Sleep, My Love

Claudette Colbert, shocked

The 1948 thriller Sleep, My Love has a Chandler-esque title reminiscent of Farewell, My Lovely, and opens in strong Freudian style with a train in the night screaming towards the camera. It’s a solid piece of work directed by Douglas Sirk with style and pace but he can’t do much with Leo Rosten’s too-familiar story. Also screaming is wealthy New Yorker Alison Courtland (Claudette Colbert), who wakes up on a train bound for Boston with no idea how she got there. In her bag is her husband’s gun. He (Don Ameche), meanwhile, is back in New York nursing a bullet wound and filling in Detective Strake (Raymond Burr) on details about his missing … Read more


George Sanders and Lucille Ball

The 1947 noirish thriller Lured stars Lucille Ball and is directed by Douglas Sirk, neither of them names you’d associate with this sort of thing. Ball was a comic actor, Sirk is now chiefly remembered for big, overheated and florid dramas like All That Heaven Allows, but both show their breadth of talent in this relatively low-budget production shiny with quality. It looks at first like a serial killer thriller, and a particularly modern one – seven women dead, each of whose murders has been accompanied by a poem sent to the police, a Seven-style taunt. The police, meanwhile, though led by crusty oldster Inspector Harley Temple (Charles Coburn) are bringing all the … Read more

The Curious Return of Douglas Sirk

All That Heaven Allows original poster

What is it about a film-maker who died around 25 years ago in obscurity that fascinates a new generation of directors? The director Douglas Sirk died in 1987 aged 90. Born in Hamburg as Detlef Sierck, he became well known for his string of lush melodramas made in Hollywood in the 1950s. Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Tarnished Angels (1957), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) and Imitation of Life (1959) are considered his key works. The French “auteurists” were the first to start the re-assessment of Sirk in the late 1950s – the distinctive look of his films marking them out as … Read more