All That Heaven Allows (1955) is a classic Douglas Sirk melodrama. It was the second time Sirk paired stars Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson together, the first time being in Magnificent Obsession (1954). The story is about a wealthy widow (Jane Wyman) whose two children are college-bound and she finds herself falling in love with her much younger gardener (Rock Hudson) to the dismay of the uppity society she exists in. It's a shame that I had to sum up such a fantastic movie with such a pathetic boiled down sentence such as that one, but there it is.
This film does what a social drama should do; expose the injustices of a society, whether it be society at large or a particular type of society. In this case, it's the suburban, upper-crust, country club society of the 1950's. The main character, the widow Cary, is oblivious to such injustices until she gets to know and falls in love with her gardener Ron. Sometimes it takes someone from a different world for one to understand one's own world; it allows for a sort of eye-opening introspection. This film was cast off as simple weepy melodrama for many years until people began to understand the film's underlying social commentary.
Some who watch the film may think it's over-the-top, but I think it's quite an effective movie. We are first introduced into Cary's world, then we fall in love with Ron and learn to appreciate his rebellion and then we hate everyone who is trying to keep Cary and Ron apart. And c'mon, who wouldn't fall in love with Rock Hudson? What's more romantic than seeing him feeding a lone deer on a snowy morning? If that isn't enough to make a gal weak in the knees, I don't know what is.
I read the featured article on this film on TCM's website and found out something about the film I hadn't been aware of before. To demonstrate Cary's entrapment in her world, Jane Wyman is often shown "framed" whether it be a mirror, window, doorway, etc. My favorite is the shot of her framed in the television which is presented to her as a future "companion".
And watch for a older Conrad Nagel in the film, playing the role of Harvey, Cary's would-be suitor.