288 Great Directors: John M. Stahl

“[couldn’t find a quote]”

Why This Director?
: Curiosity over his more well-regarded melos.

My Last Experience Was…: The films Sirk took on later: Imitation of Life/Magnificent Obsession.

What Did I Watch: Only Yesterday.

Where Does He Fit: Only Yesterday opens on Black Sunday, and while it does so hilariously, the humor in watching the stock market crash from a fairly safe distance still feels unnerving unless you’re lucky enough to have never experienced an economic panic. Society still seems to be carrying on when we flash back despite mores getting upended, with Edna May Oliver’s snob and Billie Burke’s flapper giving conflicting comments to Margaret Sullavan, pregnant and unmarried and in love with one of the soon to be suicidal men. Are we going down memory lane when it’s really the woman who does not forget? Letter From an Unknown Woman would come along in a year more years from Ophuls, but this is a fascinating predecessor from the originator of life’s small and grand tragedies.


Most Valuable Asset: Totally sincere soap opera.
Most Excited For: Only good looking one left is Leave Her to Heaven.

Coming Up Next: The ultimate experimenter, James Benning.


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