First off, I’d like to apologize for the Netflix. If you decide to rent All This, and Heaven Too from them, do not read their summery on the envelope, unless you want the surprises spoiled for you. It was poor judgment on their part to put such a pivotal moment, that doesn’t happen until nearly the second hour, in the printed summary. Now that we’ve cleared that bit of foul air, we can move along.
All This, and Heaven Too is the story of Henriette Deluzy-Desportes (Bette Davis), a young woman trying to move on from a horrible past. In the present, she has just started as a new school teacher, but some students recognize her from some sort of scandalous rumors. Realizing the rumors flying around her classroom, she decides to clear the air and tell her class the whole story. From there the film goes into flashback, and the real story.
Henriette moved to Paris to become a governess for a prestigious family. She takes care of the children for the Duc and Duchesse de Praslin. From the moment Henriette arrives, she can tell the marriage is extremely strained. Still, she is true to her duties and even nurses their youngest child and only son from a near death illness. Her care through such a crisis earns her the affections of all the children and the father (Charles Boyer). But the mother can only see Henriette as a threatening wedge driving between her and her family.
It seems that Henriette has the easiest job in the world, since the kids are perfect little angels. There are four of them, between the approximate ages of thirteen and four. Each of them is obedient, adorable and their affection to their governess grows by the minute.
I guess the children had to be a wonderful as possible to contrast against their mother, the Duchesse. She was played by Barbara O’Neil and earned a nomination for Best actress. Excuse the language, but she played a hell of a bitch. The Duchesse is so paranoid and clingy towards her husband, it’s no wonder he tries to find an escape. Showing love toward her children is not an easy task for her. Her son actually becomes to deathly ill because she insists taking him out on a carriage ride, knowing that he was already sniffling. Worst of all, she forces him to ride backwards, a way that always makes him sick. By the time that her jealousy starts to boil, the viewers have little sympathy left for her.
But we always root for Henriette, through all the trials she faces, and that’s what makes this film so great. We, the viewers always know who is right and wrong, so when things get messy, we become emotionally charged.
All This, and Heaven Too is a delightful little gem to dust off. The film is suitable for most ages and with fellow kids to watch, little ones are more likely to sit through it.
“Happiness isn’t a little cake which we can cut up to fill our appetites.”