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All That Heaven Allows

Director:  Douglas Sirk
Year Released:  1955
Rating:  3.5

Superb soap opera by Sirk that reveals some potent truths about gossip while telling an effective love story: widower Jane Wyman and gardener Rock Hudson fall for each other much to the dissatisfaction of society and her family, who spread rumors about the two of them and shun them from society. Three distinctive points are made (in my view): (1.) that a double standard exists in the way older men are allowed to carouse with young women but not vice versa (and still very true today: notice the headlines the Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher relationship has gotten), (2.) that people sometimes say the most awful things right to your face or lace their conversations with you - around others - with pure malice (and dare you to verbally strike back at them) and (3.) that family can be just as cruel - if not more so - than friends and neighbors. It sometimes goes over the top - the nerdy neo-Freudian daughter (with her coded 'glasses' - she 'loses' them later on when she talks of marriage) is a pain, and the drama a little mawkish (Hudson falls off a cliff and lives!) - but that's just Sirk being Sirk. Fassbinder's remake of this is just as good and adds an extra component: racism.

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