All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
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An incredibly long but never dull adaptation of the Rachel Field best-seller, All This and Heaven Too was based on a once-notorious European scandal. Star Bette Davis, playing Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, is first seen as a French schoolteacher in a 19th century American seminary. When her supervisor, Reverend Henry Mortyn Field (Jeffrey Lynn), has questions to ask about her tainted past, Henriette relates her story in flashback. She had been hired by French duke De Praslin (Charles Boyer) to be the governess for his children. De Praslin's wife (Barbara O'Neil) was insanely jealous, so much so she inadvertently threw De Praslin and Henriette together. Henriette was willing to leave rather than cause more discord, but the influential wife vengefully refused to write a letter of recommendation (a bravura scene). Later, the impoverished Henriette was arrested as an accomplice in the murder of De Praslin's wife. The latter's position in French society stirred up volatile political ramifications, with Henriette innocently in the center of the storm. De Praslin committed suicide, exonerating Henriette on his deathbed, but she had already been condemned in the court of public opinion. Disgraced, she left for America to start life anew, which brings the story back to the present. Unable to continue running away from herself, Henriette confesses her past indiscretions to her students -- who promptly forgive her. Casey Robinson had a hell of a job adapting Rachel Field's cumbersome novel, but, by golly, he pulled it off. The performances in All This and Heaven Too are enhanced immeasurably by the lush Max Steiner musical score. … More
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Critic Reviews for All This, and Heaven Too
It's a pretty long, gloomy haul, though lavishly mounted (with photography by Ernest Haller) and sensitively acted.
The film was critically acclaimed but because of its overlong 143 minutes and grim story line, it was not the blockbuster the studio hoped for.
Anatole Litvak directs with tact and restraint this period melodrama (a woman's picture) about a governess who falls for her employer-nobleman. Davis and Boyer are good, but it's Barbara O'Neil who stands out as Boyer's neurotic and obsessive wife.
Audience Reviews for All This, and Heaven Too
all this, and heaven too" is a tear-jerking over sentimentalized vehicle of miss bette davis, intended to showcase miss davis' caliber of benevolent characters instead of her trademarked roles as malevolent shrews like "little foxes", "jazebel" and "whatever happened to baby jane."..except the acting, everything about "all this, and heaven too" flops into a hygienized version of "jane eyre" without a bit of gothic allure, a tale of a prim governess' suppressed crush on her empolyer.
davis plays an idealistic young woman who comes to france serving an aristocratic family led by charles boyer, and she spreads warmth of love to his children that draws the bitter jealousy of the loveless wife(babara o'nell) who goes insane at any moment when the aristocrat endears the governess. then the fanatic wife gets rid of the governess then revenges her by not granting a letter of reference. eventually the aristocrat slaughters his wife in a fit of enormous rage.
the simmering romance between boyer and davis is like a smoldered stewed dish without emanation so it just stales with exceeding melodramaticity. the best moment in the flick would probably be the second charles boyer strikes barbara o'nell. and the children seem unpleasant with their galling sweetness, escpecially their pretentious french accent."
"all this, and heaven too" is a so-called woman's movie(or chic flick), but it all depends on whether you term womanhood as oppressive passion sealed under the conduction of puritanical virtues. perhaps an explosion would be more aggreeable than masochistic feminity.
What a lovely Bette Davis film. I am a very big Bette Davis fan and love especially her films in the 30's and 40's. Charles Boyer from "Gas Light" another film gem is very good in this. Bette plays a governess in the 1800's whom falls in love with the children's father (Charles Boyer) whose wife is very shrill and often seems cruel. It is on my list of Bette favs.More
Another brilliant Bette Davis performance that unfortunately is not often viewed as part of her "cannon" of good works.More
Bette Davis is one of the greatest actors who ever lived. She's great at being bad or good, although her good can sometimes be a little too sweet at times. This is one of them. She plays an innocent governess who works for the wrong couple at the wrong time. This was a well done tale based on the real life murder of Duchesse de Praslin. Boyer was excellent as the brooding Duc, but the show stealer was Barbara O'Neil playing the venomous Duchesse. Davis gets props for rocking a fantastic French accent. There is also something to be said for Bette's eyes, as they tell a story all on their own; and they are working overtime in this film. The childrens' performance was superb (even with the sons strong southern accent), as you really felt the love they had for their governess. A period piece that runs a little over 2 hours, which apparently was supposed to be about 3 hours. I can't imagine it running longer as some parts seemed to drag a bit as it was.More
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