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Stairway to Heaven (1946)
"A Matter of Life and Death" (original title)

 -  Drama | Fantasy | Romance  -  March 1947 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 11,641 users  
Reviews: 126 user | 63 critic

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

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Title: Stairway to Heaven (1946)

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Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Robert Coote ...
Bob
...
...
An English Pilot
Bonar Colleano ...
An American Pilot
Joan Maude ...
Chief Recorder
Marius Goring ...
Conductor 71
...
Doctor Reeves
Robert Atkins ...
The Vicar
Bob Roberts ...
Dr. Gaertler
Edwin Max ...
Dr. Mc.Ewen
Betty Potter ...
Mrs. Tucker
...
The Judge
...
Edit

Storyline

Returning to England from a bombing run in May 1945, flyer Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself. He gets on the radio, and talks to June, a young American woman working for the USAAF, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Then he jumps, preferring this to burning up with his plane. He wakes up in the surf. It was his time to die, but there was a mixup in heaven. They couldn't find him in all that fog. By the time his "Conductor" catches up with him 20 hours later, Peter and June have met and fallen in love. This changes everything, and since it happened through no fault of his own, Peter figures that heaven owes him a second chance. Heaven agrees to a trial to decide his fate. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A motion picture beyond all wonder! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

March 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Matter of Life and Death  »

Box Office

Budget:

£320,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Dye-Monochrome)| (colour) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The huge escalator linking this World with the Other, called "Operation Ethel" by the firm of engineers who constructed her under the aegis of the London Passenger Transport Board, took three months to make and cost 3,000 pounds (in 1946). "Ethel" had 106 steps each 20 feet wide and was driven by a 12 h.p. engine. The full shot was completed by hanging miniatures. See more »

Goofs

After Peter's second encounter with the Heavenly Messenger, this time in Frank's library, the doctor and June desperately attend to Peter's condition. June kneels in front of Peter and begins to giggle uncontrollably, then expertly hides herself behind Frank to avoid the camera. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: This is the universe. Big, isn't it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Foreword (Scrolled up the screen at the start of the film): This is a story of two worlds the one we know and another which exists only in the mind of a young airman whose life & imagination have been violently shaped by war [Pauses, then scrolls up to reveal] Any resemblance to any other world known or unknown is purely coincidental. See more »

Connections

Referenced in When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Staircase Theme
Composed by Allan Gray
Recurring theme
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Timeless Classic
21 December 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Few movies can be viewed almost 60 years later, yet remain as engrossing as this one. Technological advances have not dated this classic love story. Special effects used are remarkable for a 1946 movie. The acting is superb. David Niven, Kim Hunter and especially Roger Livesey do an outstanding job. The use of Black and White / Color adds to the creative nature of the movie. It hasn't been seen on television for 20 years so few people are even aware of its existence. It is my favorite movie of all time. Waiting and hoping for the DVD release of this movie for so many years is, in itself, "A Matter of Life and Death".


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