All That Heaven Allows
|All That Heaven Allows|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Douglas Sirk|
|Produced by||Ross Hunter|
|Music by||Frank Skinner|
|Editing by||Frank Gross|
|Distributed by||Universal International Pictures|
|Running time||89 minutes|
|Box office||$3.1 million (US)|
All That Heaven Allows (1955) is a 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.
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.
- Jane Wyman as Cary Scott
- Rock Hudson as Ron Kirby
- Agnes Moorehead as Sara Warren
- Conrad Nagel as Harvey
- Virginia Grey as Alida Anderson
- Gloria Talbott as Kay Scott
- William Reynolds as Ned Scott
- Jacqueline De Wit as Mona Plash
- Charles Drake as Mick Anderson
- Leigh Snowden as Jo-Ann
- Merry Anders as Mary Ann
- Donald Curtis as Howard Hoffer
- Nestor Paiva as Manuel
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.
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."
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
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".
References in other films
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.
- All That Heaven Allows at the Internet Movie Database
- All That Heaven Allows at allmovie
- All That Heaven Allows Laura Mulvey essay at Criterion Collection
- All That Heaven Allows Gary Morris DVD Review at Images Journal