All That Heaven Allows
Douglas Sirk’s ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is the second title in a four-part Essential Cinema series dedicated to UNRULY WOMEN in cinema.
This heartbreakingly beautiful indictment of 1950s American mores by Douglas Sirk follows the blossoming love between a well-off widow (Jane Wyman) and her handsome and earthy younger gardener (Rock Hudson). When their romance prompts the scorn of her children and country club friends, she must decide whether to pursue her own happiness or carry on a lonely, hemmed-in existence for the sake of the approval of others. With the help of ace cinematographer Russell Metty, Sirk imbues nearly every shot with a vivid and distinct emotional tenor. A profoundly felt film about class and conformity in small-town America, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is a pinnacle of expressionistic Hollywood melodrama and an endlessly durable model for artists of any medium who wish to address the manifold taboos of bourgeois society. (1955, Douglas Sirk, U.S., English, 89 mins, NR, DCP)
The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk (Mark Rappaport, USA, 2014, 11min)
Mark Rappaport probes the burdensome nature of beauty and bodily control through one of classical Hollywood’s most essential props: the vanity table. Employing clips from landmark films like All That Heaven Allows, the filmmaker delves into how Douglas Sirk used this pejoratively named piece of furniture.
The Art Theater thanks Mark Rappaport for the opportunity to present his short film before the Special Event screening of All That Heaven Allows. To see more of Mr. Rappaport’s work visit his Fandor and Kanopy pages.
“But Sirk surpasses melodramatic cliches by securing an exceptional performance from Wyman, whose soft face, as watchful and nervously expectant as a child’s, is captivating throughout, subtly registering every chink of hope and approaching black cloud. This is her, and Sirk’s finest hour.” — Jane Graham, The Guardian
“Wyman plays Cary as a woman accustomed to satisfying or at least making comfortable others, regardless of what suffering she may endure. She knows no other way, but is starting to realize it possible.” — Scott Nye, The Criterion Collection
“More than anything else, though, All That Heaven Allows is simply a stunning visual achievement, with Sirk employing deeply saturated color and geometrical compositions (note how often a vertical line separates Cary and Ron in the frame) to rapturous effect.” — Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club