Bette Davis and the great French actor Charles Boyer co-star in this 1940 film about a virtuous governess and a lonely Duke who is the father of four children.

Henriette (Davis) comes to work for the Duke and Duchess de Praslin and is immediately a success with their four children. But as the Duchess’ emotional outbursts estrange her children and husband, she becomes suspicious of the new governess. As the Duchess pushes her husband away, she pushes him right into the arms of the devoted governess. The two dance around the feelings of mutual attraction, but both are too proper to act on their feelings.

Nevertheless, the Duchess imagines a scandal between the Duke and governess and fires Henriette. She promises her a letter of recommendation so that she can find another job, but then never comes through on her promise.

Henriette’s name has been soiled by the air of scandal and she is unable to find work without the letter. The Duke visits her with the children and sees her current living conditions, which are dreadful. He immediately goes home and confronts his wife. She reveals her true feelings and in a rage, the Duke kills her.

This movie is somewhat slow in pace, but the performances overall are great. There are several familiar faces in the film. Virginia Weidler, who portrays one of the Duke’s four children, costars alongside Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story as the younger sister of Tracy Lord (Hepburn). Barbara O’Neil from Gone with the Wind (she played the matriarch of the O’Hara family) played the Duchess de Praslin. The other child actors are a highlight of the film and are quite adorable.

It was very different to see Bette Davis in a role in which her character is more reserved. Usually she is taking command of every scene by force, but in this film she quietly, but not too meekly, stands up for herself against the paranoid wife of the Duke. She is fiercely protective of the children whom she grows to love as she cares for them.

Boyer is also great as the father who is struggling to balance his duties to the king and his children. It is evident how much he loves his children, but cannot see how much his wife loves and needs him.

All This and Heaven Too is a great story about a typical family of the time period that struggled with balancing family, social obligations and work.

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