The reason I ended up catching this on TCM last night is purely because of its amazing technicolor opening credits with huge diamonds raining onto the screen with Nat King Cole playing in the background. It just looked so great that I actually changed all other plans and sat down to watch it. To be completely honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure I’d like it all that much. Lana Turner’s whole “I want to be a star” thing sounded all too familiar and when she ends up at Alan Loomis’s office, I thought I knew exactly where this movie was going. Really, it was just the pretty colors and the completely awesome framing of the shots that kept me from losing interest.
But then the movie starts becoming totally awesome. The girls grow up and suddenly they are Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner respectively, both of whom are totally incredible, especially Susan Kohner! Seriously, not only is she unbelievably sexy but her character, Sarah Jane, just made the movie so much more interesting to me.
This movie is just a lot of fun to watch even as just a Hollywood melodrama that looks fabulous and has a great cast. And I’m probably really late to this party but it has so much going on underneath the surface that it went beyond that and made the experience even more memorable. For one thing, the movie never questions or tries to explain why these two women are single mothers. It assumes that these things are not specific to a particular class or race. All the race stuff is so front and center and yet felt so neutral. When Sarah Jane’s boyfriend finds out she is white, he doesn’t just break up with her. He beats her up! The movie never felt like we were supposed to criticize Sarah Jane for wanting to reject her black heritage. Annie always remains a domestic servant in the household, no matter how much she is loved. Similarly, Lora’s choices are treated with the same sense of neutrality. Sirk always seems to be respectful of Lora’s ambitions and instead of giving her a tragic ending where her quest for success leaves her desperate and lonely at the end, the movie actually gives her the chance to have both which I thought was really cool. Another really cool moment is when Annie is lying in bed sick and Lora has just heard about why Susie is being so distant with her and Lora declares to Annie that this is a “real problem” as if Annie’s own issues with her offspring are superficial / trivial. I am sure there’s a lot more to this movie that I am not remembering right now. Plus, this movie just has the most amazing scenes with mirrors. I really want to see this on the big screen sometime too.