95. All That Heaven Allows

In ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, Jane Wyman plays a widow in a conformist suburban town whose gardener just happens to be Rock Hudson. It should come as no surprise that they eventually fall in love, although it does seem to surprise everyone else in the film, from her catty neighbors to her selfish children. Not only is Rock Hudson much younger than her, but he also leads a modest bohemian lifestyle in the woods, and doesn’t believe in the opinions of others, a lesson that Wyman is slow to learn. The film is straight up melodrama, full of predictable clichés and bordering on the schmaltzy. (One of my favorite scenes is the magical Hudson feeding a deer in the snow!) But the Hollywood sheen masks the social indictment at the heart of the story. And the treatment is so beautiful, with rich colors and careful framing, it made me want to have my own Thoreau moment in the countryside.


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