But before we leave this subject, consider the 2002 Todd Haynes' film, Far from Heaven. Although Haynes is "channeling" Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows, the content of both films is really a mid-20th-century spin on Lady Chatterley. In Sirk's version, the gamekeeper is a gardener played by Rock Hudson, and the husband is dead. But in Hayne's version, the "crippled" husband is Dennis Quaid, whose closeted homosexuality prevents him from fulfilling his wife's need for intimacy. And to put Lady Chatterley in terms a modern audience can relate to, the gamekeeper/gardener in this version is black, Dennis Haysbert, the wholly acceptable spokesman for Allstate insurance. Lawrence was onto something in the 1920's that haunts us to this day. Remember the infamous Cheerios commercial a few months ago?
Born this day in 1906, his official title was Count don Luchino Visconti di Modrone. Who better than a member of the aristocracy itself to document its decline in films like The Damned and The Leopard? But we have the amazing Coco Chanel to thank that Victonti became a filmmaker at all. It was she who got him connected to Jean Renoir, for whom he worked as an assistant director before branching out on his own. Here are clips from his beautiful Death in Venice, featuring Mahler's Fifth Symphony, followed by a clip from The Leopard with Burt Lancaster, allegedly one of the most inspired casting decisions in film history. It's the Italian version. Since Vicsonti disavowed the American version released by 20th Century Fox, it would be sacrilege to include it on this, his birthday, of all days.