95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

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whaleallright
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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#76 Post by whaleallright » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:43 pm

Would you recommend Klinger's book as a good introductory text to Sirk?
Not really, because if I recall (it's been nearly a decade since I read it) it isn't about Sirk's life or career and it doesn't analyze the films in great detail. It's about how Sirk's 1950s Universal melodramas have been received in a variety of contexts--from their original popular reception to their uses in film criticism and academic film studies. It's an early and exemplary instance of "reception studies," if that sounds interesting to you.

I would recommend the Jon Halliday Sirk on Sirk volume, which I believe is out of print but can be found. Sirk is a fascinating guy, and it's not an easy book to put down. Halliday was one of the first critics to show such a great interest in his films, and Sirk obviously takes great pleasure in talking to another worldly and sophisticated man about films that had only just begun to be taken seriously by the film intelligentsia. Like I mentioned above, I think it's worthwhile to sometimes read Sirk's responses against the grain. But he hardly spends all the time flattering his interviewer; they have a few very telling disagreements.

Unfortunately there is still no English-language study of Sirk's career (!!), or even one that has a lot of research on his American films' production, style, etc. I've long thought that someone ought to do for Sirk what Lutz Bacher has done for Max Ophuls's American period (Sirk, btw, was a major fan of Ophuls's Hollywood films). There are a ton of articles about Sirk, but I'd have to have a bibliography handy to make recommendations!

First things first though: presuming you've seen the major American films, I would get a hold of, if you can, some of Sirk's German features (esp. Schlußakkord a.k.a. Final Accord, Zu neuen Ufern, and La Habanera.) Both the continuities and the differences between those films and his later American films are very instructive.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#77 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:33 pm

jonah.77 wrote:
Would you recommend Klinger's book as a good introductory text to Sirk?
Not really, because if I recall (it's been nearly a decade since I read it) it isn't about Sirk's life or career and it doesn't analyze the films in great detail. It's about how Sirk's 1950s Universal melodramas have been received in a variety of contexts--from their original popular reception to their uses in film criticism and academic film studies. It's an early and exemplary instance of "reception studies," if that sounds interesting to you.
Reception studies is one of my interests so thank you. Especially as it pertains to Sirk. The chapter on Hudson also looks helpful. Lutz Bacher's book looks quite good as well.


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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#79 Post by criterionsnob » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:07 pm

5/5 across the board on Blu-ray.com

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tenia
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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#80 Post by tenia » Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:27 am

Chris, I've just checked, and the "Contract kid" feature comes from the Carlotta 2-DVD release of All That Heaven Allows.
Carlotta released 3 boxsets of Sirk's movies (4 + 4 + 3 movies), and some of the material was also used by MoC for A Time To Love and A Time To Die and The Tarnished Angels.

Even if it's DVD only, the 1st volume remains today one of my most cherished purchase ever. And god was it expensive at the time (70€).

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#81 Post by cdnchris » Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:02 pm

Thanks! I couldn't figure out exactly where it came from and didn't want to assume.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#82 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:47 am

I watched All That Heaven Allows and found it interesting in a way that made me think of what were audiences saying about it in 1955. I think for many it was like watching porn. The story is immoral in their thinking but inwardly enjoyed and maybe even fantasized in the indulgence.

I did like the ending. It kicked the moral code of the public right in the tuchus. Just think if the movie continued. All the old bittys would be fired up and her son would miserable.

I watched Rock Hudson's home movie supplement and did not care for it. Surely a doc on his lifestyle would have been more interesting and perhaps more revealing than clips that were maybe or maybe not suggestive.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#83 Post by Drucker » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:44 am

I'm on vacation so can't write much about it now. However, the first time I watched ATHA, I didn't get the big deal about Sirk or the love for him here. Four years later, and it blew me away. What an emotionally beautiful film. Obviously it's one of the most gorgeous looking films in the collection, but the film itself is absolutely wonderful.

I am finally a Sirk convert.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#84 Post by Red Screamer » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:37 am

Drucker wrote:I'm on vacation so can't write much about it now. However, the first time I watched ATHA, I didn't get the big deal about Sirk or the love for him here. Four years later, and it blew me away. What an emotionally beautiful film. Obviously it's one of the most gorgeous looking films in the collection, but the film itself is absolutely wonderful.

I am finally a Sirk convert.
Three cheers for blu-ray!

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Gregory
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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#85 Post by Gregory » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:45 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:I watched All That Heaven Allows and found it interesting in a way that made me think of what were audiences saying about it in 1955. I think for many it was like watching porn. The story is immoral in their thinking but inwardly enjoyed and maybe even fantasized in the indulgence.
I wouldn't agree. On the whole, audiences loved the Wyman/Hudson pairing and rooted for them to be together and happy in spite of the taboos. Those taboos existed in the culture — older woman/younger man, and woman with more money/man with much less — along with biases about social class, but they could be overcome or at least put aside in the movie theater. Keep in mind that part of the reasons the taboos are such a problem in the film is that judgmental people and gossips don't take the romantic pairing seriously (while the sympathetic viewer does), so their conclusion is that Cary is only interested in Ron for sex and/or his looks, and Ron is mainly interested in Cary for her money. The children then worry about what people will say. But viewers tend to see that they're really in love and root for them to be united, and for the gossips and self-centered children to have to shut up and accept this. The viewer's resentment of the gossips and meddlers and selfish or entitled children, who don't appreciate the sacrifices the mother has made for them, is standard for this type of melodrama.

From the reviews I've read from the time of the film's release, the main criticism seemed to be that Cary was too weak and should have been more decisive. The Variety staff's review said they couldn't really understand what Ron would see in a widow when he could easily have a pretty girl his own age. Way to miss the whole point! So apparently the viewers couldn't always get past their own prejudices or completely believe in the characters' love for each other.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#86 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:18 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:I watched All That Heaven Allows and found it interesting in a way that made me think of what were audiences saying about it in 1955. I think for many it was like watching porn. The story is immoral in their thinking but inwardly enjoyed and maybe even fantasized in the indulgence.
I think Gregory's reading of audience interest sounds far more plausible. There's a false perception that just because studio products from the fifties were scrubbed fairly clean and more lascivious material only really leaked in as the decade progressed, that somehow audiences would have been "shocked" at films we're actively reading as transgressive now. All That Heaven Allows is extremely mild against, say, 1957's Peyton Place, which was sold more or less as an "Adult" adaptation of what was a very popular and dirty novel at the time. Audiences were reading vicious gossip rags about all their movie stars highlighting their alleged sexual perversions and to see any article from these popular magazines is enough to show that audiences of the day were far more primed for "naughtiness" than equating a rather genteel Sirk melodrama to porn would indicate

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#87 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:23 pm

Gregory wrote:
FrauBlucher wrote:I watched All That Heaven Allows and found it interesting in a way that made me think of what were audiences saying about it in 1955. I think for many it was like watching porn. The story is immoral in their thinking but inwardly enjoyed and maybe even fantasized in the indulgence.
I wouldn't agree. On the whole, audiences loved the Wyman/Hudson pairing and rooted for them to be together and happy in spite of the taboos. Those taboos existed in the culture — older woman/younger man, and woman with more money/man with much less — along with biases about social class, but they could be overcome or at least put aside in the movie theater.
That is more or less what I was trying to say. I wasn't suggesting audiences didn't like it, but more they couldn't relate even if they were "rooting" for Wyman/Hudson. How many of those folks in the audience in 1955 would be rooting for the neighbor who was in Cary's position? Probably not many.

I'm in full agreement with your overview.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#88 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:35 pm

domino harvey wrote:
FrauBlucher wrote:I watched All That Heaven Allows and found it interesting in a way that made me think of what were audiences saying about it in 1955. I think for many it was like watching porn. The story is immoral in their thinking but inwardly enjoyed and maybe even fantasized in the indulgence.
Audiences were reading vicious gossip rags about all their movie stars highlighting their alleged sexual perversions and to see any article from these popular magazines is enough to show that audiences of the day were far more primed for "naughtiness" than equating a rather genteel Sirk melodrama to porn would indicate
I definitely wasn't comparing Sirk's film to pornography. It was more of a reference to the viewer feeling challenged by something that is not part of their behavioral code. Besides pornography back then was not like porno today. :lol:

Audiences were primed for naughtiness as long as it was not in their backyard.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#89 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:32 pm

domino harvey wrote:Audiences were reading vicious gossip rags about all their movie stars highlighting their alleged sexual perversions and to see any article from these popular magazines is enough to show that audiences of the day were far more primed for "naughtiness" than equating a rather genteel Sirk melodrama to porn would indicate
This is a key antidote to most theories about the callowness of 50s audiences. Movies were artificially anodyne, thanks to the Hays Code, witchhunt paranoia and studio conservatism, but American popular culture as a whole was rife with material so lurid that much of it would shock modern audiences. Not to mention that Hollywood filmmakers since the 20s were well aware that audiences could fill in their studio-enforced ellipses with the basest filth quite readily. Sirk's trick in All That Heaven Allows is that he short-circuits 'Lubitsch touch' innuendo by attributing those inferences to the film's most unlovely characters while making it plain to the audience that nothing of the sort is actually occurring.

Further to this, I think some cinematic watersheds like the toilet in Psycho tend to be overstated. I don't think anybody in that audience was especially shocked to see a toilet ("omigod, what is THAT contraption?"), but it may have subliminally signalled that Hitchcock was going to play fast and loose with Hollywood codes. And any rule-breaking shock would have been instantly trumped by the far bigger violation of narrative etiquette that followed immediately afterwards, so it would have been kind of redundant anyway.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#90 Post by knives » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:42 pm

Also on that toilet front Leave it to Beaver had a (albeit non flushing) toilet before that.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#91 Post by AtlantaFella » Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:55 am

"Rock Hudson's Home Movies" is the single worst supplement I've endured on any title from any studio. Horrifically edited, cringe-worthy, mean-spirited, terrible internalized homophobia on parade. This was just embarrassing all around. Ugh.

Oh, and half an hour in there had been zero home movies... I couldn't tell you if any materialized later because I couldn't endure another moment of the relentless snark.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#92 Post by whaleallright » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:24 am

the title is something of a sly joke on the very (dubious IMO) idea on which the "film" rests, that by reading against the grain and focusing on fugitive moments, Hudson's very public film roles constitute a kind of revelation of his private life.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#93 Post by jsteffe » Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:21 pm

I'm sympathetic to Rappaport's political goals behind that and his Jean Seberg film (From the Journals of Jean Seberg), but I really disliked how the Seberg film was done. To be specific - he didn't just create a film-essay analyzing her films against her biography, he literally imposed his voice over her persona. I found it both misleading and too obvious in its ideas. I haven't bothered to watch the Rock Hudson film, since I'm expecting more of the same.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#94 Post by AtlantaFella » Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:54 pm

jsteffe wrote:...he literally imposed his voice over her persona. I found it both misleading and too obvious in its ideas.
I have not seen the Seberg film but this does sound like a precise description of the Hudson travesty. Heh heh -- we are each hereby forewarned against the other.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#95 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:02 pm

I discussed the Seberg doc earlier in this thread but rest assured it's crudely executed and Rappaport pretty blithely twists his examples to fit false conclusions to the point that I suspect he didn't believe many in his intended audience could/would ever have seen some of his examples, which just adds a new layer of insult

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#96 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:03 pm

Just saw All That Heaven Allows on Blu & really enjoyed this; what a truly poignant & touching film. I readily admit that this is my first Douglas Sirk film; I'm not a huge fan of 1950's movies, especially not melodramas like this. However, since it was on Blu, I decided to make an exception - and am glad I did.

Though a younger guy/older woman pairing is so commonplace these days that the associated slang has become part of our language (i.e., MILF, Cougar, etc.), it's obvious that in 1955, this was considered taboo - at least in the "upper class" society that the widow (Jane Wyman) was part of & associated with.

I was surprised at the ending -
SpoilerShow
I was almost certain that the Rock Hudson character would die....but, I think ending it the way it did worked well.
I was also amused that 40-year old Harvey - who was briefly dating the Jane Wyman character in the beginning - was considered "over the hill" by the daughter :lol:

Also was impressed by the fact that even though this was a 1950's melodrama, there was not one false note or sappy moment - every iota of this film rang true & IMHO was very realistic; even today, some people have issues with their families/friends if they want to marry someone that is not at least their "equal" from a social/financial level....

I also wanted to mention how impressive the color was on this Blu! Another reason I don't like many 1950's color films is the technicolor, since i usually find it overly saturated & fake-looking. However, even though the color in ATHA was somewhat oversaturated, the color was stunning & vivid - superb!

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#97 Post by TraverseTown » Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:20 am

AnamorphicWidescreen wrote: I was surprised at the ending -
SpoilerShow
I was almost certain that the Rock Hudson character would die....but, I think ending it the way it did worked well.
SpoilerShow
Can't claim this is fact, but knowing Sirk, this was a studio-imposed ending. So if he couldn't kill Hudson, he implies that he is irreparably damaged.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#98 Post by whaleallright » Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:58 pm

it's obvious that in 1955, this was considered taboo
I would be cautious in drawing conclusions about historical social norms from a film, particularly one made in a genre that has its own conventions of fairly long standing.

That said, I think a romance between a middle-aged woman and a twenty-something man is still likely to raise eyebrows, even if it's not necessarily a taboo.

My impression was that in the film, the objection to Cary and Ron's romance has less to do with the age difference than with the general sense that a middle-aged widow, one with grown children no less, is not supposed to be a sexual creature with desires that deserve fulfillment. If I recall, it's this aspect that many in Cary's milieu, including her daughter, find distasteful. Indeed, contemporary terms like "MILF" and "cougar," with their tinge of the outré, suggest that such biases continue.

In Sirk on Sirk, a book of edited interviews with Jon Halliday, he talks about the ending of All That Heaven Allows and claims not to have been invested in the "happy ending," which was indeed done at the urging of Universal. In particular, he writes about competing interpretations of the film's title. To most people, it's hopeful, holding out the possibility of happiness for Wyman and Hudson's characters. But Sirk said that in his opinion, "Heaven is stingy"--meaning they likely won't be permitted that happiness.

It's worth taking Sirk's stated opinions in that book with a grain of salt, since I suspect that to a certain extent, he was eager to flatter what was then a growing understanding of his films as fundamentally "ironic," even cynical. I'm not always convinced that the attitudes Sirk expresses in those 1970s-era interviews necessarily reflect his thinking at the time the films were made. But I definitely think the ending of All That Heaven Allows can sustain contrasting opinions of what will become of Cary and Ron.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#99 Post by Gregory » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:15 pm

In Sirk on Sirk, I remember him talking about the "happy ending" requirement and how he saw the title in a different (less optimistic) light than the studio did, but I don't remember him discussing the ATHA ending much specifically or it being forced by the studio. I always figured that it came straight from the source novel and that it was never an issue for Sirk because he maintained his own conception of the material. Even though "heaven" may be "stingy," I don't see any indication that Ron and Cary will be completely unhappy, just that they will have new problems to face—as a couple—including the lingering worry that Cary may have compromised Ron's chosen way of living. But that's still an ambiguous ending. Considering Ron and Cary's future together, despite the problems they will face they could very well both be better off than they would have been in any other outcome of the story. Ron's mentor Thoreau had an amazingly appealing philosophy of living, but as eloquent and inspiring as his writings on solitude and self-reliance are, he was by all accounts an emotionally distant person, and even outside of the 2+ years at Walden pond his way of living didn't seem to leave any room for sharing any of it with another person. ATHA suggests that even though Ron is happy in his daily life and doesn't want to compromise, he also wants to be with Cary. So he is, and again that introduces new issues, but I'm not convinced that the happy ending is in reality a completely unhappy ending.

I'd also argue that Sirk was never cynical about his Hollywood films, but all along he had no illusions about what artistic compromises he was making. He understood that a studio had to make money, and that if a story was essentially bad, there were still things he could do to within that material that, on its surface, was formulaic or even trashy. So he didn't have a private reserve of disdain for the films he was making but rather could use his freedom with camerawork and editing to make them work on multiple registers at once, and all along I believe he had a sense of hating it and loving it at the same time, as he puts it in Sirk on Sirk.
Anyone new to Sirk's work who want to see him work in a different mode, which succeeds in openly avoiding the happy ending, should check out The Tarnished Angels.

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Re: 95-96 All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind

#100 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:52 pm

Gregory wrote:Anyone new to Sirk's work who want to see him work in a different mode, which succeeds in openly avoiding the happy ending, should check out The Tarnished Angels.
I'd also recommend There's Always Tomorrow, my favourite Sirk, where the ending is clearly the only one that a studio could countenance, and yet Sirk invests it with such melancholy and complexity that it's totally shattering. I think it's the clearest example of how Sirk operates. Far from being any kind of compromise, the 'studio-imposed' ending, and how Sirk deals with it, is essential to the film's emotional power. Life itself can be a string of Hays Code compromises.

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