For this week’s selection, I picked a pair of melodramas that had the word “Heaven” in it.

Wednesday Double Feature  a melodramatic slice of HeavenThe first film on my list, All THat Heaven Allows, directed by Douglas Sirk starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. Wyman plays Cary Scot, a well to do, but lonely widow living in a generic New England town. Her life consists of two college age children and some friends in her country club including some men who are interested in her but it does not provide any satisfaction.

In the meantime, she meets Ron Kirby (Hudson) her gardener. A strapping idealist who immediately draws her into his simple life style the two quickly fall in love. But just how long will the opinions of friends and family allow two people or different classes and ages stay together?

This film did an interesting job of looking under the rock of nineteen fifties realism and small town hypocrisy. I was especially drawn in by the Sirk’s use of the bright palette that technicolor provided him. A lot of this doesn’t age very well where a lot of things happening here feel very anachronistic to modern eyes.

Wednesday Double Feature melodramatic slice of human Far From HeavenMy next film Far From Heaven, directed by Todd Haynes, and starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert. Moore plays Cathy Whitaker a woman who seems to be the perfect fifties housewife. Her life begins to fall a part when her husband, Frank (Quaid) starts going to gay bars (and gets caught) and takes his frustration out on her. As the strain of her marriage begins to overwhelm her she is drawn to Raymond  (Haysbert )a handsome, and black, gardener.

This was a gorgeous film it’s interesting comparing how Haynes is doing his tribute to Sirk here. Sirk creates his palette based on the limitations of technicolor (in a way I found myself reminded of artists like N.C, Wyeth and Howard Pyle who had similar issues compensating for the limits of printing technology at the time. Haynes is mostly imitating Sirk’s style but has access to much better technology, so while is using the same bright color but it has a bit more range and subtly.

While these were both well done I’m afraid I really am not the target audience for this genre. So while I was certainly able to appreciate the craft, watching these was a bit of a chore. But certainly, don’t let my personal taste deter anyone.