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Directed by Douglas Sirk

United States 1955 89 mins. In English

Douglas Sirk made a career on moody melodramas, and perhaps none is more effective at evoking the repression of 1950s America than All That Heaven Allows. Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is an upper-crust widow with a generally good life. Enter Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), a landscape architect much younger than Cary, who nonetheless catches her eye due to his down-to-earth demeanor. It’s clear the two love each other, but Cary’s repressive milieu, including her adult children, disapprove of the fledgling romance. Sirk’s film is an intelligent and sensitive glimpse into mid-century New England social mores prismatically rendered through one of classical Hollywood’s great love stories. And yet, there is so much more going on in the film: “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.”—Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader.

Genres: Melodrama

Appears in: Essential Cinema