Today is Veterans Day, so I would like to thank all the veterans who read this for their fearless and selfless service in defense of our country. Yesterday and today, J-Dub of Dubsism and Gill Jacobs of ReelWeegieMidget Reviews are hosting The Send in the Marines Blogathon. This blogathon is intended to commemorate the 244th anniversary of the foundation of the United States Marine Corps, which was yesterday. In honor of this special day for Marines, bloggers are invited to celebrate all things Marine by writing about movies and television shows which feature Marines and actors who actually served as Marines.
The best movie which I think I have ever seen about the Marine Corps is Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison from 1957. Starring Robert Mitchum as a tough Marine during World War II who is stranded on an island with a Catholic nun played by Deborah Kerr, this John Huston-directed film is a masterpiece. Without reservation, I can state that it is one of the best Shurlock Era movies I have ever seen. In terms of acting, direction, story, filmography, and Code compliance, it is truly excellent.
I consider this movie a “perfect un-Code film.” This is the term I use for movies which were made outside the Breen Era (1934-1954) but are Code-compliant nonetheless. It especially applies to Shurlock Era films, since the Code was supposed to be in place at the time. Although the decency standard quickly declined after Joseph Breen’s retirement in 1954, some of the self-regulators still worked hard to enforce the Code. In many cases of good or perfect un-Code films, they came about just because the filmmakers wanted to make decent movies.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison has a high standard of decency because it was rigorously self-regulated by Jack Vizzard, who was second in command during Geoffrey Shurlock’s fourteen-year tenure as head Production Code administrator. In his 1970 memoirs, See No Evil: Life Inside a Hollywood Censor, he described his extensive and interesting involvement with this film in great detail. Since he was a Catholic, he was selected as the self-regulator for this film. John Huston was especially eager for his advice on Catholic clergy and protocol because Mr. Vizzard had studied to be a priest for years before joining the PCA.
There was a lot of foreign work on this film, so Mr. Vizzard got to travel to two interesting locations. First, he went to Mexico to help director John Huston and screenplay writer John Lee Mahin, his personal friend, with some religious and self-regulatory difficulties in the script. Mr. Huston was working south of the border because he couldn’t return to the United States due to tax problems. He helped the two Jacks solve a lot of problems in the stage. However, by the time the crew went to Trinidad and Tobago for filming, they ran into more problems in the story. Thus, they sent for Jack Vizzard again. He flew to meet them, and he provided several vital elements in the finished film. To me, this was his shining moment as a self-regulator. His work on this movie shows what a good Code-enforcer he could be when he worked hard at it. Self-regulating this movie was the brightest hour of his twenty-four year career at the PCA.
Click the above image to buy this fascinating book on Amazon and read all the stories about this film for yourself!
I love the character of Corporal Allison. Robert Mitchum is perfect in this role. He is real in this part. He is tough yet tender. I love his respectfulness for the lovely and devout Sister Angela. He is a clear example of a young man whose life was set on the right track by his service in the military. He was an orphan with little guidance. When he joined the Marine Corps, he finally had a direction for his life. It gave him accountability and a sense of belonging. He compares his involvement in the Marine Corps with Sister Angela’s devotion to the Catholic Church. Ultimately, the irreligious Marine comes to understand the seriousness of the beautiful young nun’s vows because of his own dedication to the Corps. They resist temptation because, first and foremost, she is a nun, and he is a Marine. His first and greatest commitment is to his country, and to that he must always be faithful.
Happy Veterans Day!
Click the above image to buy this movie on DVD at Amazon and support PEPS through the Amazon Affiliate program!
This year, PEPS is celebrating the holidays with a blogathon! It is called The Happy Holidays Blogathon, and it will run December 6-8. It is all about films which feature the winter holidays. Eligible holidays include Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, News Years, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Epiphany, Russian Christmas, and Russian New Years! Whether it is just one scene or the whole film, this is your chance to write about your favorite holiday movies!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!