This outspoken drama probes rather startlingly into the morals and passions of an uppercrust Texas oil family. Intelligent use of the flashback technique before and during the titles credits runoff builds immediate interest and expectancy without diminishing plot punch. Tiptop scripting from the Robert Wilder novel, dramatically deft direction by Douglas Sirk and sock performances by the cast give the story development a follow-through.
Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, aptly cast in the star roles, add a zing to the characters that pays off in audience interest. Hudson scores as the normal, lifelong friend of profligate Stack. The latter, in one of his best performances, draws a compelling portrait of a psychotic man ruined by wealth and character weaknesses.
Bacall registers strongly as a sensible girl swept into the madness of the oil family when she marries Stack, while Malone hits a career high as the completely immoral sister.
1956: Best Supp. Actress (Dorothy Malone).
Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (Robert Stack), Song (‘Written on the Wind’)