CinemaLit: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) | Mechanics' Institute

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CinemaLit: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
CinemaLit November 2023: – Full Color Dramas

Friday, November 3, 2023 - 6:00pm

November 3 – Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), 107 minutes, directed by John Huston, starring Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum.

John Huston, director of The African Queen (1951), brought another story of two mismatched people in danger to the screen. In Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Robert Mitchum is a rough-hewn marine and Deborah Kerr is a demure Irish nun. They're unlikely companions, hiding on a remote island in the South Pacific during World War II. There are sequences of considerable suspense, but Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is foremost an intimate character study and a sweetly tender love story told against the backdrop of war. Kerr and Mitchum create fantastic chemistry in this neglected gem, and were reunited on screen later on three occasions.

November 2023: CinemaLit – Full Color Dramas

This month at CinemaLit we feature a pair of films made when Hollywood was on edge. In the 1950s, television was threatening the theatrical film business, and producers were ready to take chances. New big screen technologies were introduced to lure audiences. Widescreen and saturated color began as novelties, but soon became standard. Our films this month aren't the era's biggest new technology spectacles (that would be The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur), but they did exploit the beauties of the widescreen format. Both effectively use a large canvas to tell their intimate stories of complex human relations. Come enjoy the still stirring Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) and Lust for Life (1956).


Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


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