4 items from 2014
Chicago—The word “melodrama” has become a lazy one for too many critics who use it as a way to dismiss films that deal with extreme emotions. For a film to be melodramatic, it must be flawed. Any fan of Douglas Sirk will tell you that this is a fallacy. Melodrama can be a heartbreaking, genuine form of artistic expression, arguably never more so than in Sirk’s most beloved film, “All That Heaven Allows,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray.
With a gorgeous 2k digital restoration that really allows Sirk’s colorful compositions room to pop while not presenting an overly plastic remaster that would have drained the film of its humanity and fascinating special features that include the entirety of “Rock Hudson’s Home Movies,” “All That Heaven Allows” is one of the stronger Criterion releases of 2014. It’s a film that too many have been quick to dismiss »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Written by Peg Fenwick
If ever there was a movie to reap the visual benefits of a Criterion Collection Blu-ray digital restoration, it is Douglas Sirk’s 1955 film, All That Heaven Allows. This lushly photographed work is Sirk’s most scathing and insightful commentary on subversive Hollywood cinema and the sociocultural norms it sought to challenge. With venerable cinematographer Russell Metty behind the camera, the film is radiant with rich, pulsating color, giving visual vibrancy to lives of complacency and routine. It was Sirk’s follow-up to his successful Magnificent Obsession from the year before, which has similar themes and tones and was another gorgeous melodrama. Universal kept what worked, bringing back Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, and Metty. In many ways though, it’s All That Heaven Allows that stands as the defining work of Sirk’s career, the greatest of »
- Jeremy Carr
As Laura Mulvey’s essay, “An Articulate Screen” contends, 1955’s All That Heaven Allows was “just another critically unnoticed Hollywood genre product,” the attempt for a studio to repeat the pairing of stars Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman after the box office success of their work on the earlier Sirk title, Magnificent Obsession. But, the film has come to be one of Sirk’s signature pieces in an oeuvre astoundingly reconceived passionately by later generations of critics and international filmmakers, and rightly so. While his films can be classified as soapy melodramas, or that even more insidiously demeaning label, ‘women’s pictures,’ Sirk was hardly churning out tearjerker fodder—rather, his were insightful, complex portraits and elegant critiques of 1950’s social mores.
An upper class widow, Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) lives alone in her large home, her children Ned (William Reynolds) and Kay (Gloria Talbott) away at school and visiting on select holidays and weekends. »
- Nicholas Bell
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: June 10, 2014
Price: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.95
The 1955 drama follows the blossoming love between a well-off suburban widow (Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession) and her handsome and earthy younger gardener (Rock Hudson, Seconds). After their romance prompts the scorn of her selfish children and snooty country club friends, she must decide whether to pursue her own happiness or carry on a lonely, hemmed-in existence for the sake of the approval of others.
With the help of ace cinematographer Russell Metty (Spartacus), Sirk imbued nearly every shot with a vivid and distinct emotional tenor. A pinnacle of expressionistic Hollywood melodrama, this profoundly felt film about class and conformity in small-town America.
Criterion’s Blu-ray/DVD combo edition »
4 items from 2014
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