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In 1944, the castaway Corporal Allison, adrift in a raft since his ship was attacked, lands on tiny Tuasiva Island, where he meets Sister Angela. She tells him that she is the only person on the island, having been left behind while trying to evacuate 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 an outpost, forcing "Mr." Allison and the nun to take refuge 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
John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable and Marlon Brando all wanted to play or were sought for the part of Mr. Allison before Robert Mitchum was cast. See more »
At the beginning of the film, Corporal Allison's raft nears the island. As he looks over the edge of the raft and sees the island, his disheveled hair is dry as well as his shirt. However, the next shot shows his hair much shorter but soaking wet as is his shirt. 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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