Friday Night Classic: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

I’m still on my John Huston kick. I am watching as many of his films that I can easily get my hands on. The good, the bad, and the meh. Nothing is off limits. After revisiting The Asphalt Jungle last week, I switch gears to something a little less gritty and a little more… dull.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison stars Robert Mitchum as an American marine and Deborah Kerr as a nun. Both end up stranded on a Pacific Island in the midst of World War II. Their plans to escape are thwarted when Japanese soldiers set up camp on the island and they are forced to hide out in a cave.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison gives Robert Mitchum an excuse to get incredibly macho. Tasked with protecting and aiding the pious Sister Angela, he spears a turtle, fishes, crawls through some underbrush, and fights some Japs. It’s all in the day’s work.

The problem with Heaven Knows Mr. Allison is that it was plagued by censorship. Huston was reportedly so fed up with the Hollywood censor that he staged a scene where  Mitchum lifts up Kerr’s skirt and attempts to rape her. The censorship quite effectively limited the emotional affect of the two character’s relationship.

It is clear that Mitchum’s Mr. Allison falls for Kerr’s Sister Angela. While drunk on sake one night, Allison proposes to the nun but she refuses, having already dedicated her heart to God. But never once did I believe that Sister Angela loved anyone other than God. She is too pure of heart and never indicates that she is questioning her dedication to God.

John Huston directs Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

By the end of it all, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison is a rather unremarkable movie. Just watch The African Queen instead. Seriously.


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