The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

  Steve's Logo

Submitted by Nick Garrett

Stairway to Heaven
104 mins


Like other Powell and Pressburger pictures, the striving to appear intellectual is much too apparent. Less desire to exhibit alleged learning, and more humanity would have resulted in a more popular offering.

For the first ten minutes, apart from some pretentious poppycock, the picture looks like living up to its boosting. This is real cinema, then action gives way to talk, some of it flat and dreary. Stroy is set in this world (graced with technicolor) and the Other World (relegated to dye monochrome) as it exists in the mind of an airman whose imagination has been affected by concussion.

Returning from a bomber expedition, Squadron Leader David Niven is shot up. Last of the crew, minus a parachute, and believing the end is inevitable, before bailing out talks poetry and love over the radio to Kim Hunter, American WAC on nearby air station. Miraculously Niven falls into the sea, is washed ashore apparently unhurt, and by strange coincidence meets Kim. They fall desperately in love. Meanwhile in the other world there's much bother. Owing to deliquency of heavenly conductor Marius Goring, Niven has failed to check in and Goring is despatched to this world to persuade Niven to take his rightful place and balance the heavenly books.

Obviously experimental in many respects, the designs for the other world are a matter of taste, but with all their ingenuity Powell, Pressburger and Alfred Junge could only invent a heaven remeniscent of the Hollywood Bowl and and an exculsive celestial nighclub where hostesses dish out wings to dead pilots.

Back to index