Tim Purtell
June 15, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS; WRITTEN ON THE WIND

ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman (1955, Criterion, 89 mins., unrated, $39.95, new to DVD) WRITTEN ON THE WIND Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall (1956, Criterion, 99 mins., unrated, $29.95, new to DVD) Boiling over with heated acting and schmaltzy scores, Douglas Sirk’s ’50s melodramas tap neatly into our collective trash psyche. Penetrate the surface, however, and they’re as serious and heartfelt as their director was. Heaven, ostensibly a sudser about a widow (Wyman) and her gardener (Hudson), is a sharply observed indictment of country-club conformity. Similarly, the thrillingly over-the-top Wind, which pits Hudson and Bacall against a rich Texas-oil drunk (Robert Stack) and his nympho sister (Dorothy Malone), uncovers the bleakness beneath America’s postwar boom. In both films, Sirk uses the medium as shrewdly as Hitchcock, telegraphing themes and emotion through color and lighting and symbolic set decor, made stunningly clear in new digital transfers. While neither DVD boasts remarkable extras, a 1979 interview on the Heaven disc with Sirk (who died in 1987) is so insightful you wish he could come back to provide commentary. Heaven: B+ Wind: A

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