The Greatest Stories Ever Told

The 2010 Paramount Summer Film Classics

The Greatest Stories Ever Told

Self-Sacrifice for Kin: 'All That Heaven Allows'

Cary (Jane Wyman), a well-to-do widow of a certain age, tries to do all the right things that society and her family expect of her after her husband dies. But there is something ... you know ... missing from her life. Like a man. Before she resorts to liquor and vibrators, her prissy college-aged children arrive home. Their plans for Mom's future include a television set to keep her occupied until she passes away, possibly decades later. What else could she possibly need? She has a lovely home, doting children, and a TV! But she doesn't want a TV. She wants the nonconformist gardener, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). But her children and her friends, thinking she has taken leave of her senses, put their collective feet down. Madame herself does not know what to think of it all – she knows everyone else is right, but she can't help thinking about her Ron. In a concession to all the chitchat, Cary breaks it off with Ron because her son is embarrassed and her daughter got teased by her friends about her mother being a cougar. So Cary settles down to a life of dreary solitude, her "doting" children, and television. But when the son gets the chance to study abroad and her daughter gets married, Cary finds herself alone again ... naturally. Thank God that gardener Ron is still lurking around his greenhouse, and there's still a chance for love and happiness. The clear moral of the story is that it simply doesn't pay to sacrifice everything for your children and that your family will always let you down. A theme explored in many movies, the mother of all self-sacrificial movies is Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford. Eve Arden's character in Mildred Pierce nails the theory when she says in a tone that's sharper than a serpent's tooth: "Alligators have the right idea. They eat their young."


All That Heaven Allows screens Tuesday, July 6, 7pm, and Wednesday, July 7, 9:30pm.

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