Sunday, November 25, 1990

Haunted Memories

Rare Films by Sirk & Ulmer - Douglas Sirk's All I Desire and Edgar Ulmer's Strange Illusion

San Francisco Art Institute

Post-war Hollywood produced a stream of darkly introverted melodramas which called into question traditional American values and family life. In these low-budget films by two German expatriot masters of visual narrative, a forbidding presence beneath the surface of life’s ordinary details invades the placid world of small-town inhabitants. Sirk’s All I Desire (1953) features Barbara Stanwyck as an aging actress who returns to her home town and the family she abandoned. Subtly detailed with expressive camerawork and lighting, it is one of the finest examples of the director’s mature American style. Strange Illusion (1945) is Ulmer’s expressionistic tour-de-force, a vulgarized re-telling of Hamlet replete with sensational dream-sequences and a brooding, roving camera.

pictured: All I Desire (1953) by Douglas Sirk