Heaven Only Knows (1947)

Article #789 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-13-2003
Posting Date: 10-10-2003
Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Featuring Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy, Jurja Curtright

Title check: Since the phrase is used at certain key moments in the film, it’s an appropriate title, a little better than it’s alternate title of MONTANA MIKE (IMHO).

An angel makes a bookkeeping error that causes a man to live a life without a soul. He then must go to Earth to get that man back on the path to his proper destiny.

Yep, it’s another angel movie. Angels are such potentially corny figures that I’m actually surprised how many very good movies were made about them. It might be that Hollywood knew how corny they were, and found ways around that problem by emphasizing their human qualities rather than the harps, halos and wings. They also knew who to cast in these roles, going for charming rather than saintly actors, and though Robert Cummings isn’t Cary Grant, he does all right. The real acting kudos here goes to Brian Donlevy as the man without a soul; his conflicts seem genuine and he never comes across as cliched. Actually, there is a rather powerful charm to this one, and it’s rather unusual for this type of movie in that it takes place in the old west. There are some memorable and surprisingly powerful moments here, at least one wonderful and subtle revelation as to the identity of one of Brian’s henchmen, and there are some memorable quotes here, in particular a wonderful line about death near the end of the movie that made me want to grab a pencil and paper to write it down. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth a look.

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