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All That Heaven Allows (Blu Ray Review)

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Criterion Collection

The latest release from the king's of physical media, The welcomes , the master of the melodrama to the boutique blu-ray label. With only one of his previous movies being available for the brand, this release of All That Heaven Allows brings that number up to three alongside Magnificent Obsession which is also now available. Considering its placement as one of the most famous melodramas of all time, this picture fits perfectly in the Criterion collection.

Criterion Collection

The film is one of Sirk's few collaborations with both and , both of whom star as a well off widow and her handsome younger gardener, respectively. When a romance blossoms between the two it quickly meets the scorn of those around them, leaving Wyman to have to decide between her own happiness or to carry on a lonely, hemmed-in existence for the sake of the approval of others. 

The film is gorgeous to look at, partly due to the beautiful restoration from Criterion but primarily because of Sirk and ace cinematographer Russell Metty's use of the wonderfully vibrant sets to frame Wyman as a woman trapped in her apparently perfect surroundings, all the while making use of the snowy backdrop and moody blue lighting, as well as reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors in order to capture her as a ghostly figure incapable of escaping the purgatory that is suburban life.

Criterion Collection

Furthermore, through the use of the continuity editing style that was popular amongst the Hollywood studio system of the time, the movie gently takes you through the story, with graceful long takes to reinforce the soullessness of Wyman's solitude before swiftly disrupting the world with the introduction of her romance with Hudson. 

There is no denying this Sirk masterpiece as a cliche'd genre flick of 50s Hollywood, full to the brim with hard, breathless kisses, big and bold declarations of everlasting love, and star crossed lovers met with obstacles at every turn, but All That Heaven Allows surpasses the confines of its time through Sirk's excellent direction and from some truly terrific performances from both Wyman and Hudson.

Limited Edition Special Features

  • 2K digital restoration
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholars John Mercer and Tamar Jeffers-McDonald
  • Rock Hudson's Home Movies (1992), a groundbreaking essay film about the actor by Mark Rappaport
  • French television interview with director Douglas Sirk from 1982
  • Excerpts from Behind the Mirror: A Profile of Douglas Sirk, a 1979 BBC documentary featuring rare interview footage with the director
  • Contract Kid: William Reynolds on Douglas Sirk, a 2007 interview with the actor, who costarred in three Sirk films, including All That Heaven Allows
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • An essay by film scholar Laura Mulvey and an excerpt from a 1971 essay on Sirk by filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder

All That Heaven Allows is released on March 13th through Criterion Collection.