Douglas Sirk

Director Profile

Born: 26 April, 1900
Died: 14 January, 1987
Country of Birth: Germany

These happy endings all express the weak and sly promise that the world is not rotten and out of joint but meaningful and ultimately in excellent condition.

Biography

Douglas Sirk was born Hans Detlef Sierck to Danish parents in living in Hamburg. His father was a journalist and the younger Sierck also wrote for newspapers during his university years. But it was theatre and cinema that inspired him, having a particular fascination with Shakespeare’s histories. He began studying law at university but shifted to philosophy and art history. During this time he also worked in the theatre.

His debut as theatre director came in 1922, and this led to Sierk becoming one of Germany’s principal stage directors. In 1934 he also started making short films at the Ufa studios, and April! April! his first feature film, was released in 1935. His career as a film director, making films such a La Habanera (1937), earned him respect among the Nazi governors, especially Goebbels. But Sirk was not comfortable in Germany. His second wife, the actress Hilde Jary, was Jewish and after she left for Rome, he soon followed.

By 1941, they were in the US joining the émigré filmmaking enclave in Hollywood. Sirk’s first American film was Hitler’s Madmen (1942), and his second, Summer Storm (1944), was based on Chekhov’s The Shooting Party. Here he worked with actor George Sanders, establishing a long-term friendship, one of the few in Hollywood where he saw himself as much of an outsider and a loner.

However, Sirk did develop close working relationships with producers Ross Hunter and Albert Zugsmith, and with other collaborators like actor Rock Hudson, writer George Zuckerman and cinematographer Russell Metty. It was amongst members of this group that he directed the films that are his Hollywood legacy; a reputation based primarily on ironic melodramas like Magnificent Obsession (1953), All that Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956) and Imitation of Life (1958). But Sirk was not exclusively a director of contemporary “weepies” but also of films such as the Irish swashbuckler Captain Lightfoot (1954), the Korean war film Battle Hymn (1956), and Sirk’s personal favourite, the 3D western Taza, Son of Cochise (1953).

Sirk and Hilde abandoned Hollywood for Switzerland in 1959, due to Sirk’s failing health and uncomfortable with the excesses of a Hollywood lifestyle. At the same time his standing amongst the new autuerist critics in Europe was on the rise, with Jean-Luc Godard writing on Sirk’s 1957 film, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, in the influential journal Cahiers du Cinema. The New German CInema director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was also a fan, making trips to Sirk’s home in Lugano and convincing the retired filmmaker to teach at the Munich Film School. There Sirk made some short films with his students. He died in Lugano in January 1987.

Available to Own

All I Desire

(DVD) - RELEASE DATE: 24/07/2008

A Film by Douglas Sirk more »


Magnificent Obsession

(DVD) - RELEASE DATE: 17/06/2008

THE STORY OF A WOMAN'S NEED FOR A MAN that will become one of the great emotional thrills of your lifetime! more »


All That Heaven Allows

(DVD) - RELEASE DATE: 21/08/2008

How much does heaven allow a woman in love? The romance between Cary, a wealthy New England widow,... more »


There's Always Tomorrow

(DVD) - RELEASE DATE: 12/03/2009

Toy manufacturer Clifford Groves is well-respected and in control at the factory, but his relationship... more »


The Tarnished Angels

(DVD) - RELEASE DATE: 22/05/2008

Roger Schumann is a former WWI fighter pilot who has fallen on hard times, making his money through... more »

Filmography

1978 BOURBON STREET BLUES (short)
1977 SYLVESTERNACHT. EIN DIALOG / NEW YEAR'S EVE. A DIALOGUE (short)
1975 SPRICH ZUR MIR WIE DER REGEN / TALK TO ME LIKE THE RAIN (short)
1958 IMITATION OF LIFE
1957 A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO DIE
1957 THE TARNISHED ANGELS
1956 INTERLUDE
1956 BATTLE HYMN
1956 WRITTEN ON THE WIND
1955 THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW
1955 ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS
1954 CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT
1954 SIGN OF THE PAGAN
1953 MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION
1953 TAZA, SON OF COCHISE
1953 ALL I DESIRE
1952 TAKE ME TO TOWN
1952 MEET ME AT THE FAIR
1952 NO ROOM FOR THE GROOM
1951 HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL?
1951 WEEKEND WITH FATHER
1951 THE LADY PAYS OFF
1951 THUNDER ON THE HILL
1950 MYSTERY SUBMARINE
1950 THE FIRST LEGION
1948 SHOCKPROOF
1948 SLIGHTLY FRENCH
1947 SLEEP MY LOVE
1946 LURED (PERSONAL COLUMN)
1945 A SCANDAL IN PARIS
1944 SUMMER STORM
1942 HITLER'S MADMAN
1939 BOEFJE
1937 LA HABANERA / CHEATED BY THE WINDS
1937 ZU NEUEN UFERN / TO DISTANT SHORES
1936 DAS HOFKONZERT / THE COURT CONCERT or LA CHANSON DU SOUVENIR / SONG OF REMEMBRANCE
1936 SCHLUSSAKKORD / FINAL ACCORD
1935 STUTZEN DER GESELLSCHAFT / PILLARS OF SOCIETY
1935 DAS MADCHEN VOM MOORHOF / THE GIRL FROM MARSH CROFT
1935 'T WAS EEN APRIL / APRIL! APRIL!
1934 DREIMAL EHE / THREE TIMES LOVE (short)
1934 DER EINGEBILDETE KRANKE / THE IMAGINARY INVALID (short)
1934 ZWEI GENIES / TWO GENIUSES (short)
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