Melodrama Master: John M. Stahl

If you like Douglas Sirk, you'll love John M. Stahl. Stahl (1886–1950 ), the original Hollywood melodrama master.

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  • Imitation of Life

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Past Films

  • The Keys of the Kingdom

    • Sunday, July 26 6:30 PM
    John M. Stahl
    U.S., 1944

    Studio Print!

    The young Gregory Peck garnered an Oscar nomination for his performance as a priest in China who refuses to buy converts but wins them anyway through compassion, tolerance, and common sense.

  • Imitation of Life

    • Saturday, July 25 6:00 PM
    John M. Stahl

    The lives of a black maid (Louise Beavers) and a white widow (Claudette Colbert) intersect in a scheme to manufacture pancake batter, in this melodrama. Nominated for three Academy Awards and named by Time in 2007 as one of the twenty-five most important films on race.

  • Holy Matrimony

    • Friday, July 17 7:00 PM
    John M. Stahl

    Studio Print!

    This droll fable of class and authenticity, revolving around a painter who poses as his own valet, reveals Stahl as a capable director of comedy.

  • The Foxes of Harrow

    • Friday, July 10 8:50 PM
    John M. Stahl
    United States, 1947

    Studio Print!

    In antebellum New Orleans, Irish gambler Stephen Fox (Rex Harrison) wins a plantation and a beautiful, aristocratic wife (Maureen O’Hara), but can he master them?

  • Back Street

    • Sunday, July 5 6:30 PM


    Stahl adapts Fannie Hurst’s bestselling novel into a surprisingly clear-eyed, quietly devastating story about what happens when a woman has nothing but a man, and not much of him.

  • Magnificent Obsession

    • Friday, July 3 8:30 PM
    Douglas Sirk
    United States, 1954

    A callow playboy sets out on a path towards redemption after causing a doctor’s death, and blinding the doctor’s widow, in Stahl’s great melodrama. Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne star. Later remade by Douglas Sirk.

  • Seed

    • Wednesday, July 1 7:30 PM

    Archival Print!

    A would-be writer whose ambition has been dampened by domestic life is soon tempted by a former flame. “Dominating the picture is the feminine reaction to life. And this is Mr. Stahl’s forte” (LA Times).

  • When Tomorrow Comes

    • Friday, June 26 8:45 PM
    John M. Stahl
    USA, 1939

    Stahl combines Depression-era labor struggles with dreamlike romance in this tale of a waitress (Irene Dunne) and a married man (Charles Boyer). Based on a James M. Cain story, and later remade by Douglas Sirk as Interlude.

  • Only Yesterday

    • Saturday, June 20 6:30 PM
    John M. Stahl

    A young woman can’t forget the handsome lieutenant that she spends an evening with during the early days of World War I in Stahl’s acutely self-aware melodrama. Margaret Sullavan’s screen debut.

  • Leave Her to Heaven

    • Thursday, June 18 7:30 PM
    John M. Stahl
    USA, 1945

    Restored Print!

    Intoxicating Gene Tierney (Laura) is the femme fatale par excellence in this astounding Technicolor noir classic, now beautifully restored, about a young novelist (Cornel Wilde) whose new bride’s extreme jealousy plunges their nuptial heaven into hellish depths of psychic disorder.