This is what Peyton Place couldve been, if filmed by Sirk. The colors are just beautiful, the cinematography engaging, and the characters practically covered in suds from the soapy melodrama. I think this is probably Sirk's career defining work, but I have still to check out Written on the Wind before making a definitive statement. A true highlight of 50's Hollywood. Essential. 5 stars
At my first sight, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS seems like an ordinary melodrama movie. To be honest there's nothing "wow" in its storytelling. After the movie ended, suddenly, I was thinking. Then, something just popped in my brain. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS has something more complex than its ordinary look. It talks about some issues. From marriage, social-class, and family matters. Not to mention, that glorious Technicolor
You know, although I'm not a fan of romantic (melo)dramas, there's something about Sirk that speaks to the deepest corners of my soul. Hudson's quiet charisma swirls all over this, but so do vastness of nature vs. confined interiors populated by petty human behavior, the masterful lighting, the colors that are so bright they feel like they're about to burn through the film...
My God that palette, if I only could dream in Technicolor. Those rich reds and blue snow are the stars of the show. "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away".
Re-started it, the next day, intending only just to re-watch the opening scene again. 90 minutes later... Bless all you cinema studies folks, telling me about Sirk's mirrors and fades, while I'm borne along in a blissful technicolor daze, with orchestral swells, and all Jane Wyman's amazing coats. And the deer! Sigh... Gets as close to studio-era closure as I can tolerate (and no closer). And it sure is satisfying.
Setting aside the use of color (it's gorgeous), there are a lot of great visual affectations on display here from the deer returning in winter to Rock Hudson's association with wood to (of course) the famous shot of Cary trapped inside the television set. Every one of the film's points comes through loud and clear, and its points are astonishing for a film made in the mid-50s. It's pretty wonderful all around.
Eisenhower's 1950s vision of a quaint patriarchal Christian middle-class Conservative America is subverted with subtle finesse by Sirk. Haynes' homage in 'Far From Heaven' owes much to Sirk's distinctive aesthetic and semantic signature. Underneath the sheen is a repressed soul aching to break free.