I watched Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) today for the first time in years and enjoyed it so much. I’d forgotten how good it is. It’s just Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr on screen almost the entire time and they both turn in such wonderful performances. I’m very fond of Kerr and like her in almost everything, but Mitchum I’m not that crazy about in general. He’s just not my favorite actor.
He’s fantastic in this, though, playing Corporal Allison, a rough-around-the-edges Marine who is at heart a good and decent man. He’s tough, brave, and takes his duties as a Marine very seriously, but he can be thoughtful and tender, as he is with Kerr’s Sister Angela, a nun who’s stranded with Allison on a Japanese-occupied island in the Pacific during WWII. The bond they form through their harrowing ordeal is sweet, funny, and touching.
The movie was directed by John Huston, and it’s reminiscent of another of his films, The African Queen, in its story of a sheltered, genteel religious woman being thrown together with an unsophisticated, hard-drinking, and very masculine man in a life-or-death situation. When the woman is already married to someone else, however, and when that someone else is God, any romance is bound to be bittersweet.
I’m glad I was at home today to catch Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison on TCM. It’s one of those movies that has a little bit of everything wrapped up in a beautifully filmed Cinemascope package — humor, action, romance, drama, and most of all two excellent performances from Robert Mitchum and an Oscar-nominated Deborah Kerr. I highly recommend checking out the movie if you haven’t seen it yet, and revisiting it if, like me, you haven’t seen it in a while.