All That Heaven Allows/C,C+
Criterion/1955/89/ANA 1.77

    One day widow Cary Scott notices Ron Kirby snipping at her bushes. Cary makes moon eyes at the gardener and invites him to share some coffee. You'd never guess while Ron sits with a tree up his bottom and Cary plants niceties that these two people will find a common ground for sex. Beneath the staid exterior of the New England town a smutty undercrust fermented on hypocritical social mores rules the day.  
     Plot and execution are very dated. The town gossip is more suited to a comedy than a romantic soap. The attitude of Cary's children, at least as expressed in the film, is close to ridiculous. The daughter spouts social mantra like a broken teapot pours tea. The son should have been thrown out of the house before the action began. Cary's best friend is a reasonable creation. The liveliest scenes take place with Ron's circle of friends. They are a charming mix of big city refugees, hard working immigrants and backwoods mainstays.

Rock serenades his lady. ŠUniversal

    There's a scene in Ron Kirby's newly transformed old mill home that look like it was created by a window dresser for Macy's. Big flakes are flowing outside the huge paned picture window and frost has formed perfectly surrounding the perimeter's of each section. It looks like Kirby must have gotten a trendy New York decorator to pull his house in order. The guy will resort to anything to convince matronly Cary Scott to slip into the marriage bed. Rock Hudson gives Ron Kirby the big tree school of acting treatment. It's pretty tough for him to make a convincing case for wooing Wyman's Cary Scott, so why not tantalize her with tales of tall white tipped trees. 
     Rock Hudson playing Ron Kirby tries hard enough to put the moves on Jane Wyman as Cary. The big question, unanswered by the film, is why?  There's little screen chemistry between them. 
    Director Douglas Sirk helms in high style, creating picture postcard scenes between the teardrops and snow flakes. The script leaves little room for audience concern for the characters. 
    The original elements appear somewhat less vibrant than an early fall New England landscape. There's a slight tinge of brown mixed in with the overall color. Color pulsing at scene transitions and some misregistration, especially in the country club sequence. There are minor intrusions of source dirt and a few scenes are less than perfectly sharp. Contrast is fine with plenty of overall light output. Shadow detail is in good balance. The mono sound is clean.
    Criterion gives All That Heaven Allows a special edition treatment including an hour of filmed excerpts from a 1979 BBC documentary featuring lots of interview footage with director Sirk. An written essay by filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder is presented with still photos. There's also a step-through presentation of promotional materials and still photos and the theatrical trailer.




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