All That Heaven Allows
Jai-W Hayes-Jackson and Ryan Rabea
The movie was directed by Douglas Sirk, written by Harry and Edna Lee, and produced by Universal Pictures. We could not find a budget for the film, but it did relatively well in the box office grossing 3.1 million dollars. It starred two huge actors in Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman as the main roles, with Jacqueline deWitt as the antagonist, Agnes Moorhead as the best friend, and Gloria Talbott and William Reynolds as Cary Scott’s children. The New York Times wrote “The script was obviously written to bring Wyman and Hudson, who made a popular twosome in The Magnificent Obsession, together again. Solid and emotional drama gave way to outright emotional bulldozing and a paving of easy clichés. Today it is received very well even being added to the National Film Registry in 1995. It is also quite surprising that the only controversy in this film was between the director and Universal on the ending. Hudson was a gay man and Sirk was a German born who made Marxist films, in a time when both of those would be heavily looked down upon.
We discussed how Sirk was very paradigm breaking with this film, and against the norms of the day. He was against the oppression of the woman, and that was on display throughout the whole movie. He used the main character of Cary Scott to show that women have their own identity outside of a man, and they should be allowed to explore that through their own choices. He broke down normal gender roles. Rock Hudson’s character is very expressive of his feelings throughout the movie, he is the much less well-off of the duo, and he is willing to give up children to pursue love of an older woman. Cary Scott is rich, and very strong and independent in the film, opposite the norm for women. The film was non-consumerist in some of its messages. Consumerism was taking hold in the 50’s and 60’s. Many people valued themselves by their perfect suburban houses and new appliances. Cary Scott was willing to give up on her perfect house and move to the country side with a poorer man who couldn’t give her all that. She was even against buying herself a television. Also the movie was non-conformist and escapist. Sirk wanted a sad ending with Hudson dying to show the audience that if you conform to what society wants you will be miserable, but he was still able to put that message on display with how devastated Cary was after she called off the engagement with Ron.
All That Heaven Allows challenges both gender roles of women and the consumerism around investing in a house. The protagonist, Cary Scott is viewed as a conventional women until she becomes engaged to a man who is less well off than she is. Enlightened that her reputation would be ruined, she still defies normalcy and continues with the relationship. It was atypical of women to care more about themselves than there reputation which Cary Scott seems to pioneer away from. We also see the effects of consumerism in the movie with the house representing the ideal American home. The same house from Leave it to Beaver, we see that there was a stigma that revolved around what an American family should strive to embody, especially through consumerism products such as televisions and cars. All That Heaven Allows is also brings up the question of why a relationship that was abnormal, was otherwise disapproved of. After discussing possibilities, it was majorly agreed on that gender roles was very strict and rigid and that anything outside of these norms was mostly frowned upon. With that being said, Cary Scott’s relationship was no different.