"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Douglas Sirk’s 1955 masterpiece “All That Heaven Allows” using this Thoreau quote as its anthem to describe it's strong male character.  Sirk, a German émigré with a background in theater made a series of melodramatic Universal Studio technicolor films in the 1950s that were only later recognized as the brilliant subtle social and philosophical commentaries that they are.

All That Heaven Allows

by Douglas Sirk

Review of the film and Criterion DVD by Gary W. Tooze

Widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is pursued by distinguished elderly gentlemen but finds herself attracted to her Adonis-like pruning gardener, the much younger Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), who enchants her with his simplistic love of nature and indifference toward materialism. The abandoned mill in upstate New York where rugged Ron chooses to make his picturesque home, eventually the matrimonial home, is presented as an idyllic paradise with frolicking deer. Correspondingly Cary lives in a large house filled with the useless trappings of the times… even a television set is looming on the horizon for her to pass through her twilight years.


The inner depth of Ron’s character is conveyed through a close friend, describing him with heroic and earthy qualities that influence others. He aptly has little patience for her stuffy, catty, socialite Country Club friends and can never seem to bend from his principles. Cary has more trouble applying these lofty values to herself when her admonishing, grown children disapprove of her selection of a new husband. Being poorly influenced she impulsively calls off her engagement to Ron. The zenith point in the film is where Cary learns enough of herself to allow her own emotions to champion over idle gossip and be the final judge of her personal future. She finds the reasons behind her dismissal of the marriage as fleeting as her children’s whims.

Cary has learned from Ron: "To thine own self be true."

Sirk uses obvious techniques of character and plot development yet extreme subtlety to imbue his story’s depth always sustaining the clean polished appearance of the film. Cary’s social circles are seemingly breaking every infraction of decency with snide viper-tongued backstabbing to boorish wolf-like advances. Ron’s friends on the other hand, are simple, warm and the smiling and laughing never stops when their party gathering transpires. Either as a glorified soap opera or a witty critique on social stigma, Sirk achieves a high degree of success on both levels. One of the few films, both my wife and I can enjoy together… for totally different reasons.
Criterion have done it again: a perfect DVD in image, film and extras. This is another strong contender for a must-have category for any DVD collector.

Absolute perfection. out of

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Full Cast and Crew for
All That Heaven Allows (1955) 

Directed by 
Douglas Sirk 

Writing credits 
Peg Fenwick 
Edna L. Lee (story) 
Harry Lee (III) (story) 

Cast (in credits order) :

Jane Wyman .... Cary Scott 
Rock Hudson .... Ron Kirby 
Agnes Moorehead .... Sara Warren 
Conrad Nagel .... Harvey 
Virginia Grey .... Alida 
Gloria Talbott .... Kay 
William Reynolds (I) .... Ned 
Charles Drake (I) .... Mick Anderson 
Hayden Rorke .... Dr. Hennessy 
Jacqueline deWit .... Mona Plash 
Leigh Snowden .... Jo-Ann 
Donald Curtis .... Howard Hoffer 
Alex Gerry .... George Warren 
Nestor Paiva .... Manuel 
Forrest Lewis .... Mr. Weeks 
Tol Avery .... Tom Allenby 
Merry Anders .... Mary Ann 
rest of cast listed alphabetically 
Helen Andrews .... Myrtle (uncredited) 
Eleanor Audley .... Mrs. Humphrey (uncredited) 
Lillian Culver .... Mrs. Taylor (uncredited) 
Alan DeWitt .... Stationmaster (uncredited) 
Donna Jo Gribble .... Miss Taylor (uncredited) 
Jim Hayward .... John (uncredited) 
Helene Heigh .... Ann (uncredited) 
David Janssen (I) .... Freddie Norton (uncredited) 
Anthony Jochim .... Mr. Adams (uncredited) 
Paul Keast .... Mark Plash (uncredited) 
Joseph Mell .... Mr. Gow (uncredited) 
Vernon Rich .... Bill (uncredited) 
Gia Scala .... Manuel's Daughter (uncredited) 
Edna Smith .... Bit Part (uncredited) 
Paul Smith (II) .... Tom (uncredited) 
Rosa Turich .... Rozanna (uncredited) 

Produced by 
Ross Hunter (producer) 

Original music by 
Frank Skinner (I) 

Cinematography by 
Russell Metty 

Film Editing by 
Fred Baratta (uncredited) 
Frank Gross 

Art Direction by 
Alexander Golitzen 
Eric Orbom (I) (uncredited) 

Set Decoration by 
Russell A. Gausman 
Julia Heron 

Costume Design by 
Bill Thomas (I) (gowns) 

Makeup Department 
Joan St. Oegger .... hair stylist 
Bud Westmore .... makeup artist 

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director 
Joseph E. Kenney .... assistant director (as Joseph E. Kenny) 

Sound Department 
Leslie I. Carey .... sound 
Joe Lapis .... sound 

Other crew 
Jack Daniels .... dialogue director 
William Fritzsche .... color consultant: Technicolor 
Joseph Gershenson .... music supervisor 

Crew believed to be complete

Technical Information 
Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision Cinema
Theatrical Release Date: January 1, 1955
DVD Release Date: June 19, 2001
Run Time: 89 minutes
Production Company: Home Vision Cinema
Package Type: Keep Case

Aspect Ratio(s):
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.77:1

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 1
Layers: Dual
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Available subtitles: English
Collector's Edition

Edition Details:
  • Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
  • Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen
  • Behind The Mirror: A Profile of Douglas Sirk (1979) 
  • BBC documentary featuring rare interview footage with the director
  • "Imitation of Life: On the Films of Douglas Sirk": a seminal essay by Sirk admirer and filmmaker Rainer Fassbinder, illustrated with rare ephemera
  • A stills archive with production photos and vintage lobby cards
  • Exclusive liner notes by noted film theorist Laura Mulvey
  • Widescreen anamorphic format
  • ASIN: B00005BH23 

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