Take 3: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison Review

Easter is just around the corner. Because of this, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society is hosting The Faith in Film Blogathon! This event has given me the perfect opportunity to review Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, which was recommended to me by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Since the movie features a Nun as one of the main characters, I knew there would be some religious themes within this script. However, I have never seen this film before, so I didn’t know what these themes would be. Choosing Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison also gave me an excuse to watch more movies from Deborah Kerr’s filmography. So, let’s start this review to see where this film ranks!

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison poster created by 20th Century Fox.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr are the only two actors in this movie’s main cast, those are the only two performances I will be discussing in this review. This is the third film of Deborah Kerr’s I’ve seen, with the previous two being Edward, My Son and Marriage on the Rocks. The one consistent part of Deborah’s acting abilities is how she uses emotions and expressions to her advantage. This allows her to make each of her roles seem well-rounded! While Sister Angela, Deborah’s character, and Mr. Allison are fishing, Mr. Allison tries to catch a turtle with a tool he built himself. When Mr. Allison falls into the ocean, Sister Angela appears shocked and horrified, as the situation happened so quickly. Later in the film, Sister Angela and Mr. Allison are discussing their plans if they leave the island. As Mr. Allison is talking about how he has grown closer to Sister Angela, tears can be seen forming in Sister Angela’s eyes. Deborah’s face in that scene said so much more than dialogue could. Robert Mitchum is an actor I’ve heard of, but am not familiar with. Even though I have seen pieces of El Dorado and Scrooged, I don’t remember his performance in those projects. As I watched his portrayal of the titular character, it appeared as a combination of the laid-back personality of Clark Gable and the tough persona of John Wayne. But for Robert, his eyes contained emotion throughout his performance. As Sister Angela falls ill, you can tell Mr. Allison is genuinely concerned for her. Robert’s eyes are what worked in his favor, as they held a sense of sympathy for Sister Angela and longing for her well-being. The first scene of this movie contained no dialogue, as it focused on Mr. Allison’s reaction when he first arrives on the island. Because of this, Robert had to rely on his facial expressions and body language to explain what his character was going through. I found these creative decisions gave the film a good first impression, as it brought some realism to this story!

The scenery: According to IMDB, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was filmed in Trinidad and Tobago. Even though the location is not specified in the film, the scenery made the movie very photogenic! There is so much foliage to be seen, from the tall palm trees to the smaller bushes. The ocean boasted a consistent shade of blue, which was definitely appealing to the eye. Sandy beaches and dark brown rocks complete the natural look this space had to offer. Based on appearances alone, this island looked inviting!

The parallels between the religious order and the Marines: Within Mr. Allison and Sister Angela’s conversations, parallels between the Marines and the religious order are brought up. One of the them is discussed while they are building a sail for their raft. Sister Angela addresses the preparations she had to go through in order to become a Nun. She even talks about one mentor within the religious order she wasn’t a fan of. Meanwhile, Mr. Allison shares his basic training before he officially became a Marine. He also brings up a drill Sergeant that he didn’t like. I never thought about these parallels until I saw this film, so I like how this story was somewhat thought-provoking. The parallels between the religious order and the Marines also showed how Sister Angela and Mr. Allison were similar than they first realized.

The Faith in Film Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The limited presence of faith: While I did like seeing the parallels between the religious order and the Marines, I was disappointed by how limited faith’s presence was. Before watching Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, I expected faith to be a cornerstone of this story, similar to films like Ben-Hur. Because the movie takes place during World War II, a correlation with the David and Goliath story would make sense. Seeing one of the characters question their faith or have their faith tested would be appropriate, given their circumstances. But faith in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was served in small doses.

A basic conflict: In movies, television shows, or books, I like conflicts that contain more depth. But the conflicts in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison were more basic than I hoped. In theory, the idea of a Marine and a Nun surviving on an abandoned island sounds interesting. But as the story progresses, the conflict is the same as other films of this nature. Even when Japanese soldiers invade the island, survival is still a major conflict. Because of everything I mentioned, few new ideas were brought to this particular table.

Lack of resolution: At one point in the film, Sister Angela explains to Mr. Allison how some women change their minds when it comes to the religious order. Several scenes later, Mr. Allison tries to dissuade Sister Angela from taking her final vows by telling her he loves her. She even starts to weigh her options when it came to her future. However, we never find out what her final decision was. A brief explanation in the script would be solved this problem. But because this explanation was nowhere to be found, a sense of closure was missing.

Cute Easter image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a fine movie. Even though I found it better than Edward, My Son and Marriage on the Rocks, I was expecting more from this third film. I was hoping faith would have a bigger role in the story, especially since Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was released two years before Ben-Hur. However, as I said in my review, faith was served in small doses. The conflict itself was typical for a movie that involves characters being stranded on an island. Because I like conflicts with more depth, this creative decision was disappointing. But the movie did have its strengths, such as the acting and the thought-provoking parallels. With all this said, this is a film I would still recommend to older viewers just in time for Easter!

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Robert Mitchum’s or Deborah Kerr’s films? If so, which ones would you recommend? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches…Touched by an Angel!

I know what you’re probably thinking; what does Touched by an Angel have to do with the Marines? Well, that’s where my explanation comes in. When J-Dub invited me to join their Send in the Marines Blogathon, they explained that there are a lot of actors who served in the Marines. One of them is Brian Keith. Because I was not familiar with this actor, I looked at his filmography on IMDB to see what projects he appeared in. In the ‘90s, Brian guest-starred on an episode of Touched by an Angel. I said in my post about the book, California Angel, that I like the aforementioned show. Since I own the entire series on DVD and since I haven’t talked about Touched by an Angel on my blog yet, I knew J-Dub’s blogathon would be a good excuse to do so. Also, with today being Veterans Day, talking about an episode co-starring a former U.S. Marine seems fitting.

Send in the Marines Blogathon banner
The Send in the Marines Blogathon banner created by J-Dub from Dubsism. Image found at https://dubsism.com/2019/09/09/its-time-to-report-for-duty-for-the-send-in-the-marines-blog-a-thon/.

Episode Name: The Sky Is Falling

Season 3, Episode 8

Premiere Date: November 3rd, 1996

What I liked about this episode:

There were several character interactions that were interesting to watch. But the two that were my favorite were between young Leonard and Penny and older Leonard and Monica. The interactions between young Leonard and Penny were adorable, acting as a light during a literally and figuratively dark time. The actors who portrayed these characters, Sam Gifaldi and Scarlett Pomers, were very believable and reacted in a realistic way for children in that particular situation. The interactions between older Leonard and Monica were interesting because of how different their personalities were. Their overall perspectives also differed from one another. Despite this, they both had the same goal and were able to reach that by helping each other.

What I didn’t like about this episode:

This episode takes place on Halloween. Based on the topics that were discussed in the story and because “The Sky Is Falling” was released after the spooky holiday, it felt more like an All Souls Day episode. While children can be seen dressed in costumes and going trick-or-treating , it isn’t the primary focus of the story. Also, several characters mention that the “War of the Worlds” broadcast took place on October 30th, the day before Halloween. So, having this episode take place on the aforementioned holiday doesn’t seem to make sense.

The story itself:

At the beginning of “The Sky Is Falling”, there were three components that seemed confusing at first. That’s because they were presented as three separate subplots. As the story goes on, these components came together very nicely to create a well-written story. Sometimes on Touched by an Angel, the writers will take a historical situation, like the “War of the Worlds” broadcast, and draw an intriguing story from it. This allows the audience to be both entertained and educated. This concept was executed very well in this episode, allowing lessons and messages to organically grow within the narrative. I also liked seeing how Tess and Monica first met. This part of the story provided an addition to their backstories and gave the audience the opportunity to see how far these characters have come as individuals and friends.

The other factors from this episode:

  • In “The Sky Is Falling”, part of the story was told through flashbacks, reflecting on October 30th of 1938. All of these scenes looked and felt historically accurate, like the creative team behind this show went the extra mile to capture this specific moment in time. Even the jewelry appeared as if it came from the late ‘30s.
  • This episode was filled with good lessons and morals. One example is how one should think before they speak. This was explored in a direct and indirect way, showing how people can positively or negatively react to words. “The Sky Is Falling” also had some good quotes. My favorite is when Tess tells Monica that “The story isn’t over ‘till it says The End”. Since Brian Keith’s character is a writer, this quote makes a lot of sense.
  • “The Sky Is Falling” had some really atmospheric scenes. If you haven’t seen this episode, I won’t give anything away. All I’ll say is that these atmospheric scenes took place in a forest. The way this location was staged and filmed was excellent! It effectively conveyed the tone that the show’s creative team was trying to achieve.

My overall thoughts:

I enjoyed this episode of Touched by an Angel more than I expected! This is definitely one of the stronger stories from the show, featuring a good cast who worked well together. The way this story was told was memorable, as it taught the audience lessons that went beyond the historical aspect. It’s better if you watch “The Sky Is Falling” as an All Souls Day episode, as Halloween doesn’t play as big of a role as in the show’s other stories. “The Sky Is Falling” kind of reminded me of another episode called “Monica’s Bad Day”, where the overarching message is how one’s actions can affect the people around them. In Brian Keith’s episode, this message was converted to focus on the power of words. Speaking of Brian, his portrayal of Leonard was such a highlight in this episode! This emotionally effective performance worked in his favor, as I found myself staying invested in his character throughout this story. “The Sky Is Falling” would not be the same without Brian.

Rating: A solid 4 out of 5

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This is just one of the Touched by an Angel DVDs that I own. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Have you seen any projects from Brian Keith’s filmography? Are there any episodes of Touched by an Angel you’d like to see me review? Please let me know in the comment section.

Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen