All I Desire

All I Desire is a 1953 American romantic drama film directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Carlson, Lyle Bettger, Marcia Henderson, Lori Nelson and Maureen O'Sullivan. It is based on Carol Ryrie Brink's 1951 novel Stopover.

All I Desire
Film poster by Reynold Brown
Directed byDouglas Sirk
Produced byRoss Hunter
Written byCarol Ryrie Brink (novel)
Robert Blees
James Gunn
Gina Kaus
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
Richard Carlson
Lyle Bettger
Marcia Henderson
Lori Nelson
Maureen O'Sullivan
CinematographyCarl E. Guthrie
Edited byMilton Carruth
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • June 25, 1953 (1953-06-25) (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • July 3, 1953 (1953-07-03) (Los Angeles)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.2 million (US)[3] or over $2 million[2]


At the turn of the twentieth century, Naomi Murdoch is a struggling vaudeville actress. Naomi receives a letter from her daughter Lily, inviting her to come home and attend Lily's acting debut in her high school play. Naomi abandoned her husband and children in Riverdale, Wisconsin 10 years before, setting off to become an actress. A fellow vaudeville actress convinces Naomi that she should return and pretend to be the successful stage actress she told her family she has become.

When Naomi shows up back in Riverdale, Lily is delighted, believing Naomi to be a great star. But the townspeople are concerned about her notoriety. And her school principal husband Henry is unsure how he feels about Naomi being back, as is older daughter Joyce, still bitter about her mother's long abandonment. Meanwhile, Naomi also finds herself pursued by an aggressive former suitor, Dutch Heineman. At the school play, Dutch can't take his eyes off Naomi. A teacher, Sara Harper, now loves Henry but can tell he still has feelings for his long-absent wife.

Dutch turns up when Naomi goes for a horseback ride with Joyce and her boyfriend Russ. Joyce and Russ leave Naomi by the lake and Dutch comes forward to embrace Naomi. Naomi refuses his advances and rides home alone. Henry and Naomi reconcile.

Later, Dutch signals that he wants Naomi to meet him at the lake. Naomi goes to tell Dutch that he must leave her alone because she is going to stay with Henry. Dutch says he has been too good to her and tries to force himself on her; to fend him off, Naomi uses a riding crop, and struggles with him. During the struggle Dutch's rifle falls and Dutch is accidentally shot. Naomi's son Ted helps take Dutch to a doctor, even though he thinks his mother might have had a romantic rendezvous arranged with Dutch that day.

Naomi believes it would be better for all if she went away. Lily wants to go along, in order to become a famous actress like her mother. Naomi finally confesses that her career has actually been a total failure. Henry discovers from Dutch's wounds and anger that Naomi wanted nothing more to do with him. He prevents Naomi from leaving, wanting to give their life together another try.


Production notes

The director, Douglas Sirk, originally shot a darker, sadder ending, but the producer, Ross Hunter, substituted a happier one [4]

Richard Long, who has a horseback-riding scene with Stanwyck, would thirteen years later play Stanwyck's eldest son in the TV western series The Big Valley (1966).

Hunter said Stanwyck worked for "little or no salary" and the $460,000 budget included 25% studio overhead. He said the film "was when he learned how to put the money on screen" as a producer.[2]


  1. All I Desire at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. Tear-jerker Famine; It's a Crying Shame Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 18 Apr 1965: M3.
  3. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
  4. The Barbara Stanwyck Collection, Universal Backlot Series, 2010
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