Essential Big Screen 2023
Screening Dates
  • December 15, 2023 6:30
  • December 23, 2023 6:30
  • December 28, 2023 8:20

A masterpiece by one of the most inventive and recondite directors ever to work in Hollywood.”

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Such is the influence of Douglas Sirk’s glossy, glorious melodrama that the film has twice been remade by notable Sirk acolytes: first by R.W. Fassbinder as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973); then by Todd Haynes as Far from Heaven (2002). The iconic original stars Jane Wyman as a middle-class, middle-aged widow whose love affair with her younger, bohemian” gardener (Rock Hudson) scandalizes her class-conscious family and friends. In one of the film’s most famous (and unnerving) scenes, her grown-up children, having persuaded her to ditch the inappropriate beau, attempt to placate her with a new television set. The movie is masterfully shot by cinematographer Russell Metty in expressionistic colours and elaborate compositions that further the subversive Sirk agenda; beneath the slick melodramatic surface, this is a devastating portrait of middle-class American shallowness, snobbishness, and intolerance. Wyman and Hudson were also the principals of Magnificent Obsession, Sirk’s blockbuster success of the year before.

The expressivity of Sirk’s canvas was never bolder than in All That Heaven Allows, in which deep reds, rich blues, and verdant greens are emotionally deployed with a devil-may-care confidence that still shocks to this day.”

Michael Koresky, Film Comment

The most enduring of [Sirk’s] late-career triumphs … At once a tender love story, a scathing social satire, and a heartfelt plea for tolerance, All That Heaven Allows is the prototypical Sirk melodrama.”

Sarah Cleary, BFI