Flashback: Imitation of Life

Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Todd Haynes made it cool to reference Douglas Sirk. But if the esteemed Andrew Sarris hadn’t championed the incisiveness of the German-born director’s dark humor inside the pages of Film Culture, there’s no telling if Sirk’s rank as one of cinema’s premiere auteurist heroes would be as steadfast as it is today. Sirk’s journey to wide critical acceptance has fascinatingly mirrored the very biting irony of his distinctly feminine melodramas.

These misunderstood masterpieces (among them All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind and Imitation of Life) were often dismissed as salient, weepy «women’s pictures» by critics (no doubt the same ones who easily embraced the more masculine melodramas of Vittorio de Sica, Nicholas Ray, and Sam Fuller) too afraid or unwilling to look beneath their complex surfaces.

Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine