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All That Heaven Allows

Secret Movie Club Presents: All That Heaven Allows & Imitation of Life

November 20, 2021

3 PM /  All That Heaven Allows Showtime

5: 15 PM / Imitation of Life Showtime

The Million Dollar Theater / Event Location


"We continue our THANKSGIVING CINEMA with a double feature of Douglas Sirk 1950's melodrama classics for which we're extremely grateful.

It's because of German born director Sirk, who found a way to somehow BOTH make crowd-pleasing melodramas that turned out to be incredibly subversive critiques of American society, that we have the middle period of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Fassbinder understood immediately (much quicker than many of his contemporaries) that Sirk's movies miraculously worked on two levels: the emotional AND the satirical. But Sirk's satire was so pointed. So barbed. So brutal. That no one saw it because he made sure to wrap it up in gorgeous technicolor, handsome actors, lush music. But it was there. The barbed wire wrapped in velvet.

First up, we screen All That Heaven Allows which dared, in the mid-1950's, to tell the story of a widowed middle aged woman who felt she had the right to have a sincere romance with a younger man. This of course shocks everyone from her family to her community and soon gossip, hypocrisy, and human cruelty make her life a living hell. Even though she's really done nothing wrong.

Gorgeously shot and performed, many folks missed the clear critique of small town American hypocrisy at its heart.

Next up is Sirk's towering Imitation of Life which pulls off the near impossible: it is both extremely sincere and heartfelt AND dangerously subversive. This is at the heart of Fassbinder cinema.

Here we get the story of two single mothers-one black and one white-who join together to raise their daughters and get through life. However, African American Annie's daughter, Sarah Jane, is able to pass for white. And as the movie progresses, this forms a central conflict as Sarah Jane more and more rejects her mother and her background because SOCIETY rejects her mother and her background.

A more brutal attack on the emotional violence American racism wrecked across countless families is hard to find in the 1950's. . .WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING.

Somehow Sirk, in the guise of a tearjerker melodrama, was able to hold up a mirror to America. And America didn't like what it saw. Because it had a long way to go.

Martin Scorsese among countless others have pointed out how important Sirk's cinema is to to what would come in the 1960's and 1970's.

Come watch three of his greatest movies. On 35mm. And if you want say for our screening of Scorsese's own subversive family melodrama in the guise of a gangster movie Casino."


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