Tag: All That Heaven Allows

March 28, 2017 /

There has never been a thorough way of stamping down individuality and strength. Even during society’s most oppressive states, humans have found ways of expressing themselves through one way or another, even if not always in the most obvious form. Sometimes, though, these assertions of self are so incredibly in plain view that they become easy to entirely overlook, as is the case with the role fashion has played in solidifying female identity in film. Long dismissed as mere cosmetics and playing dress-up, women’s cinematic fashions have nevertheless inspired far-reaching cultural trends by reflecting or encouraging resilience.

August 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Kris Tronerud

All That Heaven Allows • 1955 •  Directed by Douglas Sirk

Kay: Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that old Egyptian custom of walling up the widow alive in the funeral chambers of her dead husband … Of course it doesn’t happen anymore.
Cary: Doesn’t it?
— Jane Wyman and Gloria Talbott in All That Heaven Allows

In 1937, successful German Theater director Detlef Sierck, along with his Jewish wife, actress Hilde Jary, was denounced to authorities by a vengeful ex-wife, and forced to flee 1937 Germany; with little else but moxie and a considerable European reputation, the newly christened Douglas Sirk quickly found work in wartime Hollywood, starting out, appropriately enough, with an anti-Nazi potboiler, Hitler’s Madmen. Sirk, however, might well have been remembered simply for a long string of colorful, quirky, better-than average programmers, were it not for his fortunate teaming with an inordinately supportive studio and an equally sympathetic producer: of the 23 (!) consecutive films he made at Universal, four made for kindred spirit Ross Hunter (Magnificent Obsession {1954}, All That Heaven Allows {1955}, Written on the Wind {1956} and Imitation of Life {1959} form the core of his American work; of these, All That Heaven Allows is the undisputed masterpiece.