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.
The surprising thing is that I didn't watch Christmas Carol (1938). I have an annual tradition of reading the classic Dickens book (this one is the best edition) and viewing the original film. This year I skipped both. I felt like this was by no means a traditional Christmas, so I kept to non-traditional movies instead.
Dr. No (1962) ~ My introduction to the world of Bond, James Bond.
Get Smart (2008) ~ What a disappointment!
The Naked City (1948) ~ Excellent! A post about this is sure to come.
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) ~ Dennis Morgan! ::sigh::
Love, Actually (2003) ~ Dip it in yogurt, and cover it with chocolate buttons!
Holiday Affair (1949) ~ It's a Mitchum Christmas.
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) ~ One of the sexiest films I've seen, ever!
Fortune Cookie (1966) - It's great, once you get through the first 30 minutes.
Breathless (1961) ~ Working on an essay for this one.
Bachelor Mother (1939) ~ And I'll watch it next week too!
It often feels like there are hundreds of "Heaven" movies. Perhaps because there are also so many contemporary ones. However, there are really only 5 main ones (and various lesser-known ones). And they are...
- All This, and Heaven Too (1940) - Bette Davis & Charles Boyer
- All That Heaven Allows (1956) - Rock Hudson & Jane Wyman
- Heaven Can Wait (1943) - Gene Tierney & Don Ameche
- Heaven Knows, Mrs. Allison (1957) - Robert Mitchum & Deborah Kerr
- Leave Her to Heaven (1946) - Gene Tierney & Cornel Wilde
I'm going to guess that Ginger's favorite is #5? Seeing as it has her favorite actress plus her current crush.
Stay tuned for more!
His eyes were sad, slightly bulbous with drooping eyelids. It gave him a brooding and melancholy appearance. His face was heart-shaped, square and broad at the brow, narrowing on its way down to the chin. His nose had a smooth forward slope that broke off in the middle into a downward slant. His lips were soft and flat and almost unremarkable until he broke it out into one of his rare smiles that were as charming as they were alarming. And the piece de resistance, the dimple. Oh that wonderful little dimple planted just perfectly in the middle of his chin. While Cary Grant's chin looked like a women's derriere, Mitchum's chin looks like an angel had touched it and left the dimple in its stead. It was just glorious. Robert Mitchum's look was a kind unto its own.
So when I was chatting away at the party, swirling a glass of sauvignon blanc in my hand, Kevin alerted me to the fact that Robert Mitchum's doppelganger stood directly behind me. I was excited to see him but was skeptical too. I was casual about it and slowly scanned the room until I spotted him. I'm sure my eyes must have widened with surprise when they fell upon his face. He was the young, contemporary, fresh-faced version of Robert Mitchum. The heart-shaped face, the sad eyes, the broken nose, they were all there. The lips were thin and weak and there was no dimple but alas we can't have it all. I looked away, slightly embarassed but terribly intrigued.
As the party progressed, I met various people, all of them friendly yet none of them looked quite like a movie star the way he did, with the exception of one very pleasant woman who had a passing resemblance to a young Goldie-Hawn. And at one point I was told I looked like Rose-McGowan. Then I met the Robert Mitchum look-a-like. Kevin introduced me to him and we shook hands. He was quite striking to look at but his young masculine bravado was a bit off-putting. Kevin managed to work in the name "Robert Mitchum" and the film Out of the Past (1947) in to the conversation, albeit briefly, and he seemed to have not noticed the references. I wonder if he knew who Robert Mitchum was at all. This young man may very well be oblivious to the fact that he carries with him the face of a legendary screen star. Or he might have not been listening very intently to the conversation because it was evident that he had had a few beers at that point. It was his ever-reddening eyes that betrayed him.
The eyes. I have to elaborate on those. They were pretty fixed on Kevin as he was the one of interest in the conversation. Yet ever so often they would travel to my eyes and then, with a lack of grace or even rudimentary shame, to my decolletage. I was slightly unsettled by these glances but I would expect such attentions from an ambitious, young, hot-blooded professional man. Especially one who had been drinking. I thought to myself, "would Robert Mitchum have looked at my decolletage?" And my answer was, "of course he would!" Mitchum appreciated the ladies but he would have been much more sly about it. His eyes would have had the appearance of looking at mine while the whole time they were really looking at a region further below. Or the glances would have occurred when my eyes were turned away, so I wouldn't have noticed. Robert Mitchum was smooth not obvious, unlike his contemporary.
A few words were then spoken and we parted with Robert Mitchum's look-a-like. Thoughts reeled through my head, aided by the wine and I knew that I had to share such a story with my fellow classic film fans. And with Kevin, who enjoyed the encounter as much as I did.
Additional note: The Cary Grant comment comes from Marc-Eliot's biography of the actor. I didn't make it up, no matter how much I wish I did.
- Clark Gable as Captain Gaskell - A sharp-tongued but soft-hearted sea captain.
- Jean Harlow as Dolly Portland - The blonde-haired floozy who's got it bad for her toots, Gaskell.
- Rosalind Russell as Mrs. Barclay - The uppity widower who traveled far to woo Gaskell again.
- Robert Benchley as Charlie McCaleb - The perpetually drunk author who hasn't got a clue.
- Lewis Stone as Tom Davids - The disgraced officer given another chance to prove himself.
- Wallace Beery as Jamesy - The ruthless pirate leader who is smitten with Dolly.
- Hattie McDaniel as Isabel - Dolly's fashionable and straight-talking maid.
~ Joan Blondell ~
~ Susan Peters ~
~ Bette Davis ~
~Ruby Keeler ~
~ Doris Day ~
~ Jean Harlow ~
~ Kim Novak ~
~ Marilyn Monroe ~
~ Bonita Granville ~
~ Ginger Rogers ~
~ Jean Seberg ~
~ Jean Hagen ~
~ Caroll Baker ~
~ Shirley MacLaine ~
~ Amy Adams ~
~ Samantha Morton ~
~ Romola Garai ~
(thanks Jonas for the photo of Ludivine!)
I'll tag Jonas of All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!, Ginger of Asleep in New York, Carrie of Classic Montgomery, CK Dexter Haven of Hollywood Dreamland and Sarah of Cinema Splendor. Not so much as a tag, more like a smack. Hee hee. Have fun!
After I wrote my Buyer's Guide: Books for Classic Film Fans post, I got to thinking. As a classic film fan, what would I want for Christmas? Apart from DVDs and books that is. What other items in the form of coolness are there out there for me to enjoy? And of course, I came up with a list.
I could wear it just like Jean Seberg did in Breathless (1960). Now all I need is a ticket to Paris and I could walk down the Champs D'Elysees and my Jean-Paul Belmondo would approach me offering me a trip to Italy. Yup. That's realistc right?
I picked up a set of these at my local Bob Slate Stationery store (not at B&N) and fell in love with them. I gave them out as birthday cards to many friends and now that I'm running low, I need some more! These cards are the perfect excuse for me to practice my 1920's slang.
I've always loved this image of Grace Kelly behind a very tall glass of champagne. It's elegant and beautiful. And since I enjoy acquiring new magnets, this would be a perfect addition to my fridge collection.
Jean Harlow Bottle Cap Charm @ Etsy
Etsy is the best. Full of beautiful handmade items sold by the folks who made them. There are a lot of things here that would catch the eye of any classic film fan. It's all fun stuff like jewelry, magnets, cigarette cases, etc.
The United States Postal Service sure loves classic films. With Frank Sinatra and Bette Davis recently honored with stamps, classic film fans are sure to find something they want in the USPS store. And right now I would love to sit down and work on this Humphrey Bogart puzzle!
TCM Khaki Fleece Blanket @ TCM's Boutique
The office I work at is very cold. And since my work area is already plastered with classic film memorabilia, why not add to it a nice warm fleece blanket? It's dual purpose. Warmth and decoration. Plus plus. And I could also warm up with some tea in a TCM mug too!
It's to add to my collection of Marilyn Monroe T-shirts. Which is right now at 5. Yes that's right. I have 5 Monroe shirts. I am a dork. And to perpetuate my dorkiness, I need this extra-cool shirt NOW.
Regular Membership @ The Brattle Theatre
I love this theatre and my friend Kevin got me this membership as a Christmas present. Yay! What's better than supporting a local independent theatre that continually showcases excellent films? It's the gift that keeps on giving.
I absolutely adore Unique Vintage. They have retro-ware inspired by eras from the 1920's to the 1950's. It's all sexy and fun and new (in an old way). This particular dress looks straight out of a 1940's film.
Synopsis: Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) is a widower with a young son, Timmy, and a divorce lawyer boyfriend, Carl (Wendell Cory). She leads a quiet life until she meets Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum), a department store clerk that catches her at her game when she's comparison shopping for a rival store. When Steve doesn't report Connie, he gets fired and the two keep running ino each other in different circumstances. Connie finds herself in a love square. Committed to Carl, yearning for Steve yet still mourning her dead husband.
People often talk about the meaning of Christmas. And in my opinion, they always get it wrong. To me, Christmas is about change. It takes place around the time of the Winter Solstice when we leave behind Fall and head into the depths of Winter. When the days cease getting shorter and start getting longer. And for many religious folks, it's when a certain baby was born bringing hope and change into the world. Christmas is a time of introspection and reflection. New Year's follows shortly after and during Christmas we are already thinking of those changes we want to implement in the new year.
Connie Ennis doesn't want things to change. She wants everything to go back to how it use to be when her husband was still alive. She craves safety, security and consistency. Especially after the traumatic and life-changing experience of losing her husband during the war and having to face raising her son by herself. When a new person, Steve Mason, comes into her life that sense of consistency is threatened. Even though she could be happy with Steve, letting him in would take her out of her comfort zone, something she's not ready to do.
My favorite scene in this movie comes towards the end. Connie needs to return some money to Steve. Her son Timmy had exchanged the train Steve had given him for Christmas so that Steve could use the money for train fare. Connie is scared to confront Steve and her boyfriend Carl sees this. He realizes he'll never have her and they "divorce". Now free, Connie willingly goes up to Steve's apartment. And this is what he says to her on learning that she and Carl are no longer together:
I guess that's my cue to propose again. But I'm not going to... Carl isn't the real threat to me. Maybe I'm not to him. This isn't two fellas and a girl. It's two fells, a girl and her husband. I can't fight a shadow. I tried, the competition's too tough. You were even going to play it safe and settle for someone you didn't love so you wouldn't be unfaithful to your husband... All anyone wants you to do is live in the present and not be afraid of the future. And maybe it can happen again if you quit pretending something that's dead is still alive."
Steve Mason is one of my favorite all-time characters just because he's so wise. He realizes that even though Connie is free from Carl, she's not free from the ghost of her late husband. If Connie is going to be with Steve, she needs to accept change, embrace it even. She needs to move forward with her life, even if it means taking a risk.
We are headed for very uncertain times in 2009. Contemplating now those changes that are currently happening or those that lay ahead, we need to be willing to accept and adapt. We can't cling to the past. We need to be willing to move into the future and to take a risk, any risk, because that might mean a chance at happiness down the road. It's going to be a tough Christmas. But not one without hope.
Ernie: The Autobiography
Don't listen to those reviewers who panned this. Eliot's biography of the late, great Jimmy Stewart is comprehensive and well-written. You will learn more than you will ever need to know of the man who made "Auw shucks" sexy.
For the Woman in Your Life
For the Man in Your Life
This is a juicy no holds barred of the life and times of the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. Gable was truly a man's man and reading about his exploits is just fun. Not for the faint of heart.
For Younger Kids
For Older Kids
Fiction for Classic Film Lovers
Just Buy It Okay?
I know this isn't a book, but I had to mention it anyways. This is the best Classic Film calendar there is. I buy it religiously every year and have gotten it as a gift. It's a must-have.
Support the book industry. Buy books as presents this Christmas. And support your local independent bookstore. All links above are to the well-known and respected independent Powell's Books.