“They just don’t make’em like they used to” – a common refrain for an old grouser like me. Although I have my gripes with Netflix, I’m gratified that they continue to cycle older (cheaper to license) films in their mission to cater to all audiences.
The other day I streamed Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, a WWII flick made in 1957. The film tells the story of the goonish but good-hearted and patriotic U.S. Marine Corporal Allison, who winds up on a semi-deserted island somewhere in the Pacific after an attack on the submarine to which he was deployed. Soon after, he encounters Sister Angela, a novice nun who was abandoned on the island following an attempt at rescuing a resident priest.
I won’t give away all the details of the story, but one of the main struggles the pair deals with are the feelings Allison develops for Sister Angela during their time together. Ultimately she rebuffs him, saying that despite not yet taking her final vows, she has already devoted herself to Christ. Trying to understand, Allison draws the analogy of a married couple’s engagement period.
Suffice it to say the issue ultimately resurfaces before its resolution, and Allison and the good Sister are also faced with the challenge of trying to survive as a Japanese force arrives to reoccupy the island.
The movie’s climax, however, finds Corporal Allison being called by God in a different way, and finally making peace with Sister Angela’s decision.
Although it’s a lesser known film, I’d definitely suggest giving it a watch. I found the ending particularly striking given the current zeitgeist. I’m sure modern audiences would be rooting for Sister Angela to forsake her vows and pursue a romance with Allison. But back then movies were more apt to point out that there is more value in a love that reaches beyond the self.