IMDb > Stairway to Heaven (1946)
A Matter of Life and Death
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Stairway to Heaven (1946) More at IMDbPro »A Matter of Life and Death (original title)

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Up 3% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Michael Powell (written by) and
Emeric Pressburger (written by)
View company contact information for Stairway to Heaven on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
March 1947 (USA) See more »
Neither Heaven nor Earth could keep them apart! See more »
A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
3 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Wonderful See more (132 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

David Niven ... Peter Carter

Kim Hunter ... June
Robert Coote ... Bob

Kathleen Byron ... An Angel

Richard Attenborough ... An English Pilot
Bonar Colleano ... An American Pilot
Joan Maude ... Chief Recorder
Marius Goring ... Conductor 71

Roger Livesey ... Doctor Reeves
Robert Atkins ... The Vicar
Bob Roberts ... Dr. Gaertler
Edwin Max ... Dr. Mc.Ewen
Betty Potter ... Mrs. Tucker

Abraham Sofaer ... The Judge

Raymond Massey ... Abraham Farlan
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Arden ... GI Playing Bottom (uncredited)

Robert Beatty ... US Crewman (uncredited)
Tommy Duggan ... Patrick Aloyusius Mahoney (uncredited)
Erik ... Spaniel (uncredited)
John Huntley ... Extra in Celestial Courtroom (uncredited)

John Longden ... Narrator of introduction (uncredited) (voice)
Howard Marshall ... Cricket Commentator on Radio (voice) (uncredited)

Lois Maxwell ... Actress (uncredited)
Richard Nielson ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Wally Patch ... ARP Warden (uncredited)
Laurence Payne ... Prosecuting council[wearing Davy Crocket hat (uncredited)
Robert Rietty ... Man on Stairway (uncredited)
Roger Snowdon ... James Monahan (uncredited)
Spangle ... Spaniel (uncredited)
Wendy Thompson ... Nurse (uncredited)
Frederick Valk ... RAF Chaplain (uncredited)
Geoff van Rijssel ... Extra in Celestial Courtroom (uncredited)
Joan Verney ... Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
Michael Powell 
Emeric Pressburger 
Writing credits
Michael Powell (written by) and
Emeric Pressburger (written by)

Produced by
George R. Busby .... assistant producer (as George Busby)
Michael Powell .... producer
Emeric Pressburger .... producer
Original Music by
Allan Gray (music composed by)
Cinematography by
Jack Cardiff (photographed by)
Film Editing by
Reginald Mills 
Casting by
Pat MacDonnell (uncredited)
Adele Raymond (uncredited)
Production Design by
Alfred Junge (production designed by)
Costume Design by
Hein Heckroth 
Joseph Bato (uncredited)
Makeup Department
George Blackler .... makeup artist
Ida Mills .... hair stylist
Production Management
Robert C. Foord .... unit manager (as Robert C.Foord)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Parry Jones Jr. .... assistant director
Paul Kelly .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Laurie Knight .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Pat Marsden .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Arthur Lawson .... assistant art director
Joseph Bato .... assistant painter (uncredited)
William Hutchinson .... draughtsman (uncredited)
William Kellner .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Terence Morgan II .... assistant property maker (uncredited)
Don Picton .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Roger Ramsdell .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Sound Department
C.C. Stevens .... sound recorder
Michael Colomb .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Peter Davies .... dubbing sound camera (uncredited)
Roy Day .... sound maintenance (uncredited)
John Dennis .... pre-dubbing (uncredited)
Desmond Dew .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
David Hildyard .... boom operator (uncredited)
Harold Rowland .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
G. Sanders .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Alan Whatley .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Special Effects by
W. Percy Day .... additional effects (as Percy Day)
Henry Harris .... special effects
Douglas Woolsey .... special effects
William C. Andrews .... special effects (uncredited)
George Blackwell .... additional effects (uncredited)
Stanley Grant .... additional effects (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Peter Ellenshaw .... assistant matte artist (uncredited)
Stanley Grant .... special photographic effects (uncredited)
Jack Whitehead .... back projection (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Geoffrey Unsworth .... camera operator
Bill Wall .... chief electrician (as William Wall)
Dick Allport .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Eric Besche .... focus puller (uncredited)
Jim Body .... focus puller (uncredited)
Christopher Challis .... second assistant camera (uncredited)
Fred Daniels .... still photographer: portraits (uncredited)
Eric Gray .... still photographer (uncredited)
George Minassian .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Johnnie von Klotze .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Editorial Department
David Powell .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Walter Goehr .... conductor
Lambert Williamson .... assistant conductor (as W.L. Williamson)
Other crew
Joan Bridge .... associate colour control
Michael C. Chorlton .... motor-bike shots (as MichaelChorlton)
Natalie Kalmus .... colour control
J. Arthur Rank .... presents (as J.Arthur Rank)
John Seabourne Jr. .... liaison editor
Alan Brook .... advisor: table tennis (uncredited)
Alan Brook .... trainer: table tennis (uncredited)
Andrew Donally .... support team (uncredited)
Bernard Kaplan .... technical advisor: operating theatre (uncredited)
Vivienne Knight .... publicist (uncredited)
Ainslie L'evine .... assistant continuity (uncredited)
Bunny Parsons .... continuity (uncredited)
Bill Paton .... assistant: Mr Powell (uncredited)
Maggie Unsworth .... continuity (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Archers, The (as A Production of the Archers London England)
DistributorsSpecial Effects

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"A Matter of Life and Death" - UK (original title)
See more »
Rated PG for thematic elements (re-rating) (1995)
104 min
Black and White (Dye-Monochrome) | Color (colour) (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Finland:S (1987) | Finland:K-16 (1947) | Ireland:G | Portugal:M/12 | Spain:T | UK:A (original rating) (passed with cuts) | UK:U (tv rating) | UK:U (re-release) (2005) | UK:U (re-release) (re-rating) (2000) | UK:U (video rating) (1995) (uncut) | USA:Approved (PCA #11724) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | USA:PG (re-rating) (1995) | West Germany:16

Did You Know?

The first scene shot was David Niven washing up on the beach. Originally planned to fade in from black, Michael Powell decided on the spot that the effect would be too cheesy. When Jack Cardiff told him to look through the camera, Cardiff then deliberately breathed right onto the lens, which fogged the glass for a few seconds until it evaporated. Powell loved the idea and had him use it for the shot.See more »
Revealing mistakes: 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 »
[first lines]
Narrator:This is the universe. Big, isn't it.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in L.A. Without a Map (1998)See more »
ScherzoSee more »


Did it really happen?
Did they use CGI?
See more »
43 out of 48 people found the following review useful.
Wonderful, 22 April 2004
Author: btillman63 from Arizona

Enchanting, romantic, innovative, and funny. The vision of this extraordinary film is almost unparalleled, exceeding better known "death romances" such as Ghost. While we know intuitively that Peter and June will find ultimate happiness at the end of that long-long stairway, the joy is in the journey. The moral of the tale, of course, is timeless: love conquers all. But the struggle to achieve that victory is played in a celestial arena of sweeping vision and gripping grandeur. With more than 500 suitably clad extras portraying various ages and cultures, the directors' vision of heaven remains memorable six decades later, far into the CGI era.

Yet for all the cosmic scale, Powell and Pressburger knew an essential truth: the best story is told at the smallest level. The wonderfully, determinedly romantic aspect of "Stairway" is captured with ultimate simplicity: June's teardrop, preserved on a rose petal.

This film, like the story and the set itself, is one for the ages.

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