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Rock Hudson became a star when he courted Jane Wyman incognito in this hit romance. He starts the film as a feckless playboy, but when his carelessness inadvertently costs Wyman her husband and her vision, he turns his life around by studying medicine in the hopes of someday atoning for his behavior, while also secretly helping Wyman adjust to her blindness. Lutheran pastor Lloyd C. Douglas’ inspirational novel had worked the same magic for Robert Taylor, who starred opposite Irene Dunne in the 1935 screen version. Hudson wasn’t the only person to benefit from this role. The picture’s success made Ross Hunter Universal Pictures’ top producer of romantic melodramas. He and director Douglas Sirk, a refugee from Hitler’s rise to power in 1930s Germany, became an unbeatable team, following the film with such hits as All That Heaven Allows (1955), also starring Hudson and Wyman, and Imitation of Life (1959). Audiences took the spiritual, romantic themes of the film very seriously in 1954. Nevertheless, more recent critics and audiences have viewed the film as a high camp satire of 1950s middle-class life, praising Sirk’s depiction of period fashion and décor as symbols of stifling social restrictions from which the characters can only escape by indulging their innermost passions. (d. Douglas Sirk, 108m, DCP)

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