Thursday, January 16, 2014

All This and Heaven Too

I adored this film based on the lives of Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, Charles Laure Hugues Théobald the Duc de Choiseul-Praslin, and his wife Frances.  Bette Davis plays the governess Henriette, who leaves England for a new life as governess for the Duc and his family.  

Henriette adores the new children she is ward for.  She soon finds herself in love with Praslin, played by Charles Boyer.  Who else would you cast as a French aristocrat?  He plays it to perfection, of course.  Duc loves Henriette as well.  The only problem is he is married.

His wife is played by the lovely Barbara O'Neil.  This is only the second film I recall seeing her in, the other being as Mother O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, but she certainly shines in this one.  While several sources say she did not want to play the wife as glamorous, I love her portrayal as such.  She is elegant and lovely, yet the viewer still feels like the Duc really should be with Henriette.

I won't spoil the ending for those whom have not viewed it yet, but I was startled by the ending.  It was very shocking, yet it seemed like the perfect ending for the film.  In fact, it was quite refreshing and realistic.  

One of the novelties of the film is that it is mostly a flashback.  Henriette is starting a new position in a school and word of her notorious past has reached her students.  The students begin to humiliate her, so she tells them her story in the hope she will gain order and sympathy.  While an intriguing concept, I don't think this would work in real life.  A lot of people aren't so forgiving.    

Cathay Circle Theater from Maybelline Story

A fantastic blog, The Maybelline Story, has an entry from Joan Allen's diary on the day of the premiere.  It is a fantastic insight into the life of those in the industry.  Sharrie Williams, a descendant of the founders of Maybelline, gives the contents of Joan Allen's day by hour and includes the celebrities Allen saw.  It's amazing to hear about all the greats that were out on that night.

If you want to catch the film, it is on DVD in the Bette Davis Collection 3 or on TCM February 21, 2014 at 5:00 am est.

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