11 November 2017 | jromanbaker
Celebrate a great producer.
This was Ross Hunter's first film as producer for Universal. After his death the obituaries were hardly kind to his great body of work, and that was just before the elevation of Douglas Sirk in places like the English press as being a great director. Without disparaging Sirk I would like to stake a claim that Ross Hunter made Sirk great, and to even claim that 'Take Me to Town' is equal to Sirk's great trio: 'Magnificent Obsession', 'All That Heaven Allows' and 'Imitation of Life'. In some ways it is better as it is bursting with a life and energy that made many other musical westerns pale in comparison. One obituary in The Independent stated that Hunter was gay, but failed to mention that he and his partner supported AIDS charities. Hunter loved life and his enthusiasm towards that life produced great acting where even Sterling Hayden looks as equally responsive as Ann Sheridan whose role in this film outshone any of the others I have seen of hers. She glows, and her wit and charm radiate across the screen. Hayden responds and together with the equally great Lee Patrick make this a ten out of ten musical. At the time it may have been just another double bill film, but after seeing it I defy anyone not to feel better about life. This was Ross Hunter's great gift to the cinema but derided by critics he battled on. Was this due to homophobia? I bet many suspected at the time he was gay and it must be said that in many a film of the Fifties at Universal the screen glowed with good looking guys, in small roles and big. He may have adored women actors as some critics snidely observed, but he had an equal eye for the male and was perhaps the only film producer of the time to do so. Who else could have made Sirk see Sterling Hayden in beautiful soft focus close-up so that all of the audience could see, wow, what a hunk? Hayden bathed in Ann Sheridan's great presence in total sexual equality. Ross Hunter contributed to Gay culture during a dark time and let us celebrate him for it, not deride him. Sirk responded to the inspiration, as did other lesser directors knowing exactly what magic Hunter and the audience wanted. This is true cinema.