Imitation of Life: The Films of Douglas Sirk

April 6 - 27, 2017

Explore the essence of the genre known variously as "women's films," "weepies," and "melodrama" and discuss how filmmaker Douglas Sirk transformed those labels through sheer, irresistible style, making himself one of the Essential Directors. Our course, in four weekly sessions, will investigate the appeal and allure that have made Sirk's film making loom increasingly larger as generation after generation of film enthusiasts and film makers discover and rediscover his art. 

"The essence of Sirkian cinema is the direct confrontation of all material, however fanciful and improbable. His art transcends the ridiculous as form comments on content. Sirk's formal achievements helped lead the way into a more sensuous future." So Andrew Sarris wrote of Douglas Sirk in 1968. We'll concentrate on the five films for which he is best known, but will also look into his lesser-known work as well as that of more recent film makers-such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Todd Haynes-who have carried the Sirkian torch to new eras and audiences.

Class Specifics
4 Thursdays: April 6 - April 27
7:00pm - 9:00pm
SIFF Film Center Classroom
$50 / $40 SIFF Members

April 6: Lured; Magnificent Obsession
April 13: All that Heaven Allows; Written on the Wind
April 20: The Tarnished AngelsImitation of Life
April 27: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder); Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)

Class Workload:
Registrants are expected to be familiar with Douglas Sirk's filmography, preferable having recently viewed the feature films before each class session. All films listen in the Weekly Class Breakdown are largely available streaming or through DVD rental locations and web services. There will also be suggested readings which may be emailed in advance of specific classes.

About the Instructor:
Robert C. Cumbow has taught in Seattle University's Film Studies Program since 2010. His courses have included Westerns, Horror Films, Vampire Films, Hitchcock, Kubrick, and David Lynch. He has also taught mini-courses on Westerns, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Kathryn Bigelow at the Northwest Film Forum, and last year conducted the SIFF Cinema Dissection of Psycho. An attorney, Mr. Cumbow practices trademark and copyright law at the Seattle office of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, and also counsels artists and arts organizations in intellectual property and media law issues. He has been an advisor on several Seattle-made independent films. He has written books on Sergio Leone and John Carpenter, and numerous articles on film, most of which are collected at