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on 8 June 2006
This gorgeously melodramatic potboiler was made in the mid-50's just as Jane Wyman's star power was waning and Rock Hudson was becoming a superstar. But All That Heaven Allows is most memorable as a study of small town intolerance, and where it's portrayal of a world that is mostly picture perfect - at least for the inhabitants of Stonington, Connecticut where the movie is set - is nothing more than quaint.

These days All That Heaven Allows is most notable for forming the basis for the brilliant Julianne Moore film Far From Heaven, out a few years ago. Both have the same visual look - white churches, nice homes and beautiful trees - and both films attempt to skewer societal narrow-mindedness. Yet there are obvious differences: Far From Heaven dealt with racial and sexual politics, while this film - keeping mindful of the time it was made - mines the effects of class and economic status.

Carey Scott (Wyman) is a middle-aged widow, living a quietly domestic life in Stonington. She has a lovely home and two devoted children, she's also a pillar of society and cares a lot about her standing in the community. Yet Carey is also a fragile and lonely woman, and there's a part of her that aches for some kind of emotional connection.

She has a number of wealthy men, who routinely court her, but it is Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson) who she is ultimately drawn to, he's a tall, muscular and handsome young man who customarily prunes her trees. Ron is not a dolt; he's a college educated, intuitive and sensitive, but over the years, has learnt to spurn the trappings of society. Uncomplicated and trouble-free, he lacks the phony polish and sophistication of Carey's city friends.

An outdoorsman - Ron lives in a picturesque cabin by a bubbling stream in the country and has lots of artists, writers and has lots of fun loving bohemian friends who regularly come to visit him. Carey seems to represent everything, Ron is rebelling against; however, the two soon fall in love, swept up by their mutual attraction. There initial courtship is tempered by Cary's insecurities - it's not so much the class as the age difference - she is older by a decade.

Problems also arise when Carey's prudish and snobbish children (William Reynolds and Gloria Talbott) turn on her for wanting to marry a gardener, some one of a lower class; they see him as some type of gigolo, a big shot who obviously has no real money of his own, and is content to feed off their mother's wealth. Resistance also comes from Carey's oppressive society ladies. Her best friend Sara (Agnes Moorehead) - while staying loyal to Carey - warns her that there are those on the town who will talk.

Carey's friends pretend to be urbane and classy but they lack refinement. In fact, they're all rather petty and shallow. When Carey invites Ron to one of Sara's soirée's, her guests anxiously stare out the window, waiting for Ron to show up so that they can sink their talons into him - he is their quarry, and thing to be ridiculed, especially by Mona, the town gossip (Jacqueline De Witt).

Wyman and Hudson are both standouts as Carey and Ron; Wyman does a great job of playing this damaged, vulnerable women who has been going through life letting other people - mostly her hypocritical and selfish children - make most of the big decisions for her. And the gorgeous Rock is exemplary as the sophisticated, and extremely good-looking muscle stud who sweeps Carey off her feet with his tender and sensitive side.

All That Heaven Allows is absolutely gorgeous to look at, with director Douglas Sirk bathing the film in brilliant primary colours, which highlights the natural beauty of the New England landscape. Sirk shows a bourgeois family in which the children oppress their mother instead of the other way around. Sirk also presents an intimate and quite daring portrait of a woman who gets caught up in unnecessary negativity, her paranoia at what people are saying threatens to engulf her and she needs to learn to just go with the flow.

Carey knows that it is wrong not to marry Ron - after all, she loves him, despite the age difference - but she is far too concerned with honoring the petty social mores of the time, and satisfying her insincere and two-faced children. In the end, this doesn't really mean much, especially when true love is involved.
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This truly stunning transfer of Sirk's splendid and subversive melodrama is however region A locked and so will not work on most UK blu ray players. That said it is of reference quality in all departments and even better than Criterion's splendid DVD release of a few years ago. I cannot recommend this disc too strongly!
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1955's lovely "All That Heaven Allows" arrives on an American Criterion BLU RAY release that has received universal acclaim across the pond.

It boasts a gorgeous fully restored print with hundreds of instances of dust, dirt and crap removed from the original negative (2K mastered) and the soundtrack is overhauled and remastered too. It has a DVD and stunning supplementary material as well as a detailed booklet. All great news for fans - but...

As all film buffs will know - Criterion releases are 'always' REGION A LOCKED and therefore will not play on the vast majority of UK or EUROPEAN players because of crappy Region Coding (we are REGION B). It doesn't say this clearly enough on Amazon's entry.

At present the cheapest 'All Regions' BLU RAY player is the Sony BDPS-1100 at two hundred quid - still a fair outlay for most. So please remember - if you live in the UK or anywhere other than the USA - this June 2014 BLU RAY will NOT PLAY on your machine unless it's 'All Regions'.

There have been many instances where a restored print of a classic has been licensed by BFI or Studio Canal or other quality reissue companies - but with "All That Heaven Allows" - we will have to wait and see...
55 Comments| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a dramatic masterpiece on the double standards and hypocrisy of modern day traditions and superfluous hypocritical values ,as the script depicts the tragic tale of a widow with teenage kids being forced to deny true love out of social constraints, but she is masterfully brought to realise that her sacrifice is in vain,as it does not matter to anyone except herself leading a forlorn and miserable existence when she can lead a happy life if she listens to her heart ,the movie is about being true to yourself and states very accurately that by being true alone can you bring happiness to all around you as well as find contentment within yourself .

Rock Hudson is really a rebellious revelation as the non-pretentious "younger man" who believes in simplicity in life as being the eternal truth and the bourgeois values as being bogus and superficial and totally unnecessary,Jane Wyman is left to ponder and find the truth in her own way by the sophisticated script and that realisation forms the crux of this social and sensitive drama as the feminist streak finds her own strengths to overcome her social inhibitions .

Douglas Sirk combines style and bitter truth in a manner unique to himself ,he is an absolutely amazing film-maker who fascinates with his observation of social trivia and petty human behaviour ,this movie is an indepth satire on the redundant social gossip and silly norms which are revealed as truly monstrous in a beautifully simple emotional exercise, where two people who can be unconventionally happy are being denied that right by social hypocrisy,and finally the movie triumphs in showing that social disapprove is of no consequence to the human existence as long as it does not affect anyone adversely .

The line "you will allow yourself an affair but deny love"is absolutely amazing and so sums up the social hypocrisy portrayed in this masterpiece in stylish simplicity.
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on 4 September 2013
Bought for a parent who likes these oldies. Very pleased with it, plays well, and bearing in mind a previous bad review from a person with a comment about chinese subtitles, the person must have switched them on because they do not come on automatically. Delivery was in the time for the free post, and I would deal with this company again. *****
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on 6 December 2011
I can only say BRILLIANT!!!You can't better the older movies, no bad language, no sex will purchase many more fims of this quality
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on 10 July 2013
Love tis movie, reminds me of rainy Saturday afternoons and watching old movies on BBC2... they don't make movies like this anymore.. love it
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on 27 September 2013
If you love, love, love good stories with great cast lists then watch this & magnificent obsession. They are both superb.
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on 5 October 2014
This beautiful movie thie Douglas Sirk 'weepie' is one of my all time favourites, a romance from the 50s that dissects the hypocrisy of small town America, and of the age itself. Rock Hudson at his most handsome, Jane Wyman heartbreaking in her struggles against the gossips and the opinions of her narrow minded children, and a superbly chosen supporting cast. With a gorgeous music score added to the mix, I defy anyone not to well up at the ending!
The Criterion Blu Ray restoration looks absolutely beautiful, with rich and vibrant colours. There are some terrific extras, including a profile of Rock Hudson made with wit and style, and a bio of Douglas Sirk. Informamtive booklet is enclosed with the discs, which includes a DVD too. Worth every penny.
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on 29 November 2012
It took me ages to find this film title from the back of my memory. I love all the snowy scenes and old fashioned attitudes and stereotypes. Great nostalgia. Already watched it with friend who also enjoyed it.
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