Saturday, May 31, 2014
Both a heartbreaking melodrama and a sharp indictment of hypocrisy in 1950s America, this epitome of layered Hollywood filmmaking follows the blossoming love between an upper-middle-class suburban widow (Jane Wyman) and her handsome, considerably younger gardener (Rock Hudson). Their romance, greeted with scorn by her selfish children and outright disgust by her snooty friends, reveals the class-based prejudices of small-town life. Sirk and renowned cinematographer Russell Metty bring a richly ambiguous emotional tenor to each shot with calibrated colors and meticulous compositions that suggest the confinement of Cary’s life and the impossibility of escaping it. In its aesthetic and narrative richness, All That Heaven Allows has proven an endlessly durable model for artists of any medium who wish to address the manifold taboos of bourgeois society.