IMDb > Heavens Above! (1963)
Heavens Above!
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Heavens Above! (1963) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
6.8/10   755 votes »
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Up 31% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
John Boulting (screenplay)
John Boulting (story)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Heavens Above! on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
23 May 1963 (UK) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A minister is accidentally appointed to a snobbish parish. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. See more »
User Reviews:
Tough-Minded Religious Satire See more (20 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Peter Sellers ... The Rev. John Smallwood
Cecil Parker ... Archdeacon Aspinall

Isabel Jeans ... Lady Despard
Ian Carmichael ... The Other Smallwood

Bernard Miles ... Simpson

Brock Peters ... Matthew Robinson

Eric Sykes ... Harry Smith
Irene Handl ... Rene Smith
Miriam Karlin ... Winnie Smith
Joan Miller ... Mrs. Smith-Gould
Miles Malleson ... Rockeby
Eric Barker ... Bank Manager

William Hartnell ... Major Fowler

Roy Kinnear ... Fred Smith
Joan Hickson ... Housewife
Kenneth Griffith ... Rev. Owen Thomas
Mark Eden ... Sir Geoffrey Despard
John Comer ... Butcher
Basil Dignam ... Prisoner Governor
Franklyn Engelman ... TV Commentator
Colin Gordon ... Prime Minister
Geoffrey Hibbert ... Council Official
Joan Heal ... Disgruntled Housewife
Ludovic Kennedy ... Himself
Marjie Lawrence ... Quarrelling Housewife (as Margery Lawrence)
Harry Locke ... Shop Steward
Henry B. Longhurst ... Deaf Gentleman
Joan Matheson ... Cast Member
Malcolm Muggeridge ... Cleric
Derek Nimmo ... Director-General's Assistant
Conrad Phillips ... P.R.O.
Nicholas Phipps ... Director-General
Cardew Robinson ... Tramp
Gerald Sim ... Self-Service Store Manager
Olive Sloane ... Quarreling Housewife
Marianne Stone ... Miss Palmer
Elsie Wagstaff ... Lady on Parish Church Council
Thorley Walters ... Tranquilax Executive
Ian Wilson ... Salvation Army Major
George Woodbridge ... Bishop
Josephine Woodford ... Doris Smith
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ronald Adam ... Cabinet Minister #1 (uncredited)
Rodney Bewes ... Milkfloat Driver (uncredited)
Tim Brinton ... TV Commentator (uncredited)
Peggy Ann Clifford ... Bit Part, Crowd Scene (uncredited)
Ed Devereaux ... Communications Officer (uncredited)
John Glyn-Jones ... Professor (uncredited)
Nora Gordon ... Old lady in garden (uncredited)
Fred Griffiths ... Angry Man in Crowd Scene (uncredited)
John Harvey ... Wilson, Prison Officer (uncredited)
Drewe Henley ... Doris' Boy Friend (uncredited)
Rose Hill ... Woman (uncredited)
John Junkin ... Reporter at Space Launch Site (uncredited)
Barry Keegan ... Angry Man in Crowd Scene (uncredited)
Margaret Lacey ... Molly (uncredited)
Louis Mansi ... Man Buying Groceries (uncredited)
Steve Marriott ... Jack (uncredited)
Richard McNeff ... Police Inspector (uncredited)
Billy Milton ... Fellowes (uncredited)
Arthur Mullard ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Howard Pays ... Astronaut (uncredited)
Guy Kingsley Poynter ... American commentator (uncredited)
Frank Sieman ... Baptist - Food Queue (uncredited)
Keith Smith ... Leslie Hughes (uncredited)
Rita Tobin-Weske ... Lady at Church Door (uncredited)
Russell Waters ... Bit Part, Cabinet Office (uncredited)
Fred Wood ... Protester (uncredited)
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Directed by
John Boulting 
Roy Boulting 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Boulting  screenplay
John Boulting  story
Frank Harvey  screenplay
Frank Harvey  story
Malcolm Muggeridge  idea

Produced by
John Boulting .... producer
Roy Boulting .... producer
 
Original Music by
Richard Rodney Bennett 
 
Cinematography by
Mutz Greenbaum  (as Max Greene)
 
Film Editing by
Teddy Darvas 
 
Art Direction by
Albert Witherick 
 
Costume Design by
David Ffolkes 
 
Makeup Department
Gerry Fletcher .... makeup artist
Stuart Freeborn .... makeup artist
Barbara Ritchie .... hair stylist
 
Production Management
Michael F. Johnson .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Derek Cracknell .... assistant director
Henry Emery .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Malcolm Johnson .... third assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Robert Cartwright .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Peter Childs .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Alan Evans .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Roy Walker .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Frank Willson .... draughtsman (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Chris Greenham .... dubbing editor
Red Law .... dubbing mixer
George Stephenson .... sound recordist (as George Stevenson)
Jack Davies .... boom operator (uncredited)
David Lenham .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Brian Marshall .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Brian Paxton .... sound maintenance (uncredited)
Vorke Scarlett .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Bob Cuff .... matte painter (uncredited)
John Mackey .... model photography (uncredited)
John Mackey .... travelling matte (uncredited)
George Samuels .... model photography (uncredited)
George Samuels .... travelling matte (uncredited)
Wally Veevers .... model photography (uncredited)
Wally Veevers .... travelling matte (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Peter Allwork .... camera operator
Gerry Elliott .... focus puller (uncredited)
Geoff Meldrum .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Laurie Ridley .... still photographer (uncredited)
Ray Sieman .... clapper loader (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Bill Garlic .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
John Poyner .... assembly cutter (uncredited)
David Woodward .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
John Hollingsworth .... conductor
 
Other crew
Olga Brook .... continuity
Harold Ironmonger .... consultant (as Rev. Harold Ironmonger)
Theo Richmond .... production assistant to producer
Derek Robbins .... publicist (uncredited)
Dee Vaughan .... production secretary (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
118 min | USA:105 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Certification:
Australia:PG | Australia:X (original rating) | Finland:S | Iceland:L | Sweden:Btl | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (video rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The voice over at the beginning is Peter Sellers. He also provided one of the voices heard on a television sequence.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: One of Lady Despard's dogs relieves itself against Smallwood's boot, as he is refused admission by Simpson the butler. A small puddle is left on a flagstone. From a different angle Smallwood is then seen wiping one boot against the other. There is though no puddle.See more »
Quotes:
Simpson:Anytime you hear someone quoting from the bible - better watch out - it's probably the devil himself!See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Calling All WorkersSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
8 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Tough-Minded Religious Satire, 7 May 2009
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States

"Heavens Above!" is a barbed satire that cuts both ways, ridiculing organized religion for its complacence and its unrealistic aspirations and humanism regarding the perfectibility of man, especially the working-class kind. Though far from the funniest Peter Sellers comedy, it certainly is worthy in its own unique way.

Sellers plays Rev. John Smallwood, an Anglican prison chaplain accidentally assigned to the affluent community of Orbiston Parva. A sincere man of faith, Smallwood tries to drum up a little church fervor from his largely lapsed congregation, preaching the Gospel as Living Word rather than as aural wallpaper for weddings and funerals. Yet every earnest effort only stokes greater amounts of selfishness, even brutality.

"There aren't enough real Christians about to feed a decent lion," Smallwood laments.

At the same time, he must deal with the miserable quality of the clergy around him, like his own bosses in the Church of England hierarchy who strain only to keep their rich donor base happy and generous or the odd Pentecostal preacher who offers up damnation-filled sermons: "It's only the fires of hell that keep the churches warm."

"Heavens Above!" is a comedy of despair. If there is a God, it seems to say, He has better sense than to waste His time with blighted human riffraff like the Smiths, an itinerant family who leeches off Smallwood while feigning piety. Sellers is terrific, though in a largely straight performance, pulling us in with his naive gentility to the point where a lot of the gags turn painful when he is the butt of humor. The closest Sellers gets to laugh-getting - other than when Smallwood unknowingly snacks from a bowl of dog treats - is the opening, where he provides an uncredited voice-over as an American narrator introducing us to the uninspiring sight of Orbiston Parva. However much he stumbles and is tripped up, Smallwood is simply too nice a character to laugh at.

For all the apparent agnosticism in "Heavens Above", there's a strain of true religious belief in Smallwood's situation. Perhaps it's because the idea came from Malcolm Muggeridge, the last faith-friendly satirist England has produced. Smallwood is presented as a man of good works, but also doctrinal zeal. His scorn for the local pep-pill product "Tranquilax", it seems, is largely due to its proclaiming itself the "three-in-one restorative". For him, the only 3-in-1 restorative is the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

"Heavens Above!" is also interesting for the fact it catches Sellers just on the cusp of becoming an international star, still relatively round in body, making one of his last films aimed exclusively at his home British market. Like the later "Hoffman" and "Being There", this shows just how well Sellers could carry a film without resorting to silly accents or slapstick.

The film's directors, John and Roy Boulting, do well to set Sellers up with an ace supporting cast recognizable from other Sellers productions of the period, including George Woodbridge and Cecil Parker as a pair of agreeably venal curates; Irene Handl and Eric Sykes as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, heads of a scruffy, thieving clan; and Kenneth Griffith as the fire-and-brimstone preacher.

If only they cut that silly ending! There's other issues, too, like a penchant for slow camera zooms without reason, and the way the movie piles on Smallwood at the expense of comedy, but the out-of-left-field ending stings worst, an attempt at giving the film a falsely up note. Alas, when you really think about it, it only leaves Smallwood worse off than ever.

But you do care about the guy, a sign someone was doing something right. Obviously that includes Peter Sellers. With more laughs and a tighter ending, "Heavens Above!" would have ranked among his greatest films. As it is, it's pretty good all the same, food for thought in our secular times.

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