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All That Heaven Allows

Now Playing 1h 29m Romance List
91% Tomatometer 33 Reviews 81% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings
Predicated on a May-December romance. The difference here is that the woman, attractive widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), is considerably older than the man, handsome gardener-landscaper Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Throwing conventional behavior to the winds and facing social ostracism, Cary pursues her romance with Ron, who is unjustly perceived as a fortune-hunter by Cary's friends and family -- especially her priggish brother Ned (William Reynolds). Read More Read Less
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All That Heaven Allows

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Critics Consensus

Big heart, big drama, and even bigger colors, All That Heaven Allows is tip top Douglas Sirk.

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Critics Reviews

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David Parkinson Empire Magazine Romance novel in narrative this transcends its genre with visual depth and perceptive socio-cultural insights. Rated: 4/5 Oct 16, 2007 Full Review Variety Staff Variety Hudson is handsome and somewhat wooden. Laconic of speech, and imbued with an angel's patience and understanding, it's at times hard to understand his passion for the widow, what with pretty girls just spoilingfor his attention. Oct 16, 2007 Full Review Bosley Crowther New York Times Solid and sensible drama plainly had to give way to outright emotional bulldozing and a paving of easy clichs. Rated: 2/5 Mar 25, 2006 Full Review Dave Giannini InSession Film All That Heaven Allows is a relatively simple story, characterization-wise, as most melodramas are, but it has a hook that most, if not all, viewers can latch on to. Feb 27, 2024 Full Review Sean Axmaker Stream on Demand "All The Heaven Allows" is one of Douglas Sirk's grandest films, charting the forbidden romance of a middle class widow and society matron with her much younger gardener. Mar 12, 2022 Full Review Nicholas Bell The glorious gift of All That Heaven Allows is Sirk in top form, one of his shining examples of life's wicked parodies. Rated: 4/5 Nov 4, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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First name L A classic I viewed on a whim, color me impressed. It handles a (still) polarizing narrative, examining it from all sides. Though the script can feel contrived, the staging melodramatic, there are few flaws in this film. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 06/09/24 Full Review Alec B The plot is sometimes silly, but still effective and Wyman's performance has just the right amount of quiet melancholy but the best reason to see the film is for it's visuals. Even if you aren't paying attention to the dialogue, the imagery will command your attention. Sirk seems to be telling a parallel story through the brightly colored cinematography (which always seems to hint at the character's hidden passions) and various items the characters own or exchange with one another. None of this is exactly subtle, although most people seemed to miss it in the 50s. These touches make what could have been a second rate melodrama into a beautiful film. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 11/10/23 Full Review Reuben M ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS was made in 1955 and is a commentary on a particular portion of America in that time. I suspect that in its time, it seemed more subtle and even provocative than it does 60 years later. So watching this felt a bit more like a "project" than an immersive experience. But it was still enjoyable, and at all times, it was an amazing film to look at. (I have the Criterion Blu Ray...the work they've done on this film is just gorgeous. The colors, especially when it's autumn, are so rich.) Recently widowed Cary (Jane Wyman) lives in her solidly upper middle class home in suburbia in New York, visited on weekends by her college aged son and daughter (although the actors clearly look every year of their actual 24 years, rather than 18 or 19). Her friends (best represented by Agnes Moorehead) are pushing her into selecting a new husband...and the suitors are lined up. Cary is attractive and younger than most of the available women. In an early, startling scene, she attends a country club party where the harassment she faces from some of the bachelors is presented as a kind of horrible dance she has to make it through. Cary navigates it well enough (and I guess in the 50's, it just comes with the territory), but she is a) clearly uninterested in all of these men and b) still has plenty of life left in her. Her daughter, a psych major, talks about the "fact" that with older adults, sexual desire naturally falls by the wayside. Well, not for her mom! Rock Hudson plays Ron, the gardener, who aspires to run a tree farm and live away from societal pressures. He believes a man should live how he wants to and not be ashamed. He also has an eye for the window Cary, and Cary sure has an eye for him. I'll say right here that Rock Hudson is not the world's greatest actor, and most of the chemistry this film generates comes from Wyman. I don't think it has anything to do with what we all found out decades later (Hudson is gay!!), but just that he's a bit wooden in dramas. His lighter films with Doris Day were more in his wheelhouse. However, the two embark on a pretty steamy affair, and eventually, marriage is on the table. Cary has to face the enormous disrespect of her peers the derision of her children and is essentially torn between two choices that seem irreconcilable. To the credit of the film, Wyman's choices actually do seem fraught. It's not so easy for her to cast of what she has known to follow her heart. There are twists and turns of a kind, until a somewhat clunky final few minutes. I realize my tone implies that I didn't care for the film or my experience of it. Despite many flaws, it's an oddly compelling piece. First, it comes in at a brisk 89 almost never drags in its pace. Director Douglas Sirk seemed to understand that he could not let this movie become ponderous; it would not bear the weight of too much seriousness. It is also full of irony. The social norms being explored come under pretty harsh but sharp scrutiny. These aren't easy jabs; they are pretty pointed and I found myself really enjoying these moments, especially when Cary is just as aware of the irony as the audience. As I mentioned, the film is gorgeous to look at; please see the Criterion version if you can. During the bonus segments, we see some scenes of the film again, but taken, obviously, from old video tape and we can see just how amazingly this film has been restored. Sirk was known for his careful lighting and shows in all its glory here. And finally, I'd say the film is worth watching for Jane Wyman's performance (and to a far lesser degree, Moorehead). It took me a few minutes to warm to her Cary, but before long, I was rooting for her all the way. And it's a role that could have been done with lots of histrionics and showy acting. But Wyman, guided by Sirk, who actually wanted her sense of stillness specifically, makes Cary a remarkable strong women. Yes, she is torn as to what to do, but her struggles are internal and real. We understand the choices she feels she must make, and with few exceptions, Wyman puts it all out there with remarkable restraint and intelligence. She makes Cary both very "ordinary" and very exceptional at one time. The bonus materials are generally pretty good. There are several longer interviews with an aging Sirk. He's an interesting guy. He rarely smiles or looks back on his life with humor. But he is also brutally honest about evaluating his work, and certainly for someone interested in learning about "auteurs", the bonus info is very worthwhile. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 06/29/23 Full Review Audience Member Good family watching right here. Yes I recommend it James Welch, Henderson, Arkansas, June 12, 2023. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 06/14/23 Full Review Audience Member As far as Romance is concerned ,this movie offers a wonderful variety of conflicts every couple might face. You will encounter all Stereotypes such as town Gossips, judgmental and disrespectful townsfolk and family;To the truest of friends. The dynamic between Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson was sweetly portrayed.But unfortunately lacked the passionate aspects to make their relationship more convincing. Their chemistry made up for it with some tongue in cheek humors and witty dialogue. Overall the Scenery and Cinematography was spectacular. Each setting reflected a cozy and picturesque atmosphere to envelop its viewers by its glamorous charms. What stood out to me the most was how strongly each character conveyed their emotions.Every one personifying an extremely extroverted point of view. There was never a question what motives or intentions each individual had towards the other. I would have given this film a perfect 5 Star Rating if it wasn't lacking the chemistry I was hoping for between the two lovers. Unfortunately their unspoken connection was not very convincing . Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member Although derided in its time as a "woman's picture," the tantalizing, bittersweet spell of this tender film will fully enrapture any viewer with a heart and a desire to use it. The lush, homespun quality of the vistas captured here would make for ideal postcard art, including the memorably tame stag which boldly if unrealistically approaches the protagonist for a bite of food and a caress on the head. Sirk's approach is far from subtle; he pulls out all of the stops and creates a work that is so unreservedly saccharine that an opinion becomes forced: we either reject the work on the basis of its shameless lack of inhibition, or we admire it for its willingness to express its intentions right out in the open and without apology. A third option that is ever possible when discussing a filmmaker as intelligent as Sirk may be to suspect a deeper and more nuanced purpose, concealed cleverly beneath a sense of artifice that is almost deliberately conspicuous. In the case of this viewer, the all so important themes of being true to oneself coupled with the stubborn persistence of romantic yearning in the face of all of logic's protests never felt so good as they do here. And in technicolor, they never looked so good either. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Read all reviews
All That Heaven Allows

My Rating


Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Predicated on a May-December romance. The difference here is that the woman, attractive widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), is considerably older than the man, handsome gardener-landscaper Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Throwing conventional behavior to the winds and facing social ostracism, Cary pursues her romance with Ron, who is unjustly perceived as a fortune-hunter by Cary's friends and family -- especially her priggish brother Ned (William Reynolds).
Douglas Sirk
Ross Hunter
Peg Fenwick, Edna L. Lee, Harry Lee
Universal Pictures, Criterion Collection, Critics' Choice Video
Production Co
Universal International Pictures
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Jan 13, 1956, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
May 6, 2017
1h 29m
Sound Mix
Aspect Ratio
Flat (1.85:1)