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All That Heaven Allows (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Agnes Moorehead, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Grey
  • Directors: Douglas Sirk
  • Writers: Edna L. Lee, Harry Lee, Peg Fenwick
  • Producers: Ross Hunter
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2001
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005BH23
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,785 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "All That Heaven Allows (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind The Mirror: A Profile of Douglas Sirk (1979) BBC documentary featuring rare interview footage with the director
  • "Imitation of Life: On the Films of Douglas Sirk": a seminal essay by Sirk admirer and filmmaker Rainer Fassbinder, illustrated with rare ephemera
  • A stills archive with production phots and vintage lobby cards
  • Exclusive liner notes by noted film theorist Laura Mulvey

Editorial Reviews

Jane Wyman is a repressed wealthy widow and Rock Hudson is the hunky Thoreau-following gardener who loves her in Douglas Sirk's heartbreakingly beautiful indictment of 1950s small-town America. Sirk utilizes expressionist colors, reflective surfaces, and frames-within-frames to convey the loneliness and isolation of a matriarch trapped by the snobbery of her children and the gossip of her social-climbing country club chums. Criterion is proud to present this subversive Hollywood tearjerker in a new Special Edition.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 109 customer reviews
You have to do things to make yourself happy because in the end it is you that matters.
Diane Persico
Sirk's 1955 film, "All That Heaven Allows," tells the story of the romance between a well-to-do widow and a young, dreamy, non-conformist gardener.
Clare Quilty
The film is full of beautifully worked out images and set pieces that perfectly capture the characters' inner lives and moral dilemmas.
Noel Bjorndahl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on March 26, 2002
Format: DVD
Watching one of Douglas Sirk's 50's melodramas is slightly akin to visiting another planet. Everything about the Sirk reality is a bit askew: the people are basic and sincere, while their surroundings are heightened, beautiful and artificial (we know certain exterior scenes are filmed on sets, but the sets themselves are so big and elaborate they boggle the mind). It's a strange mix -- simple characters in an exaggerated world, almost like a David Lynch movie in which the only violence that occurs is emotional.
But if you give Sirk's movies time and attention and allow yourself to be taken in by the strangeness, they are surprisingly easy to accept on their own terms.
Sirk's 1955 film, "All That Heaven Allows," tells the story of the romance between a well-to-do widow and a young, dreamy, non-conformist gardener. It's the oldest problem in the world: they could be happy and in love if only it weren't for the other people around them.
I think the key to the success of this film is the performance of Jane Wyman as the widow. Her character is so fragile, yet also surprisingly strong. She says no more than she has to, but what she does say speaks on many levels. She's kind, but she's also after something she clearly wants very badly. Wyman is able to communicate these contradictions and complications with a calm, almost effortless stoicism.
The Criterion DVD is a marvel of technology.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Kim Anehall on January 21, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
All That Heaven Allows is a remarkable story about an older woman, Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), falling in love with a younger man, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), which was something unthinkable in the 1950's. Their love for each other seems to be doomed from the beginning with children pressuring Cary and a town that is full of malicious gossip. Ron disregards the public outcry against their love, but it is not as easy for Cary who has lived most of her life with the same societal policies that are now harming their love for each other. All That Heaven Allows offers a thoughtful story of social restrictions that might hamper the development of human beings and it does so with a brilliant cinematic experience.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Edward Aycock on April 17, 2003
Format: DVD
From the opening shots of a small (presumably a New England setting, although I am not sure where this was actually filmed) town during fall, to the bright blue car that pulls up to Jane Wyamn's home, to Agnes Morehead's head turning shade of lipstick, you know that "All That Heaven Allows" is firmly rooted in the 1950s. It's nice to see Douglas Sirk getting the critical appreciation he deserves (most recently with the full length Sirk homage "Far from Heaven".) This film is gorgeously photographed (pay attention to the scene where Wyman and daughter confer in the light of the stained glass window) and well told. While this film can hardly be called a "hard hitting" look at 1950s society at first glance, the more you watch it, the more the subversiveness comes through. One of the most telling moments is the conversation between Jane Wyman and the wife of Rock Hudson's friend who talks about realizing how caught up she and her husband were in material trappings and how they opted out of that lifestyle. This conversation (and indeed this film) is just as resonant and important today where materialism is rampant and the longings underneath the surface are never explored.
Rock Hudson is fine as Jane Wyman's landscaper/love interest. He's an incredibly good-looking man and is the recipient of one the film's funniest lines when Wyman asks him "Would you prefer I was a man?" Of course, this line is only funny in hindsight now that we know what we do about Hudson's life. Agnes Morehead (pre-Endora) is also very good as Wyman's best friend.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Noel Bjorndahl on September 8, 2006
Format: DVD
All That Heaven Allows is my favourite Sirk film. All his characteristic stylistic trademarks are present: high contrast lighting; precise, tight framing; expressive colour; and frequent use of reflected images and domestic interiors framed through objects like screens and windows that suggest confinement and entrapment. Sirk is dealing here with lives repressed by social conventions and projections of surface respectability.

Rock Hudson's gentle gardener Ron falls for well-heeled New England widow Cary (Jane Wyman) but is faced with interference from her grown-up children, her friends and social circle, as well as the hide-bound morality and hypocrisy of the small town community. One of this film's incidental pleasures is the presentation of an older woman/younger man liaison in a 1955 film with dignity and a total lack of self-consciousness.

Sirk details the milieu with telling examples of how family togetherness can suffocate emotional growth; how bourgeois comfort and wealth can create spiritual emptiness; and how patronising and mean-spirited much of a community's apparent kindness and concern actually is. Against Ron's Thoreau-inspired "natural man", the artificial offerings of Stoningham's elite are shown as a spiritual wasteland, best summated in a telling image of Cary's tortured face reflected in the TV set she didn't want, but that her children thought she "had to have" for Christmas.

The film is full of beautifully worked out images and set pieces that perfectly capture the characters' inner lives and moral dilemmas.
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