I had previously seen the original Magnificent Obsession starring Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne which I liked. I decided to finally watch the remake starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson which I loved. I then decided to seek out the next movie they did together called All that Heaven Allows.
Sigh. Both films were directed by Douglas Sirk. From the movies I have seen of his, Sirk has a beautiful, empathic way he directs his actors and gets the script to come alive on film. He is defintely from my point of view an Actor's Director. His movies are colorful and heartfelt.
In Magnificent Obsession(1954), Rock Hudson plays playboy Bob Merrick. He is rich, handsome and self involved. One day, his act of having fun causes an accident which has the only resusciator in the county to be used on him, while meanwhile a beloved doctor who needed it as well ends up dying. That doctor turns out to be the husband of Jane Wyman's character Helen Phillips. In a meaner twist of fate, Bob ends up at the doctor's clinic. There he finally finds out Dr. Phillips death happened indirectly because of him. Bob, upset, leaves the hospital and winds up being picked up half sick by, you guessed it, Helen Phillips. He becomes infauted with Helen, that infatuation leads to love. Now, I'm leaving out major plot points here, because to tell you anymore will ruin it for you. The term Magnificent Obsession has a double meaning which you find out at the end.
What made the film for me was the chemistry between Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. The push and pull which eventually leads to love was wonderful to watch. I totally believed them and could feel the energy between them on screen. I have to add extra note to the wonderful Agnes Moorehead, who plays Helen's friend. She is great in this. Agnes Moorehead is famous for her role of Endora in Bewitched. She was so good in this film, that I'm sure that is why she cast again with Jane and Rock, for what I call their reunion film, All that Heaven Allows.
All that Heaven Allows (1955) is a different film. We have Rock and Jane again playing lovers again with a different angst this time. Jane Wyman plays Cary Scott, a widow, who falls the younger and less socially affluent gardener, Ron Kirby. Agnes Moorehead plays her sympathetic Sara. This time the stakes are higher than Magnificent Obsession. What remains the same is Douglas Sirk's beautiful direction and that brimming chemistry between Rock and Jane. To the point, when people keep pointing out the age difference between them, I hardly notice it. All I see is two people desperately in love with each other. There was a homage remake to All that Heaven Allows called Far From Heaven starring Julianne Moore, which is good, on it's own merit.
Ideally, I say watch these movies on two consecutive days. Or if you want to be daring back to back. They are old fashioned melodramatic romantic movies. If you have never seen neither movie, you are in for a treat. For my Romantic movies fans, it is perfect to watch. For me, Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman are my new classic movie couple. I wish they had did more movies together.
You can watch Magnificent Obsession here
And All that Heaven Allows here