Watched: August 14 2017
Director: Douglas Sirk
Starring: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Agnes Moorehead, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Grey, Gloria Talbott, William Reynolds, Jacqueline deWit
Runtime: 1h 29min
Cary Scott (Wyman) is a youngish widow (typecast much?) with two grown children in college. While her hoity-toity society friends want her to remarry within their social circle, Cary has her eye on gardener and nurseryman Ron Kirby (Hudson).
Luckily for Cary, her feelings are reciprocated, and the unlikely couple start dating. Ron introduces her to his kind and laid-back friends and shows her a whole new way of life – one where material possessions and status do not matter. It’s an appealing thought for a woman trapped within a boring and unfulfilling existence with bitchy women and horn-dog men.
As their relationship becomes gradually more serious, the couple meets with prejudice from Cary’s friends and children. Will they overcome these obstacles? Will love triumph over small-mindedness and social constructs?
It’s only our second Sirk film, but already we’re seeing a pattern (apart from the obvious one of casting the same actors); at the root of everything there is a philosophy. In Magnificent Obsession the idea was that it is one’s duty to help those less fortunate. In All that Heaven Allows, one’s duty is to oneself – to live the way one wants to and not how society expects you to live, and to make choices for oneself and not always put others first.
It’s an engaging and fun watch, beautifully shot, and in glorious technicolor. Romantic dramas aren’t really our favourite genre of films, but Sirk does them wonderfully, and we’re enjoying getting to know this director. Great lazy Sunday viewing (although we technically watched it on a Monday. But Monday before work started, so Monday-for-Sunday).
What we learned: Society’s expectations should not stand in the way of love. Also, to thine own self be true.
Next time: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)