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aka Stairway to Heaven

Returning home from a bombing run, World War II pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) is shot down, making last radio contact with an American air controller, June (Kim Hunter) before bailing out and plunging into the sea. With his soul in limbo, a heavenly court meets to decide his fate. Moving seamlessly between a Technicolor earth and a monochrome heaven, the unique vision of Powell and Pressburger (co-creators of Black Narcissus, 1947, and The Red Shoes, 1948) delivers an intensely moving, epic and unforgettable film.


What an inspired pairing! And to think the roles of Charlie Allnutt and Rose Sayer were nearly played by David Niven and Bette Davis. Humphrey Bogart won an Oscar as the unkempt steamboat skipper who clashes with prim spinster Katharine Hepburn in this fine First World War adventure. Initially, all was not well between the two leads. But, from the moment Hepburn began basing her character on Eleanor Roosevelt, the elements fused into a unique screen chemistry, and a gentle humour (that was noticeably absent from the shooting script) began to seep into the action. With director John Huston distracted by extracurricular safaris, the location work was clearly a strain - Bogie wouldn't have had to act too much to look distressed as he pulled the Queen through the leech-infested water. Yet the discord and discomfort resulted in a classic and a long overdue Academy Award for Bogart.

Reviewed By David Parkinson in Radio Times Film Guide

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