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When millionaire playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) is injured in a thrillseeking speedboat accident, a resuscitator belonging to local doctor Dr Phillips is used to revive him. But when Dr Phillips suddenly is taken ill, he dies because the resuscitator is not found in time. In an attempt to make amends with his widow Helen (Jane Wyman), Bob falls in love with her, but accidentally causes a second tragic accident in which she is blinded. Devastated and overcome with shame, Bob tries to make amends and to win her heart.

Review by Louise Keller:
One of the all time great Hollywood melodramas, Magnificent Obsession is one of those wonderful films that can stand repeated viewings. Both uplifting and a tear jerker, the storyline is only as powerful as the players make it and Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman are utterly compelling in the central roles. On the surface it seems that Jane Wyman's courageous Helen who loses both her beloved husband and her sight is the one who needs inspiration to keep going, but in fact it is Hudson's shallow millionaire playboy Bob Merrick whose life hangs in the balance, despite having the appearance of having everything. Compassion, love and determination are the key ingredients to this haunting tale of a man who finds his salvation in a magnificent obsession.

He doesn't have to have any brains: he's got 4 million bucks, an onlooker observes when Bob crashes his speedboat on a Californian lake. When he discharges himself from the hospital, fate throws him in the path of Wyman's Helen who is still reeling from the loss of her beloved husband on their 6 month wedding anniversary. The second tragedy when Helen loses her sight is more than Bob's conscience can bear, apart from which he has already fallen head over heels in love with her. All the performances are memorable: Barbara Rush as Helen's caring stepdaughter Joyce and Agnes Moorhead as the devoted nurse and family friend Nancy. It is Otto Kruger's artist Edward Randolph who plants the seed of hope into Bob's mind, when he reveals a philosophy which shows a way for Bob to fulfil his destiny.

Bob then begins to find a way of being of genuine service to people without any expectation of being repaid, and opens himself up to a new life. The joys of finding out what happens to Bob and Helen is something best to experience by watching the film but there are surprises, deceptions and a trip to Switzerland with a car filled with lilacs, dancing and fireworks. Of course the main fireworks are the emotional heart of the film which does not disappoint.

Presented as a two-disc edition, the release includes an audio commentary by Dr Mark Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Cinema at the University of Melbourne plus the complete 1935 version of the film starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor and directed by John M. Stahl. The screenplay begins differently but the main storyline is the same and remains true to its book origins.

Published June 19, 2008

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(US, 1954)

CAST: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Agnes Moorehead, Otto Kruger, Gregg Palmer, Sara Shane

PRODUCER: Ross Hunter

DIRECTOR: Douglas Sirk

SCRIPT: Robert Blees (novel by Lloyd C. Douglas)


EDITOR: Milton Carruth

MUSIC: Frank Skinner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bernard Herzbrun, Emrich Nicholson

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 discs: feature commentary by Dr Mark Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Cinema at University of Melbourne; The original 1935 version starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor; trailer


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