6.8/10
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27 user 11 critic

Heavens Above! (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 23 May 1963 (UK)
A minister is accidentally appointed to a snobbish parish.

Writers:

Frank Harvey (original story), John Boulting (original story) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Sellers ... The Reverend John Smallwood
Cecil Parker ... Archdeacon Aspinall
Isabel Jeans ... Lady Despard
Ian Carmichael ... The Other Smallwood
Bernard Miles ... Simpson
Brock Peters ... Matthew
Eric Sykes ... Harry Smith
Irene Handl ... Rene Smith
Miriam Karlin ... Winnie Smith
Joan Miller Joan Miller ... Mrs. Smith-Gould
Miles Malleson ... Rockeby
Eric Barker Eric Barker ... Bank Manager
William Hartnell ... Major Fowler
Roy Kinnear ... Fred Smith
Joan Hickson ... Housewife
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Storyline

In the upper crust town of Orbiston Parva which is ostensibly ruled by the wealthy Despard family who owns and operates the town's major employer, the local Tranquilax factory (the product a so-called restorative), the Church of England's Archdeacon Aspinall, who oversees among other churches Holy Trinity, recommends to widowed Lady Lucy Despard, the town's "matriarch", that they hire Reverend John Smallwood, whose family the Archdeacon has known most his life, to fill the currently vacant vicar position for Holy Trinity, Smallwood the type of man who would fit well into the town's upper crust sensibility. Through a clerical error, who the church hires instead is Reverend John Edward Smallwood, a totally different man in almost every respect beyond the job title of reverend, including being somewhat naive in mind. Through what is seen as his unconventional actions both from a church and Orbiston Parva community standpoint, such as hiring Matthew Robinson, a dustman and, gasp, black ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Or How a Humble Man of the Cloth Was Given the Old Double Cross

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Brock Peters who plays Matthew will be familiar to American audiences from his role as Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). See more »

Goofs

At the "British Space Centre" on the fictitious island of Ultima Thule, the corridor sign for the Computer Wing displays the legend "Computor Wing". It can be seen again seven minutes later. See more »

Quotes

Simpson: I remember Sir George used to say "Whenever you hears the Bible quoted, look out cos it's most likely the devil himself!"
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Alternate Versions

Original British version runs 118 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Colonel Bogey
(uncredited)
Music by Kenneth Alford
See more »

User Reviews

 
476th Review: Boulting Bros, Peter Sellers, Early 60s Class Comedy - Heaven indeed!
9 January 2012 | by inteleartsSee all my reviews

Heavens Above! has so much going for it - a wonderful and very gentle performance by Sellers, a who's who of British comedy from the late 1950s, and the Boulting Brothers at the helm. This is a film that stands the test of time and remains both fun and interesting and a fascinating take on Anglicanism. In Britain, children of a certain class went to privileged school with the eldest son being shipped off to serve as an officer, or join the Foreign Office for the larger good of the Empire, and the second son would go to the City or the Church.

Anglican vicars aren't meant to be like Peter Seller's John Smallwood - who really does hold to the Gospel rather than doctrine, and is appointed vicar, by mistake, of a decidedly complacent and snooty town. What follows gently pokes fun at the double standards.

All in all, this remains one of Seller's gentlest, truest, and straightest characterisations. Like Alec Guinness he really does become the character he's playing - from the hair to the accent to the smallest gestures, but more than that, here, is the heart. He captures something ethereal that we would all recognise as sincerity and good intentions.

When he introduces true gospel values everything, of course, starts to fall apart. Historically, this is interesting in that Billy Graham has come to Britain and there is something of that spirit about this; but it is no way heavy handed or blunt.

Heavens Above! resorts to a weak ending - wish he'd been sent to the East End of London or Liverpool - but it remains a wonderful film well worth the time to catch when it comes around.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Hindi | French | Italian

Release Date:

23 May 1963 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Himmlische Freuden See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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