen to use a clip from the melodramatic film Written On The Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk and released in 1956. This film was revolutionary during its time because it was released in a time when Hollywood was just starting to use color in its films, and the colors in this specific film are rather vibrant compared to other films released prior. In addition, the sound technology had also recently improved when this film was released, so it’s quality was really exceeding that of films released a few years prior. Douglas Sirk’s films usually fell in the melodrama genre, and this one is no different. Although at the time, many films were being made independently and not in studios, this particular film was made in a studio. In 1950, Douglas Sirk signed a contract with Universal Studios.

This specific scene I’ve chosen to analyze is an important one in the film because it has an underlying meaning beneath the ridiculous amount of drama involved in it. The scene begins with Marylee Hadley, daughter of Jasper Hadley and sister of Kyle Hadley, dancing in her room and playing music. Marylee is a promiscuous young lady who is always getting in trouble, or better yet, always getting someone else in trouble. At this point in the film, she had just returned home after being taken home by the cops for performing sexual acts with a man in a car who she just picked up at a gas station. She nearly gave her father a heart attack with that stunt, but obviously that didn’t phase her, as she was right back into her room smiling and dancing. When Marylee begins her dancing, her father is downstairs in his office conversing with Mitch Wayne, best friend of Kyle Hadley and object of Marylee’s desire, though her love for him is unrequited. Jasper, Marylee’s father, leaves his conversation with Mitch and begins to walk up the grand staircase towards his daughter’s bedroom. He is gripping the banister as he walks up the stairs, and the banister is vibrating quite rapidly, due to the motion made my Marylee’s quick-paced dancing and the loud playing of her music. This causes Jasper to lose his grip on the banister, and being weak and old, especially weak at the moment, and he falls and tumbles down each step, and there are many! Throughout this all, Marylee is playing her music loud as ever and laughing and dancing. Meanwhile, downstairs Mitch and Lucy (sister in law to Marylee, daughter in law to Jasper, wife of Kyle, object of Mitch’s affection thus making Marylee an enemy) have discovered that Jasper is no longer breathing – the tumble down the stairs cost him his life. The way Mitch rushes over to Jasper and the look of sheer horror on Lucy’s face show that they truly care about this man, whereas his own daughter is upstairs dancing away, not knowing that she has both indirectly and directly killed her father, and Kyle Hadley is nowhere to be found because hes off getting drunk somewhere. Although it is awfully melodramatic that the vibration of the banister cause Jasper to lose his balance and slip, fall, and ultimately die – it has an underlying meaning, like I stated before. The stress his own kids bestow upon him cause him too much grief for him to go on, he simply cannot take it (as melodramatic as that may seem as well) yet his daughter-in-law and his son’s best friend are ever so caring for him and hold him down , showing that unlike Kyle and Marylee Hadley, they have good intentions and true, good hearts. This in turn proves that Lucy and Mitch should have been the ones together in the first place, just as Mitch wanted, and what Lucy probably originally wanted.

This particular scene was short and the individual shots weren’t much to analyze, but the underlying meaning was definitely something to be recognized by the viewers which is why I chose to elaborate on that instead.





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