Douglas Sirk

26.04.1900, Hamburg, Germany - 14.01.1987, Lugano, Switzerland


Sirk is a famous director of Hollywood films from the 1950s who began his career in Germany as a theatre director. After WW I, in 1919, he studied law in Munich but later transferred to the Hamburg University where he took up philosophy and art history. At the same time he worked as a journalist and started to direct in theatre. Between 1922 and 1937, he directed many plays and became a renowned theatre director. In 1934, he was hired by UFA and started directing short films; soon he directed his first feature film 'twas een april (Dutch version) i.e. April, April! (German version). Even though he had much success in Germany with his later UFA produced films, because of the emergence of Nazism, he left the country in 1937 with his Jewish wife Hilde Jary. He spent some time in France and the Netherlands, but soon accepted an invitation to come to the USA to direct the remake of his successful film Zu neuen Ufern (1937). Nevertheless, the first film he directed in Hollywood was Hitler's Madman (1943). In his early phase in the US, he also directed the thriller Lured (1947) and Sleep, My Love (1948). He made his most famous films for the Universal International Pictures Studio between 1951 and his retirement in 1959. Those include the melodrama Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind, (1956), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), The Tarnished Angels (1958) and Imitation of Life (1959), which was at the time Universal’s most commercially successful film - and Sirk’s last film. He then left the US, stopped directing and returned to Europe where he lived in Switzerland until he died in 1987. During his later American phase, his films were commercially successful but not well accepted by film critics. In the 1960s, thanks to Jean-Luc Godard and the magazine Cahiers du cinéma, his work was critically revalorized, mostly due to the long interview that Jon Halliday did with Sirk in 1971. From then on, besides his visual style, the ironical and socially critical aspects of his Hollywood films became better understood and esteemed.


Films by this director

All That Heaven Allows


Directed by: Douglas Sirk
PHOTOGRAPHY: Russell Metty

Cary Scott, a wealthy widow with two grown-up children falls in love with a gardener, Ron Kirby. He is younger, does not care about social norms and lives freely. He is truly in love with Cary and wants them to get married, but Cary is worried about her children’s opinion and the snobbish society she is a part of. Will she chose love or remain bound by stiff social norms?

digital, color, 89 min

Written on the Wind


Directed by: Douglas Sirk
PHOTOGRAPHY: Russell Metty

Kyle Hadley and Mitch Wayne have been best friends since childhood. Kyle is the son of an oil tycoon who spends his time drinking and having fun. Mitch is from a poorer family, but because of his diligence he is raised to the position of a geologist in Kyle’s father’s company. Both of them fall in love with Lucy, but Kyle manages to win her over and marries her before Mitch gets the chance to reveal his feelings to her. Meanwhile Kyle’s sister Marylee is obsessed with Mitch…

digital, color, 99 min
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