I guess the expression “exception to the rule” applies to films too. Most remakes arent as good as the originals.

Having, some years ago, watched the 2 versions of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (1935 and 1954) back to back at London’s National Film Theatre, this is my exception.

Despite starring one of my favorite actresses, Irene Dunne, the John Stahl film in 1935 wasnt nearly as effective as the 50s remake by Douglas Sirk. The ‘magnificent obsession’ of the title was glossed over in the 1935 version. Robert Taylor becomes a great doctor almost overnight,even winning the Nobel prize (bringing a hoot of laughter from the audience).

Roland Young ,as the husband of Betty Furness, was totally unconvincing – he seemed to be in the wrong movie. The 50s version adapted the Lloyd C. Douglas novel better, had better music, sets and lighting. The casting, aside from Mr. Young, was good in both films though Rock Hudson didnt have quite the grace of Robert Taylor, but both conveyed the profligate playboy, Bobby Merrick, with conviction. Otto Kruger in the Sirk film brought a little more life to the mysterious ‘Randolph’ than Ralph Morgan in 1935. Agnes Moorehead and Barbara Rush were very good in the Sirk film.

Of the two leading ladies, I cannot fault either Irene Dunne or Jane Wyman.  Both are impressive.

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