Douglas Sirk was Hollywood’s king of melodrama, of impossible love, of broken hearts, and life shattering suffering. Cautionary tales of how if you open your heart against the odds and are willing to dream of a perfect love, there’s always a downside. He would offer you the dream, replete with beautiful picture postcard technicolour perfection, in this case exotic Salzburg and Munich, then he’d delight in throwing in the obstacle, not just a love triangle, but also a hidden secret that threatens to tear our lovers apart. That is the key to Sirk and why he was unique in the world of melodrama, his desire to create the impossibly perfect veneer, all the while conscious that this is simply surface beauty and a darker more complex emotional darkness lurks beneath.
In Interlude’s case we’ve got Helen Benning (June Allyson), an earnest young woman abroad, searching for love and adventure. Whilst initially courted by sensitive young doctor Morley Dwyer, the arrogant temperamental symphony conductor Tonio Fischer steals her heart. Everything’s going swimmingly, an exciting exotic European romance, up until Sirk brings in the obstacle. Tonio’s mad wife. Hello Jane Eyre.
There’s a certain discomfort in the final third of Interlude, you feel conflicted, almost complicit in your desire for the lovers to triumph despite the steadily mounting adversity. And Sirk shamelessly escalates to the point of hysteria. Like much of Sirk’s best work (Magnificent Obsession/ Imitation of Life) this is a remake of a John Stahl film, 1939’s When Tomorrow Comes, and this film is included on the second disc. Sirk’s version however is much more rewarding, thanks in the main to those typical Sirkian obsessions. Oh the agony.