Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama  |  13 March 1957 (USA)
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A marine and a nun form an unlikely friendship. The marine is shipwrecked on a Pacific island and the nun has been left behind there; they find comfort in one another as the two wait out the war.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:


In 1944, the castaway Corporal Allison drifts in a raft to Tuasiva Island, where he meets Sister Angela. She tells him that she is the only person on the island, having been left behind when seeking out a priest. The nun and the marine are stranded, but the island offers a bountiful supply of food. However, their paradisiacal life ends when the Japanese arrive to build a base, forcing "Mr." Allison and the nun to hide in a cave. The marine's expertise in such conditions proves to be vital to their survival, and the two grow ever closer. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; jonathanroberts

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They were alone on this Pacific Island... trapped behind enemy lines... the marine who had been thru Hell and Sister Angela with her supreme faith in God.


Action | Adventure | Drama | War


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 March 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Seemann und die Nonne  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)| (Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally when filming began on Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), her co-star Robert Mitchum worried that Deborah Kerr would be like the prim characters she frequently played. However, after she swore at director John Huston during one take, Mitchum, who was in the water, almost drowned laughing. The two stars went on to have an enduring friendship which lasted until Mitchum's death in 1997. See more »


While in the cave during the Navy shelling, Allison says the four Japanese 105's are "hid real good". In fact, as is clear when Allison takes action against the "big rifles," they are quite exposed, without overhead protection, and would be highly vulnerable to the shelling, although hard to see from aircraft due to the camouflage netting (which had been blown away at one site). The Navy would have concentrated its preparatory fire on the landing beach, where the 105's were, although there would have been no assurance all could have been knocked out. See more »


[first lines]
Cpl. Allison, USMC: Let's just keep it quiet, ma'am. You speak English?
Sister Angela: Yes.
Cpl. Allison, USMC: Are there any Japs around?
Sister Angela: You're... You're an American.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 1944 SOMEWHERE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC See more »


Referenced in Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star (1991) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It Might Be Paradise If It Wasn't For The Japanese
10 August 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

One of the great injustices of Hollywood history is the fact that Deborah Kerr was nominated for Best Actress while Robert Mitchum got nary a mention for Best Actor in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. Kerr had several nominations, but never came up a winner. Mitchum was nominated once at the beginning of his career in the Best Supporting Actor category in The Story of GI Joe and then never again.

In Mitchum's case I think that some of his irreverent comments offended a few people. Sometimes Bob was a bit too candid about what he thought of the film industry and his chosen profession. Otherwise he might well have gotten nominations for this, Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, Ryan's Daughter, The Sundowners, The Friends of Eddie Coyle and a few others.

This film is always and rightly compared to The African Queen with a female in the religious missionary profession and a hell-raising outsider thrown together in war time. The African Queen was in World War I and this film is set on a backwater Pacific island in World War II.

Corporal Allison, USMC arrives on a rubber raft after the Japanese opened fire on a submarine he was on. The only other person on the island is a nun who has seen all the others die or flee the island. It's a small island, but apparently strategically located.

The film is about these two mismatched people thrown together and what they have to do to survive. Deborah Kerr is a nun who hasn't yet taken her final vows and being alone on the island with Mitchum is a temptation no doubt.

Mitchum though has his own code. He's a foundling kid who took the name of Allison because that was the street in Milwaukee he was dropped off on. He was a juvenile delinquent until he joined the Marines and they gave his life a meaning. The Marine Corps manual is his Bible as much as the Scripture is Kerr's.

I can identify with that because in fact I had a cousin who was in the Marines who did in fact straighten him out. He was a hell raising kid in his youth and he became if not a solid citizen after his service, at least a respectable one.

John Huston got unforgettable performances out of his credited cast of two. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison has not dated one single bit since its release.

We all need something to believe in to get us through in this world.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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