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USA 1953
Directed by
Douglas Sirk
79 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

All I Desire

in being set at the turn of the century All I Desire, he first of Douglas Sirk's classic collaborations with producer Ross Hunter is stylistically atypical but thematically the subject matter of an independent woman struggling to determine her own identity in the face of middle class conformism is the kind of subject matter for which today he is remembered.

Barbara Stanwyck is in her element as Naomi Murdoch, an errant mother, who having abandoned her bland husband, Henry (Richard Carlson), three children and small town life many years previously for a showbiz career that never happened, returns to see her daughter’s high school graduation play and as a result comes to re-evaluate the life she abandoned.

Based on the novel 'Stopover' by Carol Brink and adapted for the screen by Robert Blees, James Gunn and Gina Kaus, All I Desire is an economical story that neatly opposes its characters along the virtue/vice axis. For the most part this works although the Dutch Heinemann character (played by Lyle Bettger) is a little too caddish to convince as the man with whom she had an affair years earlier. Naomi is, after, all no good time girl and there is no apparent reason why she would have found Dutch so irresistible

Apparently Hunter forced a happy ending on the narrative however, ideological shifts aside, this does not spoil the tone of the film since Naomi’s choice is her own and her spouse is given some credit for manning up and facing-off the town’s clucking disapproval. Although the director’s colour extravaganzas like Written On The Wind (1956) are more valued these days, their contemporary settings being more suited to the critique of middle-class manners and mores which typify his films of the 1950s, All I Desire lays out the guideposts for what followed.




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