Heaven Knows Mr Allison 1957

What a treat to have this shown on Talking Pictures yesterday. I thought afterwards that to have a storyline with virtually only two people in it, to hold the audience for 100 minutes means that you have to have a good story, a good script, a good director and two leading actors ‘out of the top drawer’. This film had all those attributes.

It was also beautifully filmed and so, visually it was stunning and a big production in Colour and Cinemascope

In 1957 when this film was released, few of us had ever seen such paradise islands and there was no likelihood that we would, coupled with the fact that even if we saw such locations on Television it would be in Black and White – and on a 14 inch screen maybe.

During WWW II in a Pacific tropical island that might be a paradise in another time , American Marine : Robert Mitchum is shipwrecked there and to his astonishment he finds a nun Deborah Kerr’s living alone on the island – they form an unlikely friendship and eventually falling in love .

Later the island is invaded when a Japanese detachment overrun the lonely place and the two hide out during the day and forage for food by night , gradually revealing their pasts to each other .

They struggle to survive until USA forces invade the island.

This is an enjoyable film with plenty of action , entertainment , high pathos, excitement and tenderness . Perfectly cast Deborah Kerr as kind nun and Robert Mitchum as Marine Sergeant Allison , both of whom providing top-notch performances .

The story is based on the novel by Charles Shaw with the film script from John Lee Mahin and John Huston himself .

In many ways it reminds me of The African Queen made a few years earlier

Colourful cinematography from Oswald Morris conveying to us the humid and lush atmosphere of a small tropical island.

John Huston said that when his films are discussed this one rarely gets a mention, but he felt that it was one of his best

Deborah Kerr with her Daughter at the Film Premiere

BELOW – Scenes filmed on Tobago in the West Indies, standing in for the South Seas island in the Pacific

Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr loved working together; you can see that in in “The Sundowners,” and you can see it here again

Robert Mitchum is a capable but a not-very-bright marine who is washed up on a deserted South Pacific island – Deborah Kerr is a nun who’s been living there alone since the recent death of her aged priest.

John Huston’s direction is, as always, just right

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One Response to “Heaven Knows Mr Allison 1957”

  1. David Rayner says:

    This is an excellent classic. I originally got to see HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON by a fluke at the age of 13 and a half in October, 1960. I went to see it at the Essoldo, Stoke, because the film on with it was a favourite of mine, THE DEERSLAYER starring Lex Barker, which I had originally gone to see two and a half years earlier in March, 1958 at another local cinema. So I sat through HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON and thought it was excellent and well worth my two shillings admission money (ten pence in today’s money) I don’t think you’d get in a cinema for that price today.

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