From 1955 and directed by Douglas Sirk, All That Heaven Allows tells the story of a widow with two grown children who finds romance with a handsome, younger gardener, despite the objections of her two dull children and the gossip and bitchiness of her small, New England town, which is ruled by the country club.
I was a bit surprised to find that Criterion had restored and released this film on DVD. It is, after all, a romantic melodrama and not an award winner. After watching it, I understand why. As with most of Douglas Sirk's films, the sets are fantastic and the colours are stunning. However, it also encapsulates the 1950's obsession (particularly among the suburban, WASP-y, upper middle class communities) with conforming to the status quo, despite personal desires. Jane Wyman breaks off her romance with Rock Hudson because of the rumours spread by the town gossip and her friends, and by him not "fitting in" with the country club set, even though that is what first attracted her to him. And of course, by her dull, small-minded children, who wanted everything to stay just as it was, even though they now live in New York and are building their own lives, away from a mother and a hometown they rarely visit. And of course, Rock Hudson is not interested in making money (shocking!), he just wants to do what he loves and he's younger than Jane Wyman. Actually, Rock Hudson was only eight years younger, but still, shocking for 1955.