When I reviewed the 1934 version of this film, I’d been under the impression that I’d never heard of either of these films before. But, when I started watching this film, I realized that I had heard of this. As part of the filmography of Douglas Sirk, whose work I’ve seen too little of, and have been meaning to catch up on. So my viewing of the 1959 Imitation of Life served two purposes: watching another Sirk film, and seeing how it compared to an earlier film I’d already watched.
Like the 1934 Imitation of Life, this version too begins with a harried single mother and her young daughter. Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) is a widow with a six year old daughter called Susie (Terry Burnham). When the film opens, Lora is rushing about frantically on a very crowded beachfront, searching for Susie, who’s vanished.
One of my biggest failings when it comes to cinema viewing is the naive belief that an actor or actress whom I’ve seen and appreciated for the first time will necessarily be fantastic in all their subsequent films that I watch. Thus, having watched The Sound of Music—and raved over every single element of it, especially Julie Andrews—I began searching out other films that starred Julie Andrews, in the childish hope that they’d all be as fabulous as The Sound of Music.
Alas, no. This one, for instance, made only two years after the von Trapp saga, is nowhere close to as endearing. Julie is superb as the 20’s flapper girl Millie Dillmount, trying her best to be hard-heartedly modern, but the film is a bit of a drag.