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Heavens Above!

Overview

John Boulting and Roy Boulting's Heavens Above marked the end of the producer/director brother team's string of satirical successes. It was funny (often excruciatingly so), and Peter Sellers is brilliant in it, and the movie had an ending so outrageous as to seem almost sacrilegious, which is an ideal way to go for a satire of organized religion. But the movie also had probably been made about two or three years later than it ought to have been, to achieve its greatest impact. It came along just at a point where ...
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Overview

John Boulting and Roy Boulting's Heavens Above marked the end of the producer/director brother team's string of satirical successes. It was funny (often excruciatingly so), and Peter Sellers is brilliant in it, and the movie had an ending so outrageous as to seem almost sacrilegious, which is an ideal way to go for a satire of organized religion. But the movie also had probably been made about two or three years later than it ought to have been, to achieve its greatest impact. It came along just at a point where not only had the notion of "God is Dead" taken root in the popular culture (in England and elsewhere), but where staid, mainstream religious sensibilities would soon be competing with such underground, populist sentiments as "Clapton Is God" scrawled on the walls of buildings in London -- and, talking of the latter, also at a point when London had begun to "swing," at least for Brits and Londoners, if not for the rest of the world. Thus, the movie was a satiric salvo fired at a target that would no longer as big or inviting as it would have seemed at the outset of the decade. The Anchor Bay DVD is the best looking presentation of Heavens Above that this reviewer has ever seen on the small-screen. Letterboxed with an aspect ratio of 1.66-to-1, with enhancement for 16-by-9 screens, it presents a flawless image, cleaner and sharper than any broadcast; additionally, the disc features the uncut 118 minute version of the movie, as opposed to the 105 minute edition that was available originally in the United States -- and the extra 12 minutes are worth it. The audio quality is just as good as the image, capturing Richard Rodney Bennett's satirical score in all of its nuances -- by the time one is finished with this disc, the tune of "Simple Gifts," which is the basis for a major part of the score, will likely be running through your head in many variations. The 26 chapters are very carefully and generously placed, and one only wishes that there were some serious annotation about the origins of this movie, and about the Boultings. There is no trailer, but there is a Sellers bio -- the same as the one in the other discs in this series -- accessible through a menu that opens automatically, on a cleverly devised main page.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs; Peter Sellers bio
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/21/2003
  • UPC: 013131193190
  • Original Release: 1963
  • Rating:

  • Source: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Vistavision (1.66:1)
  • Presentation: Black & White / Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:58:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Sellers The Rev. John Smallwood
Bernard Miles Simpson
Cecil Parker Archdeacon Aspinall
Eric Sykes Harry Smith
Irene Handl Rene Smith
Miriam Karlin Winnie Smith
Isabel Jeans Lady Despard
Brock Peters Matthew
Ian Carmichael The Other Smallwood
Joan Miller Mrs. Smith-Gould
Roy Kinnear Fred Smith
Kenneth Griffith Rev. Owen Smith
Miles Malleson Rockerby
William Hartnell Maj. Fowler
Joan Hickson Garrulous Housewife
Harry Locke Shop Steward
Nicholas Phipps Director General
Thorley Walters Tranquilax Executive
George Woodbridge Bishop
Basil Dignam Prisoner Governor
Colin Gordon Prime Minister
Joan Heal Disgruntled Housewife
Conrad Phillips P.R.O.
Cardew Robinson Tramp
Billy Milton Fellowes
Howard Pays Astronaut
John Comer Butcher
Mark Eden Sir Geoffrey Despard
John Harvey
Drewe Henley Doris' Boy Friend
Geoffrey Hibbert Council Official
Marjorie Lawrence
Henry Longhurst Deaf Gentleman
Malcolm Muggeridge Cleric
Olive Sloane Quarreling Housewife
Elsie Wagstaffe Lady on Parish Church Council
Ian Wilson Salvation Army Major
Tim Brinton TV Commentator
Eric Barker Bank Manager
Marianne Stone Miss Palmer
Technical Credits
John Boulting Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Roy Boulting Director, Producer
Richard Rodney Bennett Score Composer
Teddy Darvas Editor
David Ffolkes Costumes/Costume Designer
Gerry Fletcher Makeup
Stuart Freeborn Makeup
Mutz Greenbaum Cinematographer
Frank Harvey Jr. Screenwriter
John Hollingsworth Musical Direction/Supervision
Albert Witherick Art Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Program Start/Welcome (Main Title) [3:41]
2. The Reverend John Smallwood [5:45]
3. First Day on the Job [5:00]
4. God-Fearing Town [3:30]
5. The Scruffy Smith Family [4:22]
6. The New Vicar's Sermon [6:05]
7. Relocation [4:58]
8. "What in Heaven's Name Is Going on Here?" [4:10]
9. A Visit From Lady Despard [6:35]
10. Charity Begins at Home [3:53]
11. True Believer [3:45]
12. The Christian Joy of Giving [5:08]
13. Fiscal Repercussions [2:46]
14. The Other Smallwood [6:11]
15. A Case of Mistaken Identity [4:13]
16. Running a Scam [2:59]
17. No Substitutes [6:13]
18. Faith Versus Commerce [6:53]
19. "In Business, There Are No Gentlemen" [4:07]
20. Deserting the Lord [3:56]
21. A Sign From Above [3:38]
22. Voice of the Mob [5:14]
23. Bishop of Outer Space [4:10]
24. Second Thoughts [3:43]
25. Heavens Above [5:05]
26. End Credits [1:49]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Chapter Selections
   Peter Sellers Bio
   Play
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