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All That Heaven Allows

Douglas Sirk

This heartbreakingly beautiful indictment of 1950s American mores by Douglas Sirk follows the blossoming love between a well-off widow (Jane Wyman) and her handsome and earthy younger gardener (Rock Hudson). When their romance prompts the scorn of her children and country club friends, she must decide whether to pursue her own happiness or carry on a lonely, hemmed-in existence for the sake of the approval of others. With the help of ace cinematographer Russell Metty, Sirk imbues nearly every shot with a vivid and distinct emotional tenor. A profoundly felt film about class and conformity in small-town America, All That Heaven Allows is a pinnacle of expressionistic Hollywood melodrama.

“More than anything else, All That Heaven Allows is simply a stunning visual achievement, with Sirk employing deeply saturated color and geometrical compositions (note how often a vertical line separates Cary and Ron in the frame) to rapturous effect.” AV Club

“In all the stunning grandeur of his heavily saturated colors and Superscope composition, Sirk never lets his characters become washed out, or treats them as secondary elements to his visual style. His sympathies save films like ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS from their own absurdities, and the more ridiculous his storylines and intricate visual compositions become (take note of the way he frames characters within things like window frames and television sets), the more beautiful his films seem.” Cine-File

“Beneath the stunningly lovely visuals – all expressionist colours, reflections, and frames-within-frames, used to produce a precise symbolism – lies a kernel of terrifying despair created by lives dedicated to respectability and security…” Time Out

“A masterpiece (1955) by one of the most inventive and recondite directors ever to work in Hollywood… Sirk’s meaning is conveyed almost entirely by his mise-en-scene—a world of glistening, treacherous surfaces, of objects that take on a terrifying life of their own; he is one of those rare filmmakers who insist that you read the image.” Reader


  • 12/15 | 7:00PM
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