Combustible Celluloid
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With: Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Carlson, Lyle Bettger, Marcia Henderson, Lori Nelson, Maureen O'Sullivan, Richard Long, Billy Gray, Dayton Lummis, Lotte Stein, Fred Nurney
Written by: James Gunn, Robert Blees, Gina Kaus, based on a novel by Carol Ryrie Brink
Directed by: Douglas Sirk
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 80
Date: 07/03/1953

All I Desire (1953)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Class Act

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Most certainly one of Douglas Sirk's lesser movies, All I Desire lacks some of the heart-rending visual flourishes of his masterworks, but it nonetheless remains a pretty solid piece of soap. Barbara Stanwyck is perfect as Naomi Murdoch, a hard-working but only mildly successful actress who, years earlier, left her husband and children to pursue her craft. It's just after the turn of the century, and she receives her letter from her teen daughter, Lily (Lori Nelson), inviting Naomi to return home and see Lily perform in a school play. Naomi does, reluctantly, but is surprised to learn that the rest of her family had no idea she was coming. That, plus her "fame," stirs up other conflicts. Naomi intends to leave right away, but Lily conspires to keep her around, thereby forcing Naomi to re-examine all her old relationships. This includes her ex-husband, Henry (Richard Carlson). One of Naomi's old boyfriends, Dutch (Lyle Bettger), resurfaces too. Sirk achieves one or two amazing shots, mainly with characters framed up against the house from the exterior, with other characters visible through the windows. But mainly, it's his clean, full-blooded craft that allows us to view such a silly story (with an even sillier ending) and manage to take it seriously.

Kino Lorber released the movie on Blu-ray in 2020, along with Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow. It includes a very nice black-and-white 1.37:1 transfer, a commentary track by film historian Imogen Sara Smith, and trailers.

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