All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
All That Heaven Allows
How much does Heaven Allow a Woman in Love?
Friends and family want a rich widow to end her romance with a tree surgeon about 15 years her junior.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
God, the production design and cinematography, yes, and the withering portrait of repressive values, but sometimes I think that the artistic virtues of Sirk, of which there are many, are stressed as a means of justifying his chosen field of women's pictures, when even on a script level this is such a compelling movie, and so forcefully acted that its subtext, however key to the picture, is still the subtext under a direct swirl of emotions. It's all great, is what I'm saying. Why has it taken me so long to really dig into Sirk?
Douglas Sirk said that films need violence, a statement that some may find surprising, especially considering this one: an admittedly sappy melodrama about seemingly impossible love. But I think the most violent act in his films is a subtle (though effective) one that can be found within the so-called happy ending. He fulfills 50s Hollywood's need for perfectly wrapped up conclusion where everything is right and nothing is left unresolved- or at least this is what it's disguised as.
When the rest of the film is steeped in social problems and conflict, simply tying it up by having the protagonist follow their heart and topping it off by making it sickenly visually beautiful to the point of total falsity is…
Am reminded of a George Carlin joke - "the best thing about living on the beach is that you only have assholes coming at you from three sides."
I've been trying to come up with ways to condense what I want to say about this, but there's so much that it seems impossible to do, particularly between tasks at work, which is where I do most of my writing these days for better or worse (definitely the latter). But I'm still thinking about the way Sirk paints the frame with color and light, and the way something as simple as a television set can be a massive imposing presence in a room, sucking all the life out of it (and how Sirk angles it so that it reflects the flame in the fireplace, reasserting its presence). And just everything about the final shot. It's too much to put into words.
"It's all so pointless"
A deer in the snow
Never before have white people
Suffered so beautifully
Mona is a ginormous bitch
Beautiful, sumptuous melodrama from Douglas Sirk. Never fails to hit me right in the gut. A true classic.
How Miss Scott Got Her Groove Back.
The way Sirk used composition and color to elevate Hollywood melodrama into something more complex is incredible.
Though I've seen other Douglas Sirk movies, they never lose their ability to sneak up on me - Sirk's gift for hitting the audience with an unexpected but, in retrospect, inevitable emotional wallop is unparalleled. With All That Heaven Allows, about the romance between a strong but sensitive gardner (Rock Hudson) and a recently widowed socialite (Jane Wyman), I knew the premise beforehand, and the movie doesn't have any shocking twists, but Sirk uses the form of the "women's picture" to draw out moments of surprising, sometimes painful moments of emotional insight. Watching Wyman's character's judgment at the hands of her passive-aggressive "friends" and her awful, awful children is almost too much to bear - particularly stinging are the moment…
Cary, a middle-aged widow, asks her lover Ron about halfway through this film - “why is it so difficult all of a sudden?” She is in love and wants to get married but is facing new problems. This is because the man she is in love with is much younger and from a lower class. This difficulty all of a sudden provides the story for this romantic, fairly mundane melodrama. One of the problems of the film is Cary’s baffling naivety in realising how difficult her relationship with Ron turns out to be. This is small town 1950’s America after all... The film turns out to be an effective critique of the rigid conventionality of suburban America. One has to…
Douglas Sirk's tale of a widow who falls in love with her younger gardener is a scathing indictment of middle-class America in the 1950s. It's very much a film that criticises the American Dream, with Sirk seeing the attainment of wealth and family as merely fuelling haughtiness. Having written a dissertation on social pressures in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina only a few months ago, I could recognise the same thematic content in Sirk's film but 50s America is a lot more boistrous forthright than either 1890s New York or Imperial Russia. While the world of 'All That Heaven Allows' doesn't quite share their opulance, Sirk's use of Technicolor gives the film a visual boldness that perfectly conveys the same claustrophobia of those two canonical texts. It is a truly wonderful film, with an outstanding lead performance by Jane Wyman.
Candy colored images (the kind that would be prominently featured in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's conclusion to his BDR trilogy, Lola), overwrought dialogue, and some progressive thinking for a 1955s film are the ingredients for Sirk's terrific All That Heaven Allows.
The idea of a woman escaping the rigid domesticity of the 50s suburbia for a more exotic life is compelling. Sirk's greatest accomplishment, however, is the feelings he evokes through imagery that is grand. A reflection in a television set, the leaves on a tree, and dramatic lighting somehow serve a more accurate presentation of this subject matter than other more grounded melodramas achieve. If anyone has spent time in the suburbs they'll understand that Sirk has captured all the idleness, the yearning, and the beauty of the sprawl.
"All That Heaven Allows" received a lukewarm reception in 1955, considered too much of a soap opera rather than a legitimate movie. However, the movie had a revival when feminist film theoreticians found its highly symbolic nature and its impassioned female leads endearing and hailed Sirk as the master director for the feminist age.
Sirk, meanwhile, was just making films with people he enjoyed. "All That Heaven Allows" re-teamed the stars of his previous film, "Magnificent Obsession." Wyman was newly divorced from movie star Ronald Regan and knew a partnership with Hudson would make her still viable in the public's eyes. Hudson needed any female lead that he looked attracted to. As a gay man acting in the 1950s, it…
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game
- Grand Illusion
- Seven Samurai
- The Lady Vanishes
- The 400 Blows
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 158/738