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Heavens Above!

Heavens Above! (1963)

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Release Date: Jan 1, 1963 Wide

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71

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 452

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Movie Info

Considered a bit too sacrilegious for general consumption in 1963, the Boulting brothers' Heavens Above was simply ahead of its time, and has since accrued a loyal and vocal following. Peter Sellers plays an idealistic British reverend with a bad habit of telling the truth at all times. He also follows his conscience whenever possible, resulting in several cleric decisions that shock his wealthy, landed-gentry parishioners. By inviting such "undesirables" as gypsies and West Africans to worship

Unrated,

Classics, Comedy

,

John Boulting, Frank Harvey

Mar 25, 2003

Janus Films

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All Critics (6) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (1) | Rotten (0) | DVD (8)

There are no critic reviews yet for Heavens Above!. Keep checking Rotten Tomatoes for updates!

Audience Reviews for Heavens Above!

Heavens Above! is a fine example of early Peter Sellers post Goons. It's very funny and its cynicism has quite a contemporary quality about it and you can see why it is said that it is ahead of its time. Unfortunately it gets rather silly towards the end and the unfortunate spells of racism very much dates the rest of the film.
August 17, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

classic charming british satirical comedy with peter sellers as a young vicar trying to bring christian charity to an uptight parish. it makes me smile :)
September 8, 2008
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Unjustly obscure, "Heavens Above!" is among Peter Sellers' essential movies. But beware, fans of droll British satire: You'll have to forgive an absurd ending which taints the entire film.

Sellers plays Rev. John Smallwood, a guileless prison chaplain who, by mistake, is summoned to the small community of Orbiston Parva. The town's revenue depends on a factory that produces Tranquilax, a dubious remedy that is a sedative, stimulant and laxative all at once. A perverse comparison is drawn between this "three in one" panacea and the Holy Trinity.

It's unclear whether Smallwood is a righteous thinker or just a simpleton who lucked into a virtuous path (shades of "Being There"'s Chance Gardener). But his gentle admonitions shock a hypocritical population accustomed to lazy, unearned feelings of godliness. Most residents are furious and call for his dismissal, but he does reach the matriarch of the town's wealthy, dominant family. Fearing damnation, she begins an extravagant charity program that frustrates shopkeepers and quickly unbalances the local economy. Meanwhile, passing comments from Smallwood's sermons hurt Tranquilax's credibility and cut into its profits. Can Orbiston Parva survive this disastrous dose of spirituality?

"Heavens Above!" takes shots at quite a few targets, from religion to capitalism to class divisions. It's a notably bleak portrait of humanity -- even the poor people are corrupt and ungrateful. There are some nice supporting performances, particularly Brock Peters' turn as a good-hearted garbageman, but Sellers carries the film with a brilliantly understated characterization. Beyond one pratfall into an open grave, he scarcely does anything "funny" in the film and yet "Heavens Above!" is indeed a comedy. It's just too bad that a farcical conclusion wholly violates the film's established, low-key tone.
January 7, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Heavens Above (DE)
  • Heavens Above! (UK)
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