An upper-class widow falls in love with a much younger, down-to-earth nurseryman, much to the disapproval of her children and criticism of her country club peers.


Douglas Sirk


Peggy Thompson (screenplay) (as Peg Fenwick), Edna L. Lee (story) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Wyman ... Cary Scott
Rock Hudson ... Ron Kirby
Agnes Moorehead ... Sara Warren
Conrad Nagel ... Harvey
Virginia Grey ... Alida Anderson
Gloria Talbott ... Kay Scott
William Reynolds ... Ned Scott
Charles Drake ... Mick Anderson
Hayden Rorke ... Dr. Dan Hennessy
Jacqueline deWit ... Mona Plash (as Jacqueline de Wit)
Leigh Snowden ... Jo-Ann Grisby
Donald Curtis ... Howard Hoffer
Alex Gerry ... George Warren
Nestor Paiva ... Manuel
Forrest Lewis ... Mr. Weeks


Cary Scott is a widow with two grown children. She's been leading a quiet life since her husband died, socializing with a small circle of friends. Her children no longer live with her full-time but come home every weekend. She's not unhappy but also doesn't realize how bored she is. Her friend Sara Warren encourages her to get a television set to keep her company but she doesn't want that either. She develops a friendship with Ron Kirby who owns his own nursery and comes every spring and fall to trim her trees. Ron is much younger than Cary and their friendship soon turns to love. Her circle of friends are surprised that she is seeing such a younger man and she might be prepared to overlook that - Ron certainly doesn't care about the differences in their ages - but when her son and daughter vehemently object, she decides to sacrifice her own feelings for their happiness. Over time however, she realizes that her children will be spending less and less time with her as they pursue their... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


How much does Heaven Allow a Woman in Love?


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


This film seems to borrow its title from the last line of the poem 'love and life' by John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester: " All my past Life is mine no more, The flying Hours are gone: Like Transitory Dreams giv'n o'er, Whose Images are kept in store By Memory alone. The Time that is to come is not; How can it then be mine The present Moment's all my Lot; And that, as fast as it is got, Phillis, is only thine. Then talk not of Inconstancy, False Hearts, and broken Vows; If I, by Miracle, can be This live-long Minute true to thee, 'Tis all that Heav'n allows. " See more »


When Alida tells Cary to get her coat, Cary gets her coat, but doesn't stop to get boots. But when she gets out of the car at Ron's mill house, she's wearing boots. See more »


Ron Kirby: I can't shoot straight anymore.
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Featured in Fassbinder in Hollywood (2002) See more »


Consolation No.3 in D flat major
Music by Franz Liszt
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User Reviews

Sirk's Classic May-December Romance Still Resonates in All Its Artifice
17 January 2006 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

German-born director Douglas Sirk made several melodramatic films in the 1950s that reflected Eisenhower-era sensibilities about morality and class structure within the flourish of his decidedly Baroque film-making approach. Dubbed trivially though appropriately as "women's pictures", they reflect a defining, often over-the-top style which has inspired other filmmakers, most obviously, Todd Haynes with his accomplished 2002 partial remake, "Far From Heaven". In my opinion, this 1955 film best represents Sirk's technique and consequently it is his best work. Fortunately, the Criterion Collection has seen fit to produce a DVD package commensurate with the quality of the film itself.

Similar to the later "Peyton Place", the plot is pure small-town soap opera, but the storyline is far more focused and nuanced than one would expect. Attractive fortyish widow Cary Scott is leading a sheltered life of unsolicited solitude with her beautiful home, circle of country club friends and two grown children away in college. She catches the eye of Ron Kirby, her young buck of a gardener, who turns out to be a non-materialistic, Thoreau-reading lover of nature who lives outside of town in a greenhouse in an only-in-Hollywood idyllic setting. Cary is definitely attracted to the much younger Ron, but her worries of what others may think prevents her from being too demonstrative about her feelings. Of course, their platonic relationship turns into forbidden love, at which point Cary tries to win the approval of her friends and children when she announces her engagement to Ron. In one way or the other, they all reject her decision, and she breaks off the engagement. The rest of the story works toward a hopeful but still tentative conclusion, which seems befitting of what audiences probably expected in the 1950s.

On the surface, it sounds as emotionally manipulative as a Danielle Steele romance novel. However, what fascinates me most about Sirk's film is how he sets up such an artificially-derived world and simultaneously shows how deeply committed he is in its credibility. The glorious Technicolor cinematography by the estimable Russell Metty (aided by "color consultant" William Fritzsche) adds to the hermetically sealed environment, but it's also due to how shots are meticulously composed, how the sets are placed, how people are dressed and how Frank Skinner's Rachmaninoff-inspired music heightens the melodrama. The right casting in such a movie, of course, is critical, and Sirk was smart to reunite Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson from their previous teaming in the even more melodramatic "Magnificent Obsession". With his steady, whispered tone and Adonis-like stature, the youthful Hudson is ideally cast as Ron, even if his relentless seriousness overemphasizes the character's innate nobility. What he does surprisingly well, however, is show how Ron's inability to compromise his principles is as much a barrier as the prejudices of Cary's friends and children.

Even better is the elegantly styled Wyman, who manages effectively to convey Cary's conflicting sensibilities and loneliness without seeming desperate. Well before she hardened her persona later with TV's "Falcon Crest", she exuded a girl-next-door likability that didn't really diminish as she matured. The rest of the cast is strong with particularly exceptional work by the women - Agnes Moorehead as Cary's supportive best friend Sara, Virginia Grey as Ron's close friend Alida, Jacqueline deWit as the venal gossip Mona, and Gloria Talbot as Cary's psychology-obsessed daughter Kay. The print transfer on the Criterion Collection DVD is pristine. There is also a nice extra with an edited 30-minute interview with Sirk from a 1979 BBC documentary, "Behind the Mirror".

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Release Date:

25 December 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

All That Heaven Allows See more »


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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Eastmancolor and Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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