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Heaven Only Knows (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Heaven Only Knows
Directed byAlbert S. Rogell
Screenplay byArt Arthur
Rowland Leigh
Ernest Haycox (adaptation)
Based onan original story
by Aubrey Wisberg
Produced bySeymour Nebenzal
StarringRobert Cummings
Brian Donlevy
Marjorie Reynolds
CinematographyKarl Struss
Edited byEdward Mann
Music byHeinz Roemheld
Nero Films
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • September 12, 1947 (1947-09-12)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States

Heaven Only Knows is a 1947 American comedy Western fantasy film directed by Albert S. Rogell, starring Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy and Marjorie Reynolds.[1]


Due to an error in Heaven, Adam "Duke" Byron, is born without a soul in 1858. The "Book of Destiny" shows that he was supposed to marry a minister's daughter in 1885 and set a fine moral example. Instead, he is a saloon keeper and gambling hall owner in Glacier, Montana. As it was the fault of his department, Michael is sent in 1887 to set Duke on the life path for which he was destined, but Michael must do so as a human being, without miracles, not even a small one.

Michael encounters Bill Plummer. Plummer and Duke are rival saloon keepers and partners in a mining company, but due to a dispute between them, the mine is closed, leaving many of the townspeople destitute. Plummer has hired the Kansas City Kid, a gunslinger, to kill Duke. When Bill finds out that Duke knows about his plan, he gives Michael a lift into town and as Plummer hopes, Duke mistakes Michael for the Kid. Duke's satanic henchman, Treason, takes a shot at Michael, narrowly missing a young girl. Furious, parson's daughter and schoolmarm Drusilla Wainwright storms into the "Copper Queen", Duke's saloon, and slaps him.

Drusilla and most of the other residents want to take the law into their own hands to take back their town, but Sheriff Matt Bodine talks them into waiting until Plummer and Duke's men kill each other first.

Michael accidentally foils the Kid's attempt to shoot Duke. When Duke learns that the dead assassin is actually the Kansas City Kid, he believes that Michael is a smart, ambitious outlaw, so he hires him. Showgirl Ginger, Duke's girlfriend, takes a great liking to Michael; Treason hates him on sight.

Plummer sets fire to Duke's saloon, trapping him inside, with Plummer's men waiting for him to come out. Duke's secret passageway is locked from the outside, but Michael opens it and rescues him. They take refuge in the school. While they wait for darkness, they start talking to Drusilla. Duke admits that he feels that he is "meant for something ... something big, something important", not what he is doing now, but he does not know what it is. Before he leaves, Duke kisses Drusilla; she resists at first, but not for long.

In retaliation, Treason, who walked through the blaze unharmed, sets fire to Plummer's saloon. Speck O'Donnell, a sickly child Duke likes, is trapped inside. Michael goes in after him, but Duke follows, sends Michael out and rescues Speck.

Sheriff Bodine maneuvers Duke and Plummer into a showdown for sole ownership of the mine. Duke accepts the challenge, even though he is at a great disadvantage against skilled gunman Plummer. Duke is wounded, but Plummer is blinded by sunlight, perhaps by divine intervention. Speck runs to Duke, pursued by Judd, who is shot saving the boy. Duke manages to kill Plummer with his last shot. In a daze, he walks to the church, where Drusilla waits. Dying, Judd recognizes Michael.

With Plummer dead, vigilantes plot to lynch Duke. Drusilla persuades Duke to flee rather than shoot it out, but he insists he will only go if she comes with him. She agrees. Once they are safely away, she confesses her love but refuses to marry him. Thwarted, the mob decides to lynch Michael instead, but the horse he is on refuses to move. At the last minute, Duke rides back with Drusilla, to save Mike's life and reform. Treason vanishes. That night, Mike rides off on a special coach to Heaven, taking Speck with him. Speck's tearful mother somehow knows her child's fate.



The producer bought the rights to the story in July 1946 and Brian Donlevy was discussed as a star from the start.[2]

On November 26, 1946 the producer announced he had signed Cummings and Donlevy. Filming began 2 December.[3] Helen Walker was originally to have starred; because of her December 1946 auto accident, she was replaced by Marjorie Reynolds.[4]


The New York Times critic wrote that "On the whole 'Heaven Only Knows' comes through as a tolerable entertainment, with such good moral intentions that one may overlook its self-conscious awkwardness in this regard."[5] However, "Mr. Cummings, it seemed to us, never did quite make up his mind whether to be serious or plain supercilious as the detached Archangel Michael. Brian Donlevy as the Duke also never gets any conviction into his role."[5]


  1. ^ Heaven Only Knows: Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 14, Iss. 157 (Jan 1, 1947): 173.
  2. ^ Egypt's Tahia Carioca May Star in 'Salome' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 30 July 1946: A3.
  3. ^ "NEBENZAL TO FILM WESTERN PICTURE; Signs Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy for Leading Roles in 'Heaven Only Knows'". Retrieved 2020-05-02.
  4. ^ "Marge for Helen." New York Post, 9 January 1947.
  5. ^ a b T.m.p (1947-11-14). "Another Emissary Makes the Movies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-02.

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This page was last edited on 12 October 2021, at 15:27
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