All This and Heaven Too
An incredibly long but never dull adaptation of the Rachel Field best-seller, All This and Heaven Too was based on a once-notorious European scandal. Star Bette Davis, playing Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, is first seen as a French schoolteacher in a 19th century American seminary. When her supervisor, Reverend Henry Mortyn Field (Jeffrey Lynn), has questions to ask about her tainted past, Henriette relates her story in flashback. She had been hired by French duke De Praslin (Charles Boyer) to be the governess for his children. De Praslin's wife (Barbara O'Neil) was insanely jealous, so much so she inadvertently threw De Praslin and Henriette together. Henriette was willing to leave rather than cause more discord, but the influential wife vengefully refused to write a letter of recommendation (a bravura scene). Later, the impoverished Henriette was arrested as an accomplice in the murder of De Praslin's wife. The latter's position in French society stirred up volatile political ramifications, with Henriette innocently in the center of the storm. De Praslin committed suicide, exonerating Henriette on his deathbed, but she had already been condemned in the court of public opinion. Disgraced, she left for America to start life anew, which brings the story back to the present. Unable to continue running away from herself, Henriette confesses her past indiscretions to her students -- who promptly forgive her. Casey Robinson had a hell of a job adapting Rachel Field's cumbersome novel, but, by golly, he pulled it off. The performances in All This and Heaven Too are enhanced immeasurably by the lush Max Steiner musical score.