Friday, October 15, 2010
All That Heaven Allows (1955)
I'm not even going to try to make an excuse, kids.
So here we have the classic soap in its purest form. The kind where middle class suburban women walk around in fabulous coats and live in fear of being gossiped about. If you've seen Peyton Place, it's a lot like it.
All That Heaven Allows is a melodrama about an older, middle-class widow Cary (Jane Wyman) who falls in love with her younger gardener (Rock Hudson). And of course, societal pressures fight to keep them apart.
That's it folks, it's one of those movies where the plot is established in the first few minutes (or at least hinted at) and the rest of the film is spent waiting for these two crazy kids to finally get together, with the likes of the neighborhood bitch and Cary's horribly obnoxious kids complaining and sniping enough to make Cary second guess her love.
It's in this sense that the movie is a bit of a sly social satire, using the film (much like Peyton Place) to condemn the sort of gossipy, country club set who place reputation and image over happiness and truth.
The two leads are serviceable, given the material. As I said, it's a straight up soap, so they aren't given much to do besides embrace, kiss, and look longingly at each other. Jane Wyman effectively portrays the conflicted woman, but her character is written as being so weak and malleable that it can be a bit hard to watch at times.
But this is also a movie where you're either going to love it or hate it. It's an absolutely gorgeous film, but it's such a soap opera that it's not going to appeal to those who are maybe more cynical or having acquired a taste of the good old fashioned Hollywood melodrama.
So, if you're into the DRAMA of the suburban middle class, I highly recommend this movie. It's exactly what you'd expect.