3 items from 2014
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
If the dissolve has traditionally been thought of as little more than a glue connecting scenes in a conventional dramaturgy, a functional symbol of time’s passage, the technique’s employment by Douglas Sirk always aimed at a more complex dimension. In Sirk’s films, the moment of the dissolve—often suspended for three or four seconds—becomes a composition in itself, a vital carrier of subtext. Less about division (1 happens, then 2 happens) than unity (1 affects or produces 2), Sirk’s dissolves—so tinged with import that they must have been the product of close collaborations with his editors and his regular cinematographer Russell Metty—reveal the psychological connective tissue that spreads across the course of a narrative. Temporal expanses have little relevance in this context; the dissolve becomes a way of demonstrating the coexistence of the past, present, and possible futures.
All That Heaven Allows (1955), simultaneously one of the leanest »
- Carson Lund
3 items from 2014
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