All that Heaven Allows
Story: He wears lumberjack plaid. She wears country club mink. Can this relationship work? Of course not, what would their closet look like?
When widow (Jane Wyman) and much younger gardener (Rock Hudson) fall in love, the highfalutin town insists the couple is incompatible.
Why Watch it:
The Technicolor will leave you absolutely punch drunk. The rich palate of reds and blues makes one think the planned community in which Cary lives is heaven on Earth… of course, we know better…
Throughout the film, director Douglas Sirk frames Cary in taut close ups. Her reflection bounces off various glossy surfaces – a piano, a tabletop, and the knockout towards the end of the film: THE TELEVISION. After Cary has given up her love so that her children and snobby friends can feel better about their own life decisions following the group, Cary is gifted one of them new tee-vees. Upon delivery, she gazes into the blank screen of the television, and her own lonely reflection gazes back. Nearby, the fireplace rages… suggesting Cary isn’t in heaven; she’s in hell!
I have goose bumps thinking about it.
Interesting fact: Initially, “All that Heaven Allows” was an assignment Sirk didn’t want anything to do with. However, he made it work by finding a way into the story, personalizing it.
Hailing from Germany, Sirk had remarried to a Jewish actress. His first wife was not pleased at all. Sitting tight on the Furor’s bandwagon, Sirk’s first wife forbade him from seeing his child. Sirk’s son became an actor in Nazi propaganda films, and later died on the front. Sirk was a Father who was refused a relationship with his only son because he found love with a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany. The social climate in “All that Heaven Allows” is quite fascist, indeed.
“All that Heaven Allows” underscores many of the lies we tell one another and ourselves. It comments on the betrayals of family and society.
As if you needed another reason to watch this free YouTube flick, here’s one – okay, let’s make that two:
– Sirk was Fassbinder’s cinematic compass. ATHA inspired “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” in which an older woman falls in love with a younger Arabic man.
– Todd Haynes’ “Far from Heaven” is homage to “All that Heaven Allows”.
This film is Romeo and Juliet… set at a country club. And I Can’t Believe it’s on YouTube!
Written by: Mich Medvedoff