Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

All That Heaven Allows (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

All That Heaven Allows (1955)

In Douglas Sirk's melodramatic, glossy Technicolored soap opera about a doomed May-December relationship in the conservative Eisenhower Era of the mid-1950s, in the confining and artificially-proper society of a suburban town (Stoningham) in New England:

  • during the opening title credits, there was a symbolic, high-angle camera shot of a piercing, stiff spire of a New England church rising above an 'ideal' Americana town
  • fortyish, middle-class, affluent widowed Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) (with her children away except on weekends) was being urged by her well-meaning neighbor Sara Warren (Agnes Moorehead) to socially date and find 'formal' companionship, possibly with an older, prosperous but uninteresting country club member named Harvey (Conrad Nagel), a stable but hypochondriac bachelor
  • meanwhile, Cary began to establish a strong friendship with her handsome, self-assured and calm, younger, back-to-nature, self-reliant, non-conformist gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson) - their relationship, considered increasingly troubling because of his blue-collar status, became the scandalizing subject of snobby, judgmental, upper-crust gossip mongerers in town, led by Mona Plash (Jacqueline de Wit)
  • in an early discussion, Cary's bookish, social-worker daughter Kay (Gloria Talbott) talked about the "old Egyptian custom" of entombing widows: "Of walling up the widow alive in the funeral chamber of her dead husband along with all of his other possessions. The theory being that she was a possession too, so she was supposed to journey into death with him. And the community saw to it that she did. Course that doesn't happen anymore" - although Cary retorted: "Doesn't it? Well, perhaps not in Egypt"
  • Cary's relationship with Ron intensified after she visited at his rustic greenhouse cabin, viewed his silver-tipped spruce trees - and fell into his arms for an unexpected kiss; later, she also met some of his uninhibited, non-conformist friends, including ex-suburbanites Mick and Alida Anderson (Charles Drake and Virginia Grey) at a joyful party at their house; she learned they had sought to follow Henry David Thoreau's advice to be out of step with society and live off the land
  • gossip surrounding Cary's and Ron's relationship included two falsehoods - that they had been romantically involved before her husband died, and that he was only interested in her money; Cary's two grown children also disapproved of the idea of their mother's new relationship with someone 'beneath' her
  • at a country club cocktail party, Cary and Ron were subjected to snide comments (Ron was called "nature boy"), snubs, stares, and unwelcome advances from married member Howard Hoffer (Donald Curtis) who tried to passionately kiss her - implying that she was a tease
  • in a decisive scene, Cary suggested to Ron that they suspend their love affair (and his proposal to get married) due to repressive community pressure and ostracizing (about her socially unacceptable choice): "Ron, we're gonna have to wait to get married. Well... to give the children a chance to get used to the idea. They'll feel differently when they know you better....I'm just asking you to be patient. It's only a question of time....Right now everybody's talking about us - we're a local sensation. And like Sara said, if the people get used to seeing us together, then maybe they'll accept us...It's only for a little while, and it would make things so much easier"
  • Ron was resistant to her suggestion about having their lives ruled by others: "I'm sorry Cary, but it wouldn't work. I can't live that way. You knew that from the beginning....God knows I love you, but I won't let Ned nor Kay nor anyone else run our lives. Cary, don't you see we could never be happy if we did?... Cary, you're the one that made it a question of choosing. So you're the one that'll have to choose" - she made a quick decision and chose her need for social acceptance over her love for him: "All right. It's all over"
  • later in a related scene to the one earlier about Egyptian customs, there was a paired metaphoric shot of Cary appearing isolated, 'entombed' and trapped inside her house as she looked out of her window at Christmas festivities
Cary's Christmas Gift of a TV with Red Ribbon From Her Grown Children
  • shortly later, a despondent Cary (suffering from recurring headaches) was presented with a Christmas gift from her grown children, self-centered and stuffy Princeton student Ned (William Reynolds) and Kay - an ironic consolation prize and substitute for having lost the love of her life, and to keep her company; both of her children would soon be leaving her life: Kay was engaged to be married, and Ned was going to study and work abroad in Paris
  • the gift her children had given her was a brand new table-model TV set (adorned with red ribbons) - it was chosen to keep her company - she saw her chilling, solitary glassy reflection framed (enclosed and trapped) on the blank and empty TV screen as the salesman pointed at it and told her: "All you have to do is turn that dial and you have all the company you want right there on the screen - drama, comedy, life's parade at your fingertips"
  • by film's end, Cary and Ron were ultimately reconciled and brought back together when Cary visited Ron again at his house - an old mill that he had converted into a home for them; but when she approached the door, she hesitated and hurriedly drove off; from a distance, Ron (who was out hunting) saw her and rushed to call to her, but slipped on snow and fell over a cliff - and suffered a severe head concussion
  • later that night, Cary was told by Alida that Ron was unconscious after an accident and she was driven to his cabin; while she waited for Ron to regain consciousness, she admired the beauty of his home that he had built for her and decided to no longer run away; the next morning when he woke up, he saw her and assuringly told her: "You've come home" - and she responded: "Yes, darling, I've-I've come home."

Opening Credits

Gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson)

Ron with Cary (Jane Wyman)

Cary - Trapped Inside Her House - Like the "old Egyptian custom"

Ron's Old Mill Converted Into a Home

Cary at Ron's Place - Contemplating Whether to Go In or Not

Injured Ron Waking Up After a Concussion: "You've come home"

Cary to Ron: "Yes, darling, I've-I've come home."


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