Favorite things about… All That Heaven Allows (1955)

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(Image via The Film Stage)

The favorite film:
All That Heaven Allows, a 1955 melodrama from the soap king himself, Douglas Sirk

The synopsis:
In a well-to-do suburban town, Cary Scott lives alone. Her two children are in college, and her husband has died, leaving her with an empty home and a less-than-active social life. Her friend Sara and admirer Harvey do their best to bring her out of her shell, inviting her to events with the country club crowd. But it seems Cary would rather spend her time with her down-to-earth gardener, Ron Kirby.

The cast:
Jane Wyman as Cary Scott
Rock Hudson as Ron Kirby
Gloria Talbott as Kay Scott
William Reynolds as Ned Scott
Virginia Grey as Alida
Agnes Moorehead as Sara
Conrad Nagel as Harvey

Fun facts:

  • The film is based on a novel by Edna and Harry Lee, first published in Woman’s Home Companion.
  • All That Heaven Allows reunites three players from 1954’s Magnificent Obsession – Wyman, Hudson, and Moorehead – as well as their director, Douglas Sirk. TCM reports that most of the production crew was the same for both films as well.
  • Sirk once said of the film’s title, “As far as I’m concerned, heaven is stingy.”
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(Image via The Soul of the Plot)

  • Cary’s neighborhood in the film was a Universal backlot known as “Colonial Street.” This backlot was also used (in altered form) for titles such as The Desperate Hours and  the TV comedy Leave It to Beaver.
  • Though their characters are meant to have a pretty large age gap, Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson were 38 and 30 years of age, respectively, when the movie was filmed.
  • This film marked Conrad Nagel’s return to the screen after over five years. Most recently, he had appeared in 1948’s The Vicious Circle, according to TCM.

Favorite things/quotes:

  • That technicolor!
  • Wyman and Hudson reunited, a year after Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession
  • Ron: “They call it the golden rain tree. Beautiful, isn’t it? They say it can only thrive near a home where there’s love.”
  • Kay’s detailed psychological and social analysis of Harvey
  • Cary getting a proposal from Harvey, while Kay delivers her own beau a 20-minute academic lecture on love
  • Cary’s excitement over exploring the old mill
  • Ron: “I’ve met plenty of girls, nice and… otherwise.”
  • Ron’s philosophy on life: Don’t give importance to unimportant things, and always be true to yourself.
  • Ron’s magically quick mill restoration, complete with huge picture window!
  • Ron telling Cary he renovated the mill so they could live there together. D’aww!
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(Image via Andrew’s Idea)

  • The tone throughout most of this film is somewhat quieter and more mellow than Sirk’s other ’50s dramas. It still has its moments (gossipy Mona, a few scenes with Cary’s kids), but is generally somewhat of a calm change of pace for the director.
  • Sara cluing Cary in on the extent of Mona’s petty ways
  • Cary saying she won’t give up her love with Ron just because people are gossipy and cruel
  • Kay’s expression when Cary says she’s not marrying Harvey, but Ron Kirby
  • Ron: “Nothing’s important except us. Will you remember that?”
  • The ominous music during Cary’s big confrontation with Ned
  • The scene of Cary and Ron’s breakup — so tragic!
  • Cary running into Ron at Mick’s Christmas tree lot
  • Cary: “Don’t you see, Kay? The whole thing’s been so pointless!”
  • That reflection of Cary in the new TV set
  • Cary immediately rushing over to reunite with Ron after running into Alida… and then driving away, AS RON TUMBLES OFF OF A CLIFF! The Sirkiest moment of all.
  • The ending can be read as sweet and hopeful, or somewhat depressing! Remember that quote from Sirk: “Heaven is stingy!”
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6 thoughts on “Favorite things about… All That Heaven Allows (1955)

  1. Todd B says:

    I’ve never seen this, but it sounds…stingy. And as I just discovered, I’ve never seen a Douglas Sirk film, so I guess this will be the first when the time comes to watch one!

    Like

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