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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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Overview

User Rating:
8.1/10   11,414 votes »
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Up 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Michael Powell (written by) and
Emeric Pressburger (written by)
Contact:
View company contact information for Stairway to Heaven on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
March 1947 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Neither Heaven nor Earth could keep them apart! See more »
Plot:
A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
3 wins See more »
NewsDesk:
(2 articles)
English Heritage honours London flat that was base for Powell and Pressburger
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 17 February 2014, 4:31 PM, PST)

Ill Met By Moonlight
 (From GreenCine. 11 October 2011, 12:22 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Between heaven and earth See more (126 total) »

Cast

  (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 Snowden ... 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
Joseph Bato (uncredited)
Hein Heckroth (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
George Blackler .... make-up
Ida Mills .... hair styles
 
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)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Hein Heckroth .... costumes
 
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 »
MPAA:
Rated PG for thematic elements (re-rating) (1995)
Runtime:
104 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Black and White (Dye-Monochrome) | Color (colour) (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:
Finland:K-16 | 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?

Trivia:
The lines Carter quotes to June as from "His Pilgrimage" by Sir Walter Raleigh and "To his Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: The prologue narrator refers to stars and regions of gas between them, then says that "the starlight makes the gas transparent, and where there are no stars, it appears as dark obscuring clouds." Transparency is actually caused not by starlight but by the absence of dust; starlight will either have no effect on the appearance of gas, or will cause it to be illuminated or perhaps to fluoresce. Dark obscuring clouds are those that contain dust and are not illuminated.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Narrator:This is the universe. Big, isn't it.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Colour Merchant (1998) (V)See more »
Soundtrack:
ScherzoSee more »

FAQ

Did it really happen?
Did they use CGI?
See more »
33 out of 39 people found the following review useful.
Between heaven and earth, 19 September 2005
Author: jotix100 from New York

The great talents of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger are noticeable in their wonderful "A Matter of Life and Death". It was part of the recent tribute to Mr. Powell that played at the Walter Reade in New York. This film, in particular, shows us one of the best British films from that, or any other era.

"A Matter of Life and Death" has a brilliant cinematography by Jack Cardiff, a man who knew how to work wonders with a camera. Particularly impressive is the contrast from the monochromatic tones given to the scenes played in heaven, and the colored ones when the action comes back to earth. This was quite a coup, and well ahead of its times. The black and white sequence that involves the long staircase where Peter and the Conductor are chatting has to be one of the most amazing things on any film.

Much has been said in this forum about the film, so our comment will be about the great acting Powell and Pressberger got out of the large, distinguished cast, who responded magnificently to the directors' guidance.

David Niven, is Peter, whose aircraft is hit and his best friend dies as a result of it. This film marked one of the highlights in Mr. Niven's career. He was an excellent film actor as he shows us in this movie. Kim Hunter is surprisingly good as June, the woman who talked to Peter as his plane was falling from the skies. As fate would have it, Peter and June fall in love at first sight.

Some of the best British film actors grace this film with their presence. Robert Coote, is Bob, the man who is admitted to heaven, but he is surprised his friend Peter never made the trip with him. An excellent star turn by Marius Goring, who as the Conductor 71 steals the film. Mr. Goring, who had worked with the directors, is one of the best things in the movie. Also, Roger Livesey, as Dr. Frank Reeves, does one of the best appearances of his career, as well as Raymond Massey, who is seen as Abraham Farlan.

"A Matter of Life and Death" is a timeless film that will always be seen with gratitude toward its creators.

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