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Based upon Rachel Field's wonderful novel of the same name, this film is a triumph. It is a fictionalized account of a notorious true crime that shocked Paris to its core in the mid nineteenth century.
A governess, Henriette Deluzy, magnificently played by Bette Davis, returns to France, having accepted a position to teach the four children of the Duc and Duchesse De Praslin. The Duc, played with intense, restrained passion by the debonair Charles Boyer, is unhappily married to a self absorbed harpy who cares not a whit for her children, but is obsessed with her husband. Her obsession is such, that she appears to be mentally unbalanced.
When Ms. Deluzy joins the household, the Duchesse resents her children's growing fondness of her, as well as her husband's attentions to the children and the governess. Though clearly falling in love, the Duc and the governess maintain a completely platonic relationship at all times. Yet, the obsession of the Duchesse is such that she imagines the worst sort of affair is taking place right under her very nose. She is consumed by jealously and loses no time in making all in that household miserable.
Many months after Ms. Deluzy is forced to leave the household, the Duchesse is found murdered, and suspicion falls upon the Duc and the former governess. What happens to them will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. This is a beautifully acted film.
Bette Davis, the great doyenne of film and theatre, plays the governess in an uncharacteristally restrained fashion, using those famous orbs of hers to convey all the emotion that she feels but cannot express. She succeeds, brilliantly. Charles Boyer is a superb casting choice for the handsome, angst ridden Duc, saddled with a histrionic wife bent on making the entire family miserable. Barbara O'Neil, as the Duchesse, gives an over the top, but effective, performance that is a good counterfoil to that of Ms. Davis. The supporting cast is likewise excellent and contributes to the success of this marvelous screen gem.
This tragic story is brought to life under the very able direction of Anatole Litvak and rightly earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. It is a true film classic that should be seen by all who love a great movie.
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on November 25, 1999
I have a feeling this is one of those films that isn't as highly recognized as it should be. It was nominated for Best Picture of 1940, but in the past 60 years, very little is written or spoken about this wonderful film. It is a shame really, to think of all the great films we overlook and all the so-so films we pay too much attention to. "All This, and Heaven Too" shines as one of the greatest forgotten films of all time! Bette Davis, who is in my opinion the greatest actress in screen history, demonstrates her amazing versatility as an actress. One who is never afraid and always capable of tackling any type of role, Davis plays a vulnerable governness who is accused of killing the Duchess of France, because she is suspected of having an affair with the Duke. Her caring, compassion and loving character is portrayed vividly with an excellent supporting cast. Charles Boyer is the Duke and Barbara O'Neill gives an incredible performance as the horrendous, uncaring mother, the Duchess. "All This, and Heaven Too" is a must-see!
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on November 3, 2002
Bette Davis is a young governess brought in to educate and basically mother the children of the Duc and Duchesse de Praslin in Paris of the 1840's. The Duc and Duchesse are at war with each other, trying to keep the children out of it. Davis' calm manner and way with the children soon catches the eye of the doting father, Charles Boyer, leading to a love between the two that is never acted upon. The Duchesse, Barbara O'Neill, grows to resent the governess for having taken the affections of her husband and children from her. It leads to a series of dramatic events that tears the family apart. Davis is subdued and unusually controlled as the governess, a fine counterbalance to the fiery dramatics of the spurned O'Neill. Boyer is excellent as the tormented Duc, torn between duty and love. It's a long film, but Anatole Litvak's tight direction and the quality production keep the story moving along well. Although primarily melodrama, it's has aspects of mystery and social commentary woven into its plotline, all anchored by Davis quiet performance. It's one of her least known films from that era, but one worth viewing.
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on April 25, 2002
If you think you're not a Bette Davis fan, please try this movie before deciding. I almost didn't watch this film until my grandmother recommended it to me. Bette Davis shines in this wonderfully impressive role as a governess full of love, patience and mercy. Very different from her other roles, where being in the spotlight and causing trouble were paramount.
The movie begins with her teaching at a school for girls, where, upon learning some gossip about Bette, treat her awfully. Instead of giving up or turning to harsh tactics to control her class, she arrives one morning, and announces that she wants to tell them a story. Then after hearing her story, they can each be the judge, to decide if she is fit to teach them.
The story is one that you will not walk away from without feeling like you never want it to end. It's the kind of story that will have you so involved, it's like you yourself have been transported to France, that you are the governess, living out this story as if it were real. And you gain a whole new respect for Bette's acting. This movie is absolutely by far one of her best.
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VINE VOICEon July 5, 2008
"All This and Heaven Too", released in 1940, is a long and moving film concerning a famous murder within the French aristocracy. Made at the height of Bette Davis's career at Warner Brothers, it is most noteworthy today for the underacting of Davis, in contrast to her many much more dynamic and exciting characterisations. This is one of the films which counters Davis's mainly false reputation for overacting. Matched with Charles Boyer, an equally magnetic and powerful actor, the pair create a deeply felt relationship conveyed mainly in close up. Anatole Litvak directs meticulously and the film is a triumph of studio magic but the length tends to induce boredom today.

The print of the film is first rate and there is a comprehensive package of extras. Two trailers are included, one for the film itself and the other for "Dr Erlich's Magic Bullet", carefully promoted as another example of Warner's leadership in breaking new ground for the film was about finding a cure for syphilis. The Newsreel shows Ed Sullivan crowning Davis and Mickey Rooney as king and queen of Hollywood in 1940 and the technicolour short is a patriotic recruiting poster for the Navy - beautifully made but hard not to cringe today. There are 2 good cartoons included, particularly Daffy Duck trying to break into pictures and with lots of in jokes about the Warner's contract players.

A commentary is included too. For over 2 hours, Daniel Bubbeo chatters on (and on and on), repeating himself and promoting his book on the women of Warner Brothers. With such a long film, it would have been impossible for him not to have told us something about the film but the padding is endless and boring and his sing song delivery is very irritating.

The DVD is good value but better if purchased as part of the 3rd Davis Collection.
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on February 23, 2006
I adored this movie! After seeing it, I was compelled to read the book by Rachel Field. Bette Davis did an excellent job of portraying Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, the loving, quick-witted governess falsely accused of being associated with the notorious Praslin murder that helped to bring down the French monarchy. After reading the book and seeing the movie, I was surprised that it took the Duc so long to lose it with the Duchesse. See the movie or read the book and you'll probably agree with me. This movie was amazing and it showed me what a versatile actress Bette Davis was. This isn't her normal brand of movie. I was intrigued when I found out that it was based on a true story, that's why I read the book. My only disappointment with the movie is that it isn't on DVD yet! I really wish they'd release the DVD version of it, I'd buy it the second it came out!
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on December 3, 2005
This film is the best kept secret in the illustrious career of Bette Davis.

Mademoiselle Deluzy is not the quintessential Davis character. In fact, Barbara O'Neill plays the "bitchy" role. And although she does an amazing job (she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Bette is absolutely riveting...captivating...she manages to say so doing so little.

The story is haunting and beautiful. From the acting, casting, screenplay, cinematography, set & costume design: BRILLIANT. A hidden treasure.
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on September 1, 2011
I am not usually a fan of Bette Davis but I am a huge fan of Charles Boyer. However, in this film they both shine. The appeal they have to one-an-other other is enormous but because of the circumstances in which they live, they can`t give in to their feelings. He is a grand duke in the French Court, she is the governess of his childrem. His wife is a vitriolic, spiteful and an extraordinarily jealous woman, throwing out wild accusations and making life unbearable for everyone except her spies and servants. She has no interest in her children. She cares only for her husband but has driven him away with her terrible possesiveness.

This role, amazeingly, is not played by Bette Davis but by Barbara O`Neill who played Scarlett O`Hara`s mother in `Gone with the Wind`. Instead Bette Davis is the the gentle, loving and well loved governess of the four children. The peace that she brings to the house is in stark contrast to the screaming and tears that were part of their lives before her arrival. To the Duke, the governess is his refuge and they become very much in love. The tension that this creates gets stronger in every scene they have together. Two wonderful actors giving great performances.

I believe this film was Warner Brothers answer to GWTW. It was shot in black and white because off the sombre nature of the story. Standing on its own, it is a fine film. I recommend it.
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HALL OF FAMEon June 11, 2009
Based on the historical, fact-based book by Rachel Field, 1940's ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO was Warner's prestige picture that year, geared as a showcase for their leading female star Bette Davis.

In 1840's France, young governess Henriette Deluzy-Desportes (Bette Davis) enters the employ of the Duc and Duchesse de Praslin (Charles Boyer and Barbara O'Neil). There she falls in love, first with the delightful de Praslin children, and again with the Duc himself. Disgusted and repulsed by his shrewish, zealot of a wife, the Duc greatly admires Henriette for her love and devotion to the children. Together they slowly create a private relationship which is never acted upon, though does ultimately ruin the de Praslin family, when Henriette is asked to leave in disgrace without references, and the Duc finally snaps...

Based on a real case of the period (which directly led to the toppling of the July Monarchy), ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO is a good example of how wonderfully restained Ms Davis could be when the character required it. Henriette is one of her finer performances from the period. Dreamy, handsome Charles Boyer can make anyone go weak at the knees and some of his close-ups in this movie are to die for. Barbara O'Neil (best-remembered for playing the dignified O'Hara matriarch in "Gone with the Wind" the previous year), chews the scenery in her tour-de-force, Academy Award-nominated turn as the Duchesse.

I must also mention the actors who played the de Praslin children, as they create some wonderful performances but yet are hardly mentioned in any review. June Lockhart, Virginia Weidler, Ann E. Todd and Richard Nichols are a pleasure to watch in every scene in which they appear. Little Richard Nichols would later tug at heartstrings again in 1941's Technicolor tearjerker "Blossoms in the Dust".

For Bette Davis fans, this is a no-brainer. Currently only available as part of Warner's third Bette Davis boxset collection, which also boasts "In This Our Life", "The Old Maid", "Deception", "Watch on the Rhine" and "The Great Lie".
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on November 30, 2003
All This and Heaven Too is a marvelous romantic film about a French duc's unspoken love for the governess of his childen. There's the neurotic wife to spoil things and the wife's faithful servant to act as her spy as well as the ascetic Roman Catholic spiritual advisor. Charles Boyer and Bette Davis do a great job of expresing their love for each other without words. This is old-fashioned filmaking at its best. A perfect movie for a foggy or rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The movie also speaks out against hypocrisy and keeping up appearances for the "sake'' of society. Highly recommended.
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