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Sirk and the Figure of the Actress: All I Desire.

From the earliest days of the cinema, the figure of the actress has been one that has intrigued scriptwriters, directors, and performers alike. In part, this fascination derives from artists' self-reflexive pleasure in crafting works about the creative scene. Moreover, the subject of the actress has, traditionally, facilitated a study of the theatrical nature of existence, the "imitation of life," as it were. Finally, a focus on the female performer expedites the exploration of the status of woman in culture. For, as Molly Haskell notes (with rampant irony): "The actress merely extends the role-playing dimension of woman, emphasizing what she already is" (243). Among the canonical films that address this topic are such works as: Dangerous (1935), Dance Girl Dance (1940), The Velvet Touch (1948), All About Eve (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Inside Daisy Clover (1965), The Star (1952), Torch Song (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), The Goddess (1958), The Girls (1969), Lumiere (1976), Veronika Voss (1982), Frances (1982), Postcards from the Edge (1990), High Heels (1991), and, of course, imitation of Life (1959). It is within this cinematic "sorority" (or subgenre melodramatic) that Douglas Sirk's All I Desire (1953) resides. He, himself, deemed the film a "pre-study of the actress in Imitation of Life" (Halliday, 89). Clearly, Sirk's "magnificent obsession" with the actress is tied to his impulse toward social critique. While, ordinarily (within the conventions of domestic melodrama), one can only hint at the duplicitous aspects of everyday life, a focus on the actress allows this issue to rise to the surface.

All I Desire takes place at the turn-of-the-century and concerns Naomi Murdoch (Barbara Stanwyck), who has deserted her husband and three children some ten years back to seek a life on the stage. The film begins when she (now a vaudeville performer), receives a letter from her teen-age daughter asking her to return to Riverdale, Wisconsin to attend a school play in which the adolescent appears. Like her Biblical namesake, Naomi goes back home and confronts the complex legacy of her past.(1)

Given that the drama is set in the late Edwardian era, it is tempting to consider two short films of the period that deploy the character of the actress. Since Naomi skirts the edges of the burlesque world, we might examine a film set in that milieu--one that depicts a showgirl performing a strip tease--the most transgressive number for a woman to enact. From Showgirl to Burlesque Queen (1903), a "blue movie" of the period, presents a fully-dressed woman disrobing before the camera. While she begins to undress in full view, she soon moves behind a screen, where she discards her chemise. She then extends her arm intermittently (in a teasing manner) to grab pieces of clothing. She finally emerges in a soubrette outfit comprised of spangled blouse and shorts. Clearly (from a Victorian perspective), this film imagines female theatricality as entirely sexual--as poised on a slippery slope between stage and burlesque.

She Would Be an Actress (made in 1909 by the Sigmund Lubin Company of Philadelphia) depicts an actress of a more respectable kind (like Naomi, a music-hall performer), whose career choice disrupts her connubial universe. It portrays a married woman who leaves home to perform in a saloon against her husband's protestations. He, however, follows her there and, impersonating a waiter, surprises her, and forces her to return home. Several aspects of this film help to illuminate All I Desire. First of all, female acting is associated with excess, as is evident from the film's initial shot, which depicts the heroine declaiming and gesticulating as she reads a theater manual. Secondly, the actress is seen as an enemy of marriage, and as an emasculator of men. Before she runs away, her husband wears an apron and serves her dinner and, in order to succeed, she abandons her domestic responsibilities. Finally, acting is equated with female exhibitionism. Hence, we see her dancing shamelessly on the street and flirting with a theater patron. At the end of the narrative, her surplus is contained: with her husband looking on, she contritely shakes her head to indicate that she will forego her artistic pursuits.

While numerous decades separate these two turn-of-the-century films from All I Desire, similar attitudes toward the actress circulate in the later work. Sirk takes pains to represent Naomi's theatrical domain as both failed and sordid. In the opening scene (which occurs backstage at a tawdry theater), her voice-over narration describes herself as "not quite at the bottom of the bill and not quite at the end of [her] rope but ... not making much of an impression on audiences." Later, she refers to the theater world as a "jungle" and admits that she has "no glory, no glamour and bruises on [her] illusions." Throughout the film, her employment in vaudeville is contrasted to her dashed hopes for work on the legitimate stage--where she might have performed Shakespeare. To some degree, Naomi's position stands in contrast to that of Lora Meredith in Imitation of Life who transcends the shallow world of television commercials to achieve accolades on Broadway and in the cinema. While Lora has much to sacrifice in being re-domesticated (given her professional success), Naomi has little to lose in returning to the fold. When she does, she encounters a woman there, Sara Harper (Maureen O'Sullivan), who has made the socially "appropriate" use of her theatrical skills--becoming Riverdale's high-school drama coach. To make the women's symmetry even clearer, Sara has fallen in love with Naomi's estranged husband, Henry (Richard Carlson), the school principal.

Like Imitation of Life, All I Desire also pits a woman's acting vocation against motherhood, but does so in a rather complex fashion. While Lora Meredith has only one daughter who is highly critical of her workaholism, Naomi has two--and each takes the opposite stance. Lily (Lori Nelson), the one who ushers her home, entirely admires her electrifying mother (even after her parent's shocking ten-year absence), and wishes to be an actress herself. She tells her family that her mother was "smart" to leave town and declares herself "just like her." The elder child, Joyce (Marcia Henderson), however, is completely judgmental of her parent and, when Naomi returns, shouts: "We aren't your family and you're not our mother." In scripting Lily as an attractive child who mirrors her mother's nature and pardons her trespasses, Sirk gives more credibility to Naomi's strength and creativity than to that of Lora Meredith. While in Imitation of Life, Sara Jane (almost a second daughter) admires and duplicates Lora's theatricality, she is so problematic a figure that her favor hardly validates Lora's calling.

In All I Desire, however, Sirk advances an admiration for Naomi even further. During the course of the narrative, Joyce is influenced by her mother, albeit against her will. When Naomi arrives, Joyce is a rather prim, authoritarian, and subdued individual--having taken on the vacant maternal position within the family at an early age. In the course of the drama, Joyce confronts not only her dislike, but her jealousy of her mother (especially when her fiance, Russ [Richard Long], is bedazzled by her parent). Naomi accuses Joyce of cowardice and urges her to compete--a confrontation which sparks and liberates her daughter's sexual energy.(2)

In a similar fashion, Sirk allows for a certain triumph in Naomi's resuscitation of her marriage. While it is true that the close of the narrative finds her back home, with her theatrical career in shambles, Henry is not completely victorious. Rather, he admits that he has been at fault as well--for having been spineless and conformist, and for having lived a "dull routine." He literally asks for her forgiveness (despite her acts of adultery and abandonment) and promises to be a husband who "has faith in his wife, believes her, loves her." His contrition is all the more impressive given that, in an attempt to reject her ex-lover, Dutch Heinemann (Lyle Beltzer), Naomi has accidentally shot him and created scandal anew. Hence, rather than returning home against her will (as does the entertainer in She Would Be An Actress), Naomi has reappeared on her own steam, and on her own terms. Rather than be charged with castrating a man, her husband takes blame for his own meekness and seems ready to change.

Clearly, an examination of All I Desire also extends our sense of Sirk's satirical vision of American life, though here it is served "straight up," devoid of camp. What this means is that there is no need for the audience to decode the secret message of excessive moments, or to read conservative themes "against the grain." Rather, the critique is located in the concrete details of the drama.

Set in the mid-West (the original name for the town in Carol Brink's novel was Placid Lake), the film mocks small town existence. When Naomi first reminisces about Riverdale with an actress friend, she sighs with exasperation, "What a burgh!"--reminding us of Bette Davis's line "What a dump!" in Beyond the Forest (1949). When Naomi arrives in town, she is the subject of surveillance by the lascivious townsman, Clem. When it is rumored that she will appear at her daughter's play, the event is suddenly sold out. When she finally enters the hall, there is silence and gaping. When she brings Dutch to the hospital, after having mistakenly shot him, a physician points out the window to the citizens below. He calls them "maggots" and decries their fascination with "the oldest and the nastiest story in the world." The petrification of the community seems encapsulated in the vision of the family name, "Murdoch," chiseled into the cement of their street curb--an indication that they will remain there in perpetuity. More ominously, the lettering resembles that on a granite gravestone. All the more reason for the audience to sympathize when Lily (identifying with her rebellious mother) shouts to her relatives: "You're not gonna bury me in this provincial burgh!" As though to symbolize this fate, in the room of Naomi's son, Ted (Billy Gray), there hangs a collection of dead butterflies mounted under glass. Though at the opening of the film (when her career is on the skids), Naomi's narration reveals that she has "not much to look forward to," it is clear that in Riverdale she never did. Sirk himself calls the milieu an instance of "rotten, decrepit, middle-class" America (Halliday, 89).

As well as death, Riverdale is associated with inhibition. When Naomi returns home and upsets Henry, he confesses that he has not shouted at anyone since she has gone. While she reminds him that they once had "fun," he grimly recalls that they have "paid a heavy price" for such enjoyment. Just when they finally kiss, gun shots ring out on the street--a secret signal from Dutch that he desires to meet Naomi. The explosions function like the phone ringing in Imitation of Life, which stops Lora and her lover dead in their tracks every time they are about to embrace.(3) Though the locale of All I Desire is one of wholesome Americana, the evil or lower class figures all have foreign names (like Dutch Heinemann) and often exaggerated accents (like the servants Lena Marie Engstrom [Lotte Stein] and Hans Petersen [Fred Nurney].) As in Imitation of Life, it is a marginalized figure--a maid--who nurtures the theatrical heroine. While in the later work, the role is inhabited by the black servant, Annie, in All I Desire it is filled by the Swedish Lena--an overweight, maternal figure who occupies the position of the domestic, asexual Other (in other words, a Scandinavian Mammy).(4)

Beyond its surface portrayal of woman, All I Desire holds theoretical and formal interest. In Imitation of Life, it is obvious how the character of Lora Meredith comments upon the status of the performer, Lana Turner.(5) Especially noteworthy are the parallels between Lora's struggles with her daughter Susie and Lana's problems with her child, Cheryl Crane. To some degree such self-reference also marks All I Desire, attaching equally to Stanwyck's private life and professional existence. Thus All I Desire can be profitably compared to Stella Dallas (1937), the maternal melodrama for which Stanwyck is best known. As the actress once stated (in commenting on All I Desire): "It's the type of part I've had many times--a bad woman trying to make up for past mistakes" (Smith, 241).

In particular, All I Desire reminds one of the Vidor film in the heroine's refusal to renounce sexuality for parenthood (to be nothing else "besides a mother") and in her banishment from the domestic scene. In the opening of All I Desire, as Naomi stands on the porch and peers through the door and windows of her old home (to glimpse her family at the dinner table), we recall the end of Stella Dallas, when the protagonist watches her daughter's wedding through a window. As a contemporary reviewer of All I Desire aptly noted: "A mother symbol in America is a mighty potent fixture, and Barbara Stanwyck is its prophet" ("All I Desire Bows ..."). Like Lily in All I Desire, Stella's daughter wishes that her mother would attend the event. Significantly, the scene of Naomi's return home is one of the most melodramatic in All I Desire (despite its occurrence early in the narrative). A Variety review called the film a "full blown period tear-jerker" and a "79-minute excursion into sentimentality."

While certain scenes in All I Desire hark back to Stanwyck's prior screen roles, other moments more directly engage her status as a star. In the opening of the film, for example, there is a contrast established between the actress Barbara Stanwyck and her fictional counterpart, Naomi Murdoch. In the credits, the words "Barbara Stanwyck" appear even before the film's title, which is eventually superimposed over her name--an emblem of her celebrity power. After an establishing shot of the exterior of the Bijou Theater, we cut to a close-up of a poster for a vaudeville program with Naomi Murdoch advertised as "direct from Broadway." It is then that Stanwyck's voice-over narration starts and that the drama truly begins. Clearly, Murdoch is a long way from Stanwyck--as far as the Bijou Theater is from the Great White Way. However, when in the next scene a friend suggests that Naomi return to the legitimate stage "where you don't have to worry about getting old," we realize that Stanwyck (then forty-six), is living on borrowed time as a female box-office draw. As Michael Walker points out, she was by this time not prestigious enough a lead for Universal to shoot the film in color (32). Stanwyck shares other biographical features with Naomi as well. Orphaned at four years of age, Stanwyck led a working class existence before becoming a chorus girl with the Ziegfield Follies at the age of fifteen. By the mid-1920s, she had made it to legitimate theater.

Another self-referential scene in the film depicts Naomi observing Lily on stage. As the camera tracks in to a close-up of Stanwyck in the audience, her voice-over is heard to muse, "It was just an amateurish high school play until Lily came on." Naomi is thrilled to think that her daughter "could develop into an actress." Here, we have a vision of a fictional performer (played by a Hollywood actress) confronting a drama within the narrative.

It is significant that this scene involves a use of the voice-over trope (as does the opening of the film). For both occur at moments when theatricality is highlighted. While in the first example, Naomi's voice is temporarily disembodied (with her name on the theater poster standing in for her corporeal presence), here she is fully visible. There is also an inconsistency in tense between these two sequences that makes the film's point-of-view enigmatic. In the first instance (when Naomi introduces herself), she speaks in the present tense. At Lily's play, however, she uses the past tense, as though the narrative were now recalled from a later time period. This temporal slippage seems dramatized in Lily's prank, at the post-production party, of setting the clock back to make her mother miss her train. Perhaps, both stylistic tropes imply that, in returning to Riverdale, Naomi has personally regressed, has gone "back to the future," as it were. But they may also signify that social clocks are being retarded in the film--with the working woman being urged to return to hearth and home. The temporal conundrum of Naomi's narration also supports the notion of the female voice-over as marking a textual "crisis." As feminist critics have noted, such voice-overs cannot be sustained; here, as in other classical films, Naomi's narration suddenly terminates.(6)

As the film's title would indicate, it is also a consummate treatise on the intricacies of desire. By the phrase "All I desire," we might mean "I desire all," signifying that my desire is endless and voracious. On the other hand, the words might signify that something is "all I desire," indicating that my wishes are properly limited. It is the tension between, and incompatibility of, these two poles (as registered in linguistic ambiguity) that animates the film. In one scene between Naomi and Sara, Naomi tells the teacher that she is the woman that Henry "needs." Sara corrects her by noting that she is the woman that Henry "wants." By the end of the drama, Naomi has bounded her desires (without having utterly resigned them). As she tells Henry, "We all want things we don't have." Significantly, the original title of the film was to be Stopover, the name of the novel upon which it is based. In the literary narrative, Naomi leaves her home town once again at the end, her visit being only a temporary stay. This is the conclusion that Sirk himself desired but was forced to renounce in the name of a more upbeat denouement. Clearly, the threat of that ending was its affirmation of Naomi's unseemly ambition and her rejection or a lifestyle endorsed by the American public.

But there is a more subterranean desire that inflects the film--that of daughter and mother. Lily's passion for her parent is so unlikely and intense that it seems to surpass normal filial devotion. Despite her mother's having deserted her, she calls her "heavenly" and concocts a scheme to run off with her to New York: "I always wanted to be with you, always." Even after Naomi has shot her ex-lover, Lily is unperturbed: "Now," she says, "Mother will be even more famous!"--as though the specter of a homicidal parent had excited her. When the affection between her parents is rekindled and Naomi decides to stay in Riverdale, Lily is furious at her and jealous of her father. "You let him keep us both in this old town," she screams, "just `cause he's stuffy and old-fashioned himself!"

There seems an equal passion of mother for child. As Naomi watches Lily perform on stage, she thinks: "For me, there was only Lily. It was almost magical. I couldn't take my eyes from her." Significantly, we have just heard a line in the school play in which a male character confesses his obsession with looking at Baroness Barclay (played by Lily). Furthermore, the musical theme we hear when Naomi gazes toward the stage (and which recurs periodically throughout the text) is a classical motif previously used in Max Ophuls's Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948)--a canonical melodrama of the 1940s. In that film, too, the melody swells at moments when the heroine, Lisa Berndle (Joan Fontaine) observes someone performing (as does Naomi in All I Desire). In particular, it attaches to the instances when Lisa hears her lover, Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan) play the piano--initially from her courtyard, and, then, from her apartment window. The lyrical connection made across the two films cements (for the knowledgeable viewer) the subversive association of maternal and romantic passion.

There are other connections to Letter From An Unknown Woman that prove intriguing. In some respects Naomi is an "unknown woman" to all her children, but especially to her son, Ted, who, Henry tells us, was too young, when she left, to remember her. The narrative of Letter From An Unknown Woman hinges upon the illegitimate son that Lisa bears by Stefan Brand. While in All I Desire there is no overt mention of Ted's possible illegitimacy, Michael Walker has asserted that the narrative suggests that Ted is the son of Naomi's ex-lover, Dutch, and not Henry.

Moreover, All I Desire can be read as opening with a "letter from an unknown woman"--that is, a note from Naomi's long-lost daughter, Lily. Some might argue that Lily remains "unknown;" with the narrative's end, her hopes for leaving Riverdale are quashed when her mother renounces a theatrical career and resumes her marital existence. The film leaves Lily hanging and her future vague. As Walker puts it: "Lily is virtually forgotten" (as is Lisa in the Ophuls film [41]).

My use of the term "hanging" is not accidental. In the scene in which Naomi first returns to her home, she finds that the house key is still kept in a hanging planter on the front porch. At the end, when she tries to leave, she places the key back in the same flower pot. Walker reads the primacy of this prop in psychoanalytic terms. As he notes:
 The key would seem to be a significant symbol here ... [A]t the very end,
 Henry takes the key and gives it to Naomi. This clarifies the meaning of
 the key in the dominant discourse: it was waiting for her and there is no
 longer any need for it to hang outside. Equally, we can see that
 symbolically the key is Henry's phallus, waiting, unused, for Naomi's
 return (46).


While Walker's interpretation is plausible, I prefer to read the action in another way--one that emphasizes surface iconography instead of depth psychology (sometimes a key is only a key). Though the end of the story is relatively upbeat, it is qualified in its celebratory tone. It is "an unhappy happy ending," as Sirk once deemed it (quoted in Walker, 37). Though we are to believe that Naomi has re-entered a loving home, she has also sacrificed her liberty--become a "potted plant," as it were, instead of one that flourishes wild. Interestingly, in the beginning of the novel, Stopover, as Naomi boards a train, much is made of her dislike of domesticated flowers. As the author writes:
 One of her friends had thrust the violets into her hands when she was
 leaving Chicago; and although she should have discarded them some time ago,
 she still made periodic journeys to the water cooler to wet the
 handkerchief and give them every opportunity for survival. People were
 always giving Naomi flowers; and while she liked to see flowers growing,
 the cut ones were an embarrassment to her ... Perhaps because she was so
 enamored of life, she had a superstitious feeling about death, even for a
 flower (2-3).


Significantly, the child who most resembles Naomi and who values freedom equally, is named Lily (a bloom associated both with life and death). At the drama's close, the fate of both women is left "hanging," since each may end up discontented and metaphorically "pot bound." As Sirk himself noted when asked to predict Naomi's future:
 What will happen to her? Maybe, maybe a flicker of the old love. But it is
 impossible. Pretty soon she'll become one of those housewives, inviting the
 academic crowd in for tea and cake. She'll be lost. She'll disappear
 (Stern, 90).


In other words, she will become an "unknown woman"--to her self, to her vagabond existence, and to her admiring daughter.

Sirk's quote reminds us that women, in narrative, often "disappear" in more literal ways. While Naomi takes the train from Chicago to Riverdale, she is not unlike Rosa Moline in Beyond the Forest--a perverse married woman (played by Bette Davis) who flees her small town (after aborting her pregnancy) and winds up dead on the tracks that lead to Chicago.

While Naomi remains home at the end of All I Desire, in her lifelong revolt she is also reminiscent of Ibsen's Nora, a woman who finally leaves. Nora's words of departure to her husband, Torvald, might have been uttered by Naomi some ten years before All I Desire begins: "I must stand on my own feet if I am to find out the troth about myself and about life. So I can't go on living here with you any longer" (97). Nora even pointedly returns a key to Torvald--an object that figures prominently in All I Desire.

We recall that in the final scene of All I Desire Naomi stands on the porch of her house, the vantage point from which she first viewed her estranged family through a doorway. The door frame had transformed the interior scene into a picture or, perhaps, a stage tableau. That early scene also foreshadowed the later sequence of Naomi regarding Lily perform on stage, again highlighting the ironic parallels between the familial and theatrical realms. Clearly the play-within-a-play references the world beyond the proscenium arch. Like Naomi, the Baroness Barclay (Lily's dramatis persona) is a fascinating woman, one who (like Naomi) pays the "penalty" for illicit yearnings. The fluid border between theater and reality is also foregrounded when Lily declares that her mother has made "a dramatic entrance" into town. And when Lily brings her mother breakfast in bed, Naomi jokes that she is getting "real star treatment."

Clearly, Brink's novel emphasizes this sense of an "imitation of life." On the night of Lily's graduation, an encounter between mother and daughter is described in highly dramatic terms:
 Lily closed the door behind her and stood against it. Her eyes blazed; the
 color came and went in her face. She was alive with vigor and beauty and a
 swift, sure anger. Automatically Naomi began to play their scene, "Darling,
 you're lovely! My baby girl, so lovely! And tonight you graduate." But Lily
 did not fall into the usual patter of lines, "Angel! You're lovely toot My
 own, my little mama!" The blaze and glitter in her eyes was hard, and Naomi
 saw that Lily was no longer playing a scene but was in deadly earnest
 (130).


In the film version, there is a privileged moment in this discourse of theatricality--when Naomi gives a reading of a Browning poem at Lily's post-production party. As Naomi intones, "How do I love thee?", she stares moistly at Henry, and dims the lights for aesthetic effect, making us wonder if the real question is "Do I love thee?" Here the prodigal actress plays the loving wife on the set of her own home. With this ironic move, Sirk fulfills Naomi's goal to play "legitimate" theater, offering her validation of a societal versus artistic kind.

While the film ends with this compromise, the novel takes a more radical turn. At one point in the film (after Naomi's oration of the Browning poem), Sara asks her to read from Shakespeare at the upcoming high school graduation ceremony. We immediately begin to wonder what her selection might be, fearing The Taming of the Shrew. By the end of the movie, however, that possibility is foreclosed, since the graduation ceremony is never depicted. Thus, Sara's remarks just hang there--like some porch plant--reminding us of a signifying absence. Clearly, the scene's elision stands as a marker of Sirk's original conception of a denouement, one more consonant with Brink's striking ending.

For in her novel, a shocking scene unfolds when Naomi takes the stage at the high school graduation--just moments before she leaves town forever:
 She saw them all plainly and acutely, as one never sees an audience when
 footlights intervene ... Naomi let the ripple of applause recede and fade
 away.... "I've been asked to give you a reading from Shakespeare," she said
 dangerously in a gentle voice, "and I could do it, too, although I'm not a
 Shakespeare scholar ... No, I'm really not a scholar," she repeated as her
 clear pale neck and bosom emerged in a white "V" between the falling
 barriers of the unhooked bodice. "I'm just a girl who likes a jolly time
 ... " They all sat frozen, gazing at her with their mouths half open, as
 she let the black blouse fall, negligently, sensuously, with a slothful and
 insidious purpose (237-8).


Hence, the novel's heroine terminates her stay with an ironic strip tease--a number that harks back to the primitive cinema and to the least "legitimate" pole of the actress continuum. (Significantly, it also forecasts the role of Sara Jane in Imitation of Life, who performs in a sleazy night club). What Brink accomplishes (and what Sirk must forego) is not only the stripping of Naomi's body, but the paring away of constraints that society puts upon her as virtuous wife and mother.

For us, however, such a scene remains a "tease"--as the tethers were not removed from Sirk's directorial hand. If Brink's heroine moves "from showgirl to burlesque queen," Sirk's protagonist slides "from showgirl to bourgeois queen." At one point in the drama, when Sara asks Naomi to continue her poetic oration, Naomi replies "I'm a great believer in `leave them asking for more.'" At the end of the drama, however, it is not only the audience, but she who desires more, as her "stopover" becomes a "makeover" and her masquerade a permanent "imitation of life."

Notes

(1) According to The New Jewish Encyclopedia Naomi (in The Book of Ruth) returns from Moab to her native Bethlehem after the death of her husband and two sons (337).

(2) As Michael Walker notes, "Naomi's challenge has already started to transform [Joyce], releasing her suppressed sensuality and taste for excitement" (39).

(3) Walker talks of the motif of the "interrupted kiss" in Sirk's work and points out how Naomi's arrival by train interrupts some affectionate play between Henry and Sara in the school office. Specifically, the train whistle is heard in the background (43).

(4) Walker remarks on the parallel between Annie and Lena, as well.

(5) See the introduction to my own book Imitation of Life, 3-28.

(6) See the work of Sarah Kozloff, Kaja Silverman, and Amy Lawrence concerning the use of the female voice (and voice-over) in the cinema.

Works Cited

"All I Desire." Variety, 24 June 1953.

"All I Desire Bows at the Palace." New York Times, 29 August 1953, 10.

Bridger, Davis with Samuel Wolk, 2. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Behrman House, 1976.

Brink, Carol. Stopover. New York: Macmillan, 1951.

Fischer, Lucy, ed. Imitation of Life. New Brunswick: Rutgers, 1991.

Halliday, John. Sirk on Sirk. New York: Viking, 1972.

Haskell, Molly. From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1974.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy Of The People, Rosmersholm. Trans. Michael Meyer: Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966.

Kozloff, Sarah. Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film. Berkeley: of California, 1988.

Lawrence, Amy. Echo and Narcissus: Women's Voices in Classical Hollywood Cinema Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1991.

Silverman, Kaja. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1988.

Smith, Ella. Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck. New York: Crown, 1974.

Stern, Michael. Douglas Sirk. Boston: Twayne, 1979.

Walker, Michael. "All I Desire (1952)." Movie 33-4 (1990): 31-47.

Lucy Fischer is Professor of Film Studies and English at the University of Pittsburgh, where she directs the Film Studies Program. She is the author of five books on cinema, including Cinematernity: Film, Genre, Motherhood (1996), Sunrise (1998), Imitation Of Life (1991), and Shot/ Countershot: Film Tradition and Women's Cinema (1989). She is currently working on a book on Art Deco and cinema.
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Title Annotation:Douglas Sirk
Author:Fischer, Lucy
Publication:Film Criticism
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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