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Tag Archives: Douglas Sirk

All That Heaven Allows

Image Credit: All That Heaven Allows, 1955

Although not typically thought of as a Christmas flick, the second I watched All That Heaven Allows (Disc) during a Douglas Sirk Deep Dive last summer, I knew I had to cover it in December. If you’re ever paranoid you’ve chosen a terrible Christmas present for your mom, reassure yourself with this movie. I promise, whatever it is, it’s nowhere near as bad as what Cary Scott’s adult children send to her doorstep.

To be fair, a television is not a terrible gift on its own. But when you’re A) refusing to spend Christmas with your sad, widowed mother, and B) have driven off the only hope of happiness this woman has for your own puritanical, selfish reasons, this television is the insult to end all insults. It says to her, “We know that you live alone. Here’s something to distract you until you eventually die alone.”  I’ve previously lamented the terrible children in classic Christmas movies (see Holiday Affair); however, the college-aged offspring in this one are actually The Worst. All Cary (Jane Wyman) wants to do is find a little joy after losing her husband. She happens to find it with a man nine years her junior (a flannel-loving Rock Hudson), but before she even has a chance to finish one martini, her friends and family lose their collective sh*t. Cary yearns for the freedom to love who she wants, and it takes the mother of all insulting Christmas gifts for her to realize she’s strong enough to tell ‘em all to go to hell. She wants Rock, she wants that flannel, and she does not want a television.

This is definitely a martini-heavy flick (it was the ‘50s after all…), so I’m thrilled to highlight a favorite holiday cocktail of mine. It’s strong, it’s flavorful, and best of all, it’s easy. While watching All That Heaven Allows, I recommend this Cozy Cabin Martini.

Cozy Cabin Martini

2 oz Gin

¾ oz Ginger Liqueur

½ oz Lime Juice

2 sprigs Rosemary

Muddle a sprig of Rosemary in the bottom of a shaker with lime juice. Add Ginger Liqueur, Gin, and ice. Shake well, and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.

All That Heaven Allows inspired another movie I recently enjoyed (Far From Heaven), and both are fantastic picks if you want to get swept up in a domestic drama featuring cocktails and gorgeous ‘50s dresses. But if I have to pick a favorite, it would be this Douglas Sirk masterpiece. It may not be overtly “Christmas-y”, but it reminds me of what I’m most thankful for every time this holiday rolls around- love, and a child-free life. Cheers!

Far From Heaven

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Image credit: Far From Heaven, 2002.

In many ways, I owe the existence of Cinema Sips to this week’s film, Far From Heaven (Disc/Download). When I had the idea seven years ago to start writing about films and cocktails, it was based on the image of Julianne Moore in a perfect pastel 1950s dress, pouring a pitcher of daiquiris for her girlfriends in the middle of the day. That, right there, was the life I wanted for myself. Unfortunately, I (and most of my girlfriends) have day jobs. There are no lunchtime daiquiris, and most of us live in different states at this point. But what if we could all watch a movie, make a cocktail, and feel like we were together? And what if I could share the experience with the whole world? Just like that, Cinema Sips was born.

It’s no shock that I adore this movie, since I’ve raved on here before about my love of the ’50s melodrama. From Douglas Sirk films like Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows, to Sirk-adjacent picks like Peyton Place and A Summer Place, I simply cannot get enough of beautiful facades hiding the torrid scandals of a soap opera. Every detail of Todd Haynes’ homage to vintage melodramas is perfection, from the tailored dresses, to the stellar production design, to the script that touches on everything from racism to homosexual shame to domestic violence. You see, even though these characters exist in an idyllic world of brightly colored autumn leaves and silk party dresses, beneath that surface lies a lot of pain and sadness.

As I mentioned, this movie gets me very excited about daiquiris in the middle of the day. If you’re looking for that recipe, you can find it here. However, now I’d like to pay tribute to modern housewives, who, each September, start sucking back the Pumpkin Spice products like a seasonal heroin. Pumpkin Spice was not really “a thing” during the 1950s, but if it were, I’m pretty sure Cathy and her gal pals would be enjoying a pitcher of these Pumpkin Spice Margaritas.

Pumpkin Spice Margaritas

2 parts Reposado Tequila

1 part Cointreau

1 part Lime Juice

2 parts Pumpkin Spice Puree*

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail pitcher with ice. Stir until chilled, then pour into glasses filled with fresh ice.

*Pumpkin Spice Puree: Combine 1 cup brown sugar + 1 cup Water + 2 Tsp Ground Pumpkin Spice in a saucepan. Heat until lightly boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then stir in 3/4 cup Canned Pure Pumpkin Puree. Cool, and refrigerate.

In the role of Cathy Whitaker, Julianne Moore shows us that even though many of us may look back fondly on a lot of things from this era, in the end we’re only gazing at a pretty picture. The reality was anything but pretty. If I had my pick, I’d leave the intolerance back in the previous century, but keep the dresses and decor. Day-drinking with friends can also stay. Cheers!

Polyester

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Polyester 2

Image Credit: Polyester, 1981

As a final love letter to the TCMFF that never was, I decided to celebrate not just a classic, but a cult classic. Polyester (Disc/Download) is the rare John Waters movie that has eluded me up till now. Maybe I’d been holding out for an Odorama screening. Maybe I just wanted to watch this someplace more exciting than my living room. But then, I decided the viewing circumstances were irrelevant; Todd Tomorrow should not have to wait until tomorrow.

Having been raised on soap operas, the day I discovered the Douglas Sirk melodrama was a true awakening. Classic cinema had been churning out these “women’s pictures” (I have as much disdain for this term as I do “women’s fiction”) for decades, and life was suddenly a banquet again.  But once you’ve seen Magnificent Obsession and Imitation of Life and All That Heaven Allows, where to go? Baltimore, that’s where. With his core group of Dreamland performers, including Divine, Mink Stole, and Edith Massey, The Pope of Trash took these angst-filled flicks and turned them on their heads. It’s clear Waters has a real appreciation for the original genre, down to the peignoirs, clouds of Evening in Paris perfume, and campy character names, but he injects his own brand of modern weirdness too– foot fetishism, doggie suicide, and drag performance to name a few. The story of Francine Fishpaw overcoming her cheating husband and alcoholism is straight out of the Sirk playbook, but the clever way Waters inserts his own brand makes Polyester into something truly unique.

In a nod to the “gimmick” films of the 1950s, Polyester was originally screened in Odorama, whereby audience members were given cards to scratch and smell during certain scenes. Indeed, even without the cards, we see Divine sniffing like a president during a press conference. Most of the scents are pretty vile (model airplane glue, flatulence, skunk), but the first one is meant to lull us into a false sense of security: roses. By adding a few drops of rose water to this cocktail, you can join in the fun even at home. While watching Polyester, I recommend this Stop and Smell the Roses! cocktail.

Stop and Smell the Roses!

1.5 oz Three Olives Rosé Vodka

.5 oz Lemon Juice

.5 oz Grapefruit Juice

2-3 drops Rose Water

Splash of Sparkling Rosé

Club Soda

Dried Strawberries or Rose Petals for garnish

Combine Vodka, lemon and grapefruit juices, and rose water in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with Sparkling Rosé, and club soda. Garnish with dried strawberries or rose petals.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Eventually, Francine learns to stop hittin’ the sauce, but I don’t see any reason for us viewers to stop. Without the famed Odorama cards, we need alcohol as our gimmick. By being something special and different, Polyester breathed new life into the career of Tab Hunter. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll breathe new life into your love of movies; I know it did for me. Cheers!