Movie Reviews

Movie Review – “All This and Heaven Too” (1940)

 

 

Yet another Bette Davis period piece and yet another film that meant nothing to me. But unlike her other period pieces like “Jezebel,” I can at least point to the reason why this film doesn’t work – the whole film is set around a French governess (Davis) recounting her life story and all the juicy drama that unfolded when she was the caretaker of a Baron (Charles Boyer) and his family, including the romance that slowly formed between the two. As Davis tells this story to a bunch of American school girls, she goes into explicit and surprising detail about everything that happened, including bits and pieces that she wasn’t around for and could never have known about even if she asked. It’s not just that Davis is an unreliable narrator, but a narrator who knows everything despite being the main character in a story that doesn’t have her in every scene, especially key scenes that involve the Baron and his wife (Barbara O’Neil) in private. If you stop and think about how Davis knows all of this, the whole timeline falls apart. This is just another forgettable period piece that doesn’t expect its audience to think about the story.

Final Grade: D

 

1 reply »

  1. It’s a good question you have raised. Does Henriette tell the children everything we see as the viewer? I would presume that she doesn’t. The scenes where Henriette is not present are for the viewer, but not the children. This film is based on a true story, so it would make sense that we see the story not just from Hennriete’s perspective. Other people who lived at that time would have been able to provide details as to what happened.

    This film has a very important theme–it shows us what it means to be a good person.

    btw; if you are interested, I wrote a short essay on the film (500 words) called “The virtue of goodness.” I’m open to any feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.com/2020/04/25/all-this-and-heaven-too/

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