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A producer's input

November 10, 2002

Producer Ross Hunter had greater responsibility for the look of Douglas Sirk's soap operas -- and their very existence -- than Sirk himself ("Back to the days of subversive innocence," Oct. 27).

It was Hunter, a big fan of the weepies of the '30s and '40s that Thomson mentioned, who convinced Universal executives that pairing aging actresses with their contract heartthrobs Rock Hudson, Jeff Chandler and, later, John Gavin could be profitable.

Hunter chose the properties and developed the scripts, and it was his feeling that women moviegoers preferred to see the female stars suffer in beautiful gowns and jewels amid opulent surroundings that led to the lush look associated with not only the Sirk-directed films but all of the films produced by Hunter.

The Albert Zugsmith-produced films "Written on the Wind" and "The Tarnished Angels" got made because of the success of the Hunter films, and it's worth noting that they had a harder edge, reflecting more the different temperaments of the two producers than of Sirk.

Rick Mitchell

Los Angeles

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