All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Romantic Drama, Marriage Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 13, 1940 (USA)  |   Run Time - 143 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

All This and Heaven Too may not be great drama, but it's a jim-dandy melodrama -- the kind of "women's picture" that's a real guilty pleasure. It has all the ingredients that a romance flick of this kind needs, from a tortured but noble heroine who suffers for the sins of others to a charming and unfortunate hero to an incredible harridan of a wife who makes life miserable for the both of them. Throw in some snotty schoolgirls who learn a valuable lesson in life, some adorable children, a few crises narrowly averted, a suicide, and a close call with the law, and there's more than enough to keep one glued to the screen, even when things stretch credulity a bit. Casey Robinson's screenplay is a great deal of fun, as well as being very well structured and providing the stars with some juicy parts to sink their teeth into. Bette Davis and Charles Boyer are near perfect as the lovers-that-cannot-be, but it's Barbara O'Neil as the wicked wife that gets highest marks for her deeply committed and immensely enjoyable performance. As a matter of fact, of the cast, only the annoying Jeffrey Lynn -- whose subtext for almost every line seems to be "Gee whiz! Isn't that exciting!" -- fails to satisfy. Anatole Litvak has directed with style and panache, assisted by Ernest Haller's dramatic lensing and Max Steiner's glorious score. Heaven is ultimately a little too artificial (by design) to be a great film, but it's thoroughly entertaining.