All (and I do mean all) of my feminist professors in film school gave lectures on ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. It is considered the quintessential 50s melodrama-- showing the confinement of the female subject by an unyielding and unforgiving patriarchal society. It's my favorite in this period/genre. Jane Wyman really captures the struggle that woman is facing as she deals with an empty nest. She falls in love with someone outside her class and must still keep up appearances and avoid scandal at all costs. It's a brilliant examination of the bourgeoisie.
I could not agree more - and we must thank Douglas Sirk.