Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.
When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and obsessive Duchesse de Praslin, she instantly incurs the wrath of her mistress, who is insanely jealous of anyone who comes near her estranged husband. Though she saves the duchess's little son from a near-death illness and warms herself to all the children, she is nevertheless dismissed by the vengeful duchess. Meanwhile, the attraction between the duke and Henriette continues to grow, eventually leading to tragedy.Written by
An error, not in the film itself, but in the Warner DVD commentary on the film, may confuse IMDb readers who consult the credits list. In his commentary, at about 14:45, Daniel Bubbeo identifies the actor playing the household priest (Abbe Gallard) as Walter Hampden, but this is an error. Walter Hampden plays Pasquier, the King's chief minister who leads the murder prosecution in the second part of the film. The actor playing Abbe Gallard is Fritz Leiber. Possibly Bubbeo was misled by a superficial resemblance between the two actors -- both being tall men with prominent noses. But in any case, the IMDb cast list is correct, and Bubbeo is in error. (For another prominent role of Walter Hampden, see his rendering of the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a year earlier.) See more »
Bette Davis is a schoolteacher whose past returns to haunt her in "All This and Heaven Too," a true story which took place in 1840s France and turned into a novel by Rachel Field. Bette Davis is the governess turned teacher, Henriette, Charles Boyer is the man of the house, the Duc de Praslin, Barbara O'Neill is his neurotic wife, and Jeffrey Lynn a minister friend who helps Henriette.
Henriette takes over as governess in the unhappy home of the Duc, caring for his four children - played by June Lockhart, Ann Todd, Virginia Wielder, and the adorable, pouty-lipped Richard Nichols. Though Nichols appeared in films taking place in France and Sweden, he sports a thick southern accent and calls Henriette "mamZEL." The Duc is miserable with his frustrated, bitter wife. The lack of sex in the marriage is demonstrated by his escorting her to her room and kissing her hand, then departing to his own room. She writes him lots of letters which she slips under his door. Feelings develop between the Duc and Henriette, but in the film at least, these are never acted upon. Unconvinced, the Duchesse does everything she can to get rid of the governess. In the beginning of the movie, Henriette tells her story as her students find out she has spent time in prison over a double tragedy which took place in the Praslin household.
Though a tragic story on many levels, it's a beautifully told one with every detail attended to. Bette Davis is warm and restrained as Henriette, soft-spoken and deferential. Boyer, with that vein in his forehead that sticks out when he's angry, is excellent as a man at the boiling point. O'Neill is positively hateful, a credit to her marvelous performance. From the strong, generous, loving mother in "Gone With the Wind," she turns herself into a self-involved, petty harridan.
"All This and Heaven Too" will sweep you into its rich atmosphere. In fact, I remember bringing this film to my office once when I worked a night shift, figuring that my colleagues and I would watch some of it over dinner each night. We ended up watching the entire thing in one sitting - which is what happened the last time I watched it. At 141 minutes, it's not short, but it holds the attention as a great film should.
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