Friday, September 24, 2021

Melodrama Watch: All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Watched:  09/24/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's (so, so 1950's)
Director:  Douglas Sirk

Douglas Sirk was a @#$%ing mad man.  

This is one of the most bizarre looking and beautiful movies I've ever seen - like someone went to technicolor and just said "this one goes to 11".  Every shot looks like one of those super-saturated ads from a 1950's print magazine, is perfectly framed and blocked.  It's just amazing to look at. 

The story is not exactly whisper thin, and it's some very real stuff served up as a fluffy morality play.  Sirk was a guy who knew his audience - we first studied him in the "women's pictures" unit in film school.  But that audience is absolutely not just women, it just puts women front and center in their own stories.  

Jane Wyman (Ms. Falconcrest herself) plays a middle-aged widow with two grown kids (well, college-aged) who is dealing with the nonsense of East Coast bougie social life, including husbands making passes at her (not cool, husbands).  Wyman's best pal is, of course, Agnes Moorehead.  Who looks fantastic by the way.*

Well, Rock Hudson shows up as her tree-guy, and the two get chatty, and I don't know if you've seen Rock Hudson, but that guy was not going to have trouble getting dates.  Really, screw you and your surplus of handsome, Rock Hudson.

Anyhoo... he's sort of a man of the woods, clean-cut beatnik with cool friends who know how to cook.  Just a few years too old to give Ginsberg and the gang a place to crash.  Off screen, Wyman and Rock smash, I guess.  And everything looks gorgeous everywhere they go.  With, like, a fucking deer showing up and prancing around.

Needless to say, the Yankee blue bloods are scandalized by Wyman's dude, and the kids don't like it.

You could absolutely remake this movie now with the same impact.  People being dicks about your significant other is a tale old enough to get a song about it by Angela Lansbury.  But sometimes Rock Hudson shows up and he wants to whisk Jane Wyman off her feat, and who is Jane Wyman to say no to that?  These are universal stories, man.

Obviously not my usual faire, but I watched Sirk's Imitation of Life like 25 years ago, thought it was great, and have wanted to eventually watch this one ever since.  It did not disappoint.  

Even if you don't care to watch it all that hard, just put it on and be amazed at the technicolor and cinematography.   

*if I traveled back in time and wound up producing movies, I would absolutely make a movie with Eve Arden and Agnes Moorehead where they were co-leads and both wound up as romantic champions.  It is a damn crime that these two were always a second banana.

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