Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Heaven's Above!

1963 - Dir: John & Roy Boulting
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th April, 2007
After spending some time in the U.S., Peter Sellers returned to Britain for what he termed a 'regional comedy' - in other words a richly British vehicle that doesn't concern itself with broadening the palette for international consumption. "Heavens Above" remains after 44 years a biting satire of religion, small town society, and the various prejudices that keep the ‘wrong kind’ of people in their 'proper' places. What "I'm All Right Jack" did for unions and management, "Heavens Above" does for clerics and lay people.
Sellers as the naive Rev. Smallwood turns in one of his most appealing performances. Instead of playing the part as the classic charicature of a clergyman, Sellers really gets inside the character of Smallwood. In fact he made this film in between working on films directed by the great Stanley Kubrick (“Lolita” and “Dr Strangelove”) - perhaps Kubrick made some suggestions? As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, it’s an ABC of British character actors - from the obvious (Eric Sykes, Irene Handl) to the slightly obscure (John Louis Mansi - Herr Flick’s sidekick in “Allo Allo”) and the downright odd (Malcolm Muggeridge and Ludovic Kennedy). It’s all beautifully photographed by Max Green (his final film) and the music is by the versatile Richard Rodney Bennett.

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