All That Heaven Allows

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All That Heaven Allows
ATHA01.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Produced by Ross Hunter
Written by Story:
Edna Lee
Harry Lee
Screenplay:
Peg Fenwick
Starring Jane Wyman
Rock Hudson
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Frank Gross
Distributed by Universal International Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 25, 1955 (1955-08-25) (United Kingdom)
  • December 25, 1955 (1955-12-25) (United States)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3.1 million (US)[1]

All That Heaven Allows is a 1955 romance feature film starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in a tale about a well-to-do widow and a younger landscape designer falling in love. The screenplay was written by Peg Fenwick based upon a story by Edna L. Lee and Harry Lee. The film was directed by Douglas Sirk and produced by Ross Hunter.

In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. All That Heaven Allows has been broadcast on American television and is available in VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray format.

Plot[edit]

Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is an affluent widow in suburban New England, whose social life involves her country club peers, college-age children, and a few men vying for her affection.

She becomes interested in Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), her gardener, an intelligent, down-to-earth and respectful yet passionate younger man. Ron is content with his simple life outside the materialistic society and the two fall in love. Ron introduces her to people who seem to have no need for wealth and status and she responds positively. Cary accepts his proposal of marriage, but becomes distressed when her friends and college-age children are angry. They look down upon Ron and his friends and reject their mother for this socially unacceptable arrangement. Eventually, bowing to this pressure, she breaks off the engagement.

Cary and Ron continue their separate lives, both with many regrets, but Cary's children soon announce they are moving out. Having destroyed her chance at happiness, her children buy her a television set to keep her company. Before doing so, her daughter apologizes to her mother for her prior impulsive and foolish reaction to Ron. Cary's doctor points out that Cary is now lonelier than she was before meeting Ron.

When Ron has a life-threatening accident, Cary realizes how wrong she had been to allow other people's opinions and superficial social conventions dictate her life choices and decides to accept the life Ron offers her. As he recovers, Cary is by his bedside telling him that she has come home.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Universal-International Pictures wanted to follow up on the pairing of Wyman and Hudson from Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession (1954). Sirk found the screenplay for All That Heaven Allows "rather impossible" but was able to restructure it and use the big budget to film and edit the work exactly the way he wanted.[2] The music which often plays throughout the film is Consolation No.3 in D-flat major by Franz Liszt.[3]

Reception[edit]

Bosley Crowther generally panned the film and commented in The New York Times of February 29, 1956: "The script was obviously written to bring [Wyman] and Mr. Hudson, who made a popular twosome in the Magnificent Obsession, together again. Solid and sensible drama plainly had to give way to outright emotional bulldozing and a paving of easy clichés."[4]

Many critics and film scholars view the film as a social critique of the conformity-obsessed 1950s.

Wyman was only 38 when she played the film's 'older woman' who scandalises society and her grown-up children by becoming engaged to a younger man. Hudson, 'the younger man', was 30 at the time.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1995, All That Heaven Allows was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[5]

References in other films[edit]

All That Heaven Allows was the inspiration for Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) in which a mature woman falls in love with an Arab man. The Sirk film was spoofed by John Waters with his 1981 film Polyester. Todd Haynes' Far from Heaven (2002) is an homage to Sirk's work, in particular All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life. François Ozon's 8 Femmes featured the winter scenes and the deer from the film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ Laura Mulvey (18 June 2001). "All That Heaven Allows". Film Essays. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "All That Heaven Allows". TCM. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  4. ^ New York Times Review
  5. ^ "National Film Registry". Library of Congress, accessed October 28, 2011.

External links[edit]