Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

U.S. Marine Corporal Allison (Robert Mitchum) finds himself marooned on a deserted island in the South Pacific during World War II. He is not alone, however. Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), a Catholic nun, is also stranded on the island. Mr Allison and Sr Angela, whom he refers to as Ma'am, eke out an existence together, thanks to the abundance of fruits and fish, while waiting for allied troops to rescue them. What they don't count on is Japanese troops suddenly arriving to build a weather station on the island, forcing them to hide in a cave, and on falling in love.

Yes. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is also a 1952 novel by Australian journalist/writer Charles Shaw. The book was adapted for the movie by American screenwriters John Lee Mahin and John Huston (who also directed). Shaw's story was remade in 1962 as The Nun and the Sergeant.

Yes. Shortly after Mr Allison meets Sister Angela, he asks whether the island has a name, and she replies, 'Tuasiva.' Tuasiva is a fictional island, located in the movie about 300 miles due north of Fiji. The movie was actually filmed in Trinidad and Tobago.

Sister Angela explains that she was working at a mission in Wanitok in the Lau group (a group of islands east of Fiji) but, because the Japanese were raiding the islands around them, a ship picked up Father Phillips and herself with orders to take them to Fiji. Knowing that Father Ryan was alone on Tuasiva, Fr Phillips hired some natives to take him there. Sr Angela came along to tend to the Father because of his advanced age. They arrived four days ago only to find that Fr Ryan was no longer there. Unfortunately, the natives were so afraid of the Japanese that they sailed away, leaving Fr Phillips and Sr Angela behind. The next day, Fr Phillips suffered a fall and died, and the nun was totally alone or, as she puts it, God was with her.

Allison was stationed on a submarine and got sent out on a recon mission when the Japanese began to drop depth charges all around them. Allison managed to get into a raft and drifted until the raft washed up on the Tuasiva beach.

Many viewers assume the animal is a rat. On closer inspection, however, the hind legs are not ratlike, and the animal has only a very short, hairless tail. It's actually an agouti, also in the Rodent family but more closely related to the guinea pig. Agoutis are native to Central and South America (where Trinidad and Tobago are located) and probably would not appear naturally in the South Pacific.

How does the movie end?

Eventually, the Japanese find the cave where Mr Alllison and Sr Angela are hiding. They are ordered to come out or a grenade will come in. An explosion rocks the cave, but Allison realizes that, rather than a grenade, it's a bomb, and that the U.S. navy is attacking the island in preparation for a beach landing in the morning. It won't be an easy landing because of the four 105 howitzers that the Japanese have hidden on the island. Suddenly, Allison sits up straight and tells Sr Angela that God has given him a way to stop the inevitable slaughter. Dodging friendly fire, he stealthfully sneaks down and, althugh he gets wounded in the shoulder, he successfully removes the breech blocks from each of the 105s, rendering them useless. As the marines make their landing without opposition, Mr Allison and Sr Angela say goodbye to each other. In the final scene, Allison is carried off the island on a stretcher, puffing on a cigarette. At his side walks Sr Angela, carrying her cross and comb.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 7 months ago
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