Robert Mitchum is seriously one of my favorite actors of all time. I don’t know why Mitchum doesn’t get the acclaim he so rightly deserves. I often feel like Mitchum gets relegated to the second string behind guys like Jimmy Stewart and others of his generation and it’s always puzzled me. Mitchum played a variety of characters and he always a had a certain cinematic presence that I felt guys like Stewart didn’t have. Not to say Jimmy Stewart didn’t have screen presence, but Robert Mitchum always felt like he could come directly off the screen to kick your ass all while being perfectly pleasant about it.
So, it’s really no surprise that Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is one of my favorite movies of all time.
The basic story is that Cpl. Allison (Robert MItchum) washes ashore on what he believes is a deserted island, but discovers one inhabitant – the good-natured Sister Angela. Sister Angela is thrilled to have another companion, but Allison is apprehensive at first. It’s his luck, he claims, that he’d wash up on the one island that has a nun only on it – and a pretty one at that.
Then the Japanese decide to pay a visit to the island and Allison and Angela’s story becomes less about learning to cohabitate and more about survival.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a really sweet story. The two main characters alternately must fight off attractions to one another, mainly centering around the fact that Angela is a nun, and therefore, unlikely to settle down with a guy anytime soon. But mainly, Mitchum and Deborah Kerr flow through their scenes so effortlessly that it’s a joy to watch. The entire movie hinges on them. They’re the sole inhabitants of the island (until the Japanese show up) so it’s necessary that they make it through the movie convincingly and they do. Robert MItchum in particular is stellar as the rough Corporal Allison, and it’s one of his finest movie roles.
The movie’s touching without ever overdoing it and it’s got a strong story behind it with great direction. What makes it really stand out is just the fact that you never get tired of Allison or Sister Angela when the entire movie rests on them.
This movie is primarily why I feel MItchum always gets screwed on the recognition he so rightly deserves; it’s a movie I’ve suggested to others many, many a time and I’m usually always met with a blank stare – at least until someone watches it and then returns to tell me, “Hey, that was awesome!”