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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
Despite Davis and O'Neill's reports to the contrary, history and portraits painted at the time show the Duchesse De Praslin was a beautiful , well-kept woman. See more »
The Duchess of Praslin is seen licking envelopes in which she has placed letters to her husband, the Duc de Praslin. This film is set in the 1840s; gummed envelopes would not be invented for another 100 years. Correspondence in the 1840s would not be placed in a #10 business envelope anyway as seen in the film. The letters would be be placed in another sheet of paper and then sealed over with a wax seal or simply folded over and sealed with a wax seal, sometimes a ribbon set in the wax as well. See more »
Duc de Praslin:
Oh, please don't go. Don't even move.
Duc de Praslin:
I might say don't move because, as you sit there, the firelight is so beautiful on your hair. I might say don't move because this is All Souls' Day, and you mustn't disturb the spirits. And again, I might say don't move because this is a moment so full of understanding that I can't bear to see it come to an end.
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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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