I love classic movies, and I’ve been lucky enough to own copies of quite a few of them, but one movie I’ve had on my “wish list” for a long time and never got around to purchasing is the beautiful 1955 Douglas Sirk film, “All That Heaven Allows,” with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.
Jane’s character, Cary Scott, is an upper middle-class widow who falls in love with her gardener, Ron Kirby, played by Rock Hudson. His Thoreau-like existence is very different from her country-club lifestyle, and she is attracted to him, his life, his friends, and appears to feel free to be herself with him, feeling free for perhaps the first time in her life. Cary and Ron plan to marry, but the disapproval of her friends and especially that of her children becomes more than she can take. She asks Ron to make many compromises so she can try to satisfy everyone she loves, but ends up pleasing no one, most of all herself. It takes her a long time to finally realize what’s really important.
This movie is so gorgeously filmed; it takes place in small-town New England, beginning in the autumn. It is this movie that made me acutely miss living where there were four seasons; for many years I planned to move to New England one day, though I now have the autumns I had been longing for here in Oregon.
Also, Ron’s lifestyle appealed to me as well; when I first saw this movie I felt trapped in a situation where I felt I couldn’t live the life I wanted or be myself. I wasn’t a “country-club” woman, but I could relate strongly to Cary feeling restrained and repressed in her life before she met Ron. The movie was part of what got me thinking about the kind of life I truly wanted for myself, and how I wanted to go about attaining it.
I can’t say this movie has something for everyone; it’s a romantic melodrama which may not appeal to all. But the onscreen chemistry between Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson is marvelous to see, and in which to get swept up. Someone on YouTube put together this lovely sepia video montage of scenes from the film:
If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. Turner Classic Movies shows it now and then, and the next showing will be in early October. Here’s the trailer from the film (and yes, I did buy the DVD the other day; it’ll be here Tuesday). Enjoy!