Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 4, No. 1 March 12, 1941
At first glance "All This and Heaven Too" might seem interesting chiefly as showing how the really fine acting of Charles Boyer and Bette Davis can save from tediousness, the spectacle of the due de Praslin, his governess and his insanely jealous wife being frustrated over some 13,000 feet of film.
But the theme and its handling are really profoundly significant—just how significant we can realize only when we remember that the film is the work of Warner Bros, who have in the past achieved a well-deserved reputation for the progressive and socially relevant character of their productions. For throughout this film the attitude of the two principal characters becomes increasingly one of hopelessness and surrender in the face of feudal conventions. Finally Praslin breaks under the strain and in a spasm of blind violence murders his wife. Subsequent to which the two lovers leave France—Praslin for Heaven with strychnine, the governess for the United States with a Yankee parson.
Now "star-crossed lovers" are no new theme in the film or any other form of art but there are certain features about "All This and Heaven Too" which lend them a peculiar significance. For in this case we have not only the escape into the past and the morbid subjectivism that were so typical of the German film in the years following the war but we are faced with a situation which we know from the beginning must end in tragedy and in which every moment of happiness is shadowed by the approach of disaster. In this, of course, it reflects the increasingly strong current of thought that can see no escape from the horror of fascism and war and can suggest nothing but to laugh and love until the S.S. men arrive. To people who have adopted this attitude the frustration and suffering of the Praslin household, with its final catastrophe, will be profoundly moving since it will be to them not a hundred year old French society scandal but a reflection of their own lives and their own philosophy.—Candide.