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In 1944, in South Pacific, the castaway Marine Corporal Allison drifts in a raft to the Tuasiva Island, where he meets Sister Angela. She tells him that she is the only person in the island and was left behind by the runaway boat to Fiji Island while seeking the local priest. Stranded in the island, but with water, fish and fruits, their paradisiacal life ends when the Japanese arrive to build a base, forcing Allison and the nun to hide in a cave. The crude marine provides the necessary supply for their survival and falls in love for the nun. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
As the barefoot Mr. Allison is walking through the first shack on the island, his shoes are tied together and hanging around his neck but the sound is of shod feet walking on the floor boards of the shack. See more »
Extremely impressive John Huston movie which - criminally - has been largely overlooked in recent times.
It's always interesting to hear what movie directors think of their own work, and John Huston once made a very insightful comment about this 1957 film which he made for 20th Century Fox:- "Allison is seldom referred to. But I think it was one of the best things I ever made". Huston has hit the nail squarely on the head with this comment. It is - just as he states - a film that has faded into obscurity as the years have passed. It is also paradoxically one of his great works. Perhaps The African Queen, The Red Badge Of Courage, The Asphalt Jungle and Treasure Of The Sierra Madre rank in the director's very top tier of work, but Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is definitely among the front-runners in the second tier.
The story is extremely simple, but absorbing. American marine Allison (Robert Mitchum) is washed ashore on a Pacific island during WWII. The only other person on the island is a nun named Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr). Although they are totally different types of people - and in other circumstances might well have looked down their noses at each other - they find that their mutual plight draws them together and creates a very close friendship. Their situations worsens, however, when a Japanese force arrives and stations a garrison on the island. Allison and Sister Angela find themselves in genuinely grave danger now. Initially, they were merely shipwrecked.... but the arrival of the Japanese soldiers places them in the very midst of the enemy, with nowhere to run and almost nowhere to hide.
As it was made in 1957, the filming was fraught with difficulties, because at that time the Catholic church imposed strict censorship laws on films dealing with religious situations or characters. In the original Charles Shaw book which provided the inspiration for the film, the marine and the nun fell in love.... but it would have been deemed offensive if that were to happen in a 1957 film, so Huston had to create a revised resolution in which the marine and nun gain strength, hope and determination from each other without ever physically consummating their relationship. The performances are meticulous, with Mitchum showing what depth and sensitivity he could bring to a part when asked to do more than his usual man-of-action thing. Kerr is, if anything, even better and earned a thoroughly worthy Oscar nomination (she was eventually beaten - probably undeservedly - by Joanne Woodward). Oswald Morris shoots the film splendidly, ensuring that it is always pleasing to the eye, while Huston expertly juggles the suspense and the sensitivity. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a really first-rate film and how sad it is that such a likable motion picture has become virtually forgotten.
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