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]
Reviews of A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
aka Stairway to Heaven
The full film at archive.org
General reviews & articles :-
- Fascinating trivia (and any goofs) connected with the film
- All location & studio details known
- Contemporary Previews and Reviews
- Mysticism and Politics - Review from Kultura i Zhien (Culture and Life) No. 15 (1947)
- The view from Moscow - A Soviet perspective
Comments on the above review from "Our Man in Moscow"
- The Royal Film Performance
- A Matter of Fried Onions
A medical analysis of Peter D. Carter
by Diane Broadbent Friedman
- Michael Powell: Resurrecting a Cosmic Fantasy of Love and Death
- Review by Philip French (The Observer)
- Henry Coombs Reviews
- BBC Interview with Kim Hunter about AMOLAD
- A Norwegian review
Translation of the Norwegian Review
- An impossible romance?
- Review by Anthony Antoniou (6Degrees)
- Classics of the Foreign Film
- TV Guide review
- The Onion Review
- Chicago Reader Review by Dave Kehr
- Restoration - "A Matter of Life and Death"
- Spanish review
- The AMOLAD Bus Station
- The AMOLAD Bus Station #2
- Reworking AMOLAD as a ballet
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella
- The story in pictures
- AMOLAD on stage
- Alan Bennett on AMOLAD
- Statues on a Stairway
By Eric Aumonier
- Comments about AMOLAD sent to the IMDb
- Review by James W. Travers
- Five Senators Report on the War
"a certain report on England by five members of the United States Senate"
- Combat Tour for Senators
- Link to -> On the beach - on YouTube
- Link to -> On the stairway - on YouTube
- Link to -> Film-makers on film: Bertrand Tavernier
Bertrand Tavernier talks to John Whitley about Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
- Link to -> BFI ScreenOnline
- Link to -> Review by Damian Cannon
- Link to -> Review by Roger Ebert
- Link to -> BBC Review
- Link to -> Review @ Edinburgh University Film Society
- Link to -> Norwegian Review
- Link to -> European Coordination of Film Festivals
Jack Cardiff picks AMOLAD
- Link to -> Admiration of the film by Arun K. Barua
- Link to -> Notes from Channel 4
- Link to -> Betty's Wartime Diary
- Link to -> SciFilm Musings
- Link to -> EOFF TV Review
- Link to -> Blimp & AMOLAD
A Review by Sarah Knight, University of Warwick
- Link to -> Must-have movies: A Matter of Life and Death
A Review by Philip Horne
- Link to -> The prophet
JG Ballard used to skip class to watch Michael Powell's extravagant, unsettling postwar movies
- Link to -> Script of AMOLAD (in French)
Archive copy of script if web page above isn't available
- Link to -> The 1946 novelisation
- Link to -> "Trailer" at Virgin.net
Actually just the first couple of minutes after the opening titles
the tour of the galaxy and the start of Peter & June talking
- Link to -> Carlito Corway's AMOLAD pages
- Link to -> Senses of Cinema article by John Orr
The Trauma Film and British Romantic Cinema 1940-1960
Looking at trauma in AMOLAD, Gaslight (1940) and other films of the period
- Link to -> DVD Outsider review by Camus of the Granada boxed set
- Link to -> A Matter of Powell and Pressburger Ronald Bergan discusses the P&P partnership
- Link to -> Sparks In Electrical Jelly
Ten Reasons Why A Matter of Life and Death is the Greatest British Movie Ever Made
Plus a review of the Jack Cardiff documentary
Was there really that much bad feeling between the British people and the American troops that it needed this film to help us like each other again? These articles give a few hints.
There was also some bad feeling at higher levels, especially from some Americans who wanted to make sure that the British didn't try to continue with their Empire after the war. This is discussed in some depth in Ian Christie's commentary on the Sony DVD.
There were various versions of the story that have been broadcast
- twice on Lux Theatre (US Radio)
- Screen Director's Playhouse (US Radio)
- The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood
- and even as a Live TV show
- Alex Gleason has also found a mention in an old copy of Radio Times that the BBC did an adaption of the film as a radio play. Both Marius Goring and Abraham Sofaer reprise their film roles, but the stars are a pleasant surprise - David Farrar as Peter and Kathleen Byron as June.
Music is by Allan Gray conducted by Walter Goehr, so it looks like they lifted the soundtrack score.
And the play is listed as a BBC recording - so who knows - it may survive.
There was also a musical based on the film performed at the King's Head Theatre, Islington in 1994
There has also been a full stage production by the Kneehigh Company at the Olivier Theatre in May/June 2007
Link to -> E-Trailer for the National Theatre's production
Behind the scenes
Some "behind the scenes" film clips have been found. These were taken when a group of Canadian soldiers & WACs visited the set. They are available to view, sadly without sound, at the National Film Board of Canada's web site
- Link to -> Shot 4679
A group of Canadian soldiers visit Denham Studios to see how big-time movies are made. Shots of soldiers watching as performers act dressed in the 1700 era garb (the film being shot is A Matter of Life and Death).
- Link to -> Shot 4680
Film director Michael Powell and soldiers chatting with actor David Niven, who shows Canadian Women's Army Corps girls how to embrace and kiss. Niven uses a CWAC to carry out his illustration.
- Link to -> Shot 4681
(Canadian) Actor Raymond Massey in 1700 era garb.
- Link to -> Shot 4682
David Niven is wearing a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot's uniform on the set.
[That's what the NFB site says, I don't see anything Canadian about it. It's an RAF uniform.]
- Link to -> Shot 4683
Film director Michael Powell is seen explaining requirements to Raymond Massey.
- Link to -> Shot 4684
Various shots from numerous angles of the set with soldiers and Canadian Women's Army Corps girl watching, David Niven kisses another CWAC. Michael Powell and Raymond Massey step down from the stage to greet visitors.
- Link to -> Shot 4685
Soldiers visiting sound stage and leaving Denham Studios.
Finally, in this section, a mention of a few spoofs. Done with love and affection:
- The Seven Faces of Jim (1961)
A taxi driver is lost in the fog and has to be guided back to base
- Pulp "Help the Aged" video (1997)
Jarvis Cocker on a Stairlift to Heaven
- Big Train (1998)
A wickedly funny spoof made by Simon Pegg, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap and Amelia Bullmore in their Big Train sketch show. It's done with a lot of knowledge about and obvious love of the film.
See it on YouTube
Reviews from the 1995 US release
In 1995, the film was re-released as Stairway to Heaven (A Matter of Life and Death).
Released by Columbia Pictures in association with Martin Scorsese.
- 1995 Press Release
- Daily News Dave Kehr: "It's Like Heaven on Earth"
- NY Post Thelma Adams: "One to die for"
- NY Times Janet Maslin: "Between Heaven and Earth"
- LA Times Kenneth Turan: "Powell's 'Stairway' Still Leads Somewhere"
- LA Weekly F.X. Feeney: "Film Pick of the Week"
- Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert: "Love Just May Conquer All in 1946's 'Stairway'"
See also Ebert reviews on Sun-Times site
- Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington: "Screen imagery wins points for 'Stairway to Heaven'"
- San Francisco Examiner Scott Rosenberg: "'A Matter of Life and Death' still flies"
- San Francisco Chronicle Edward Guthmann: "Festival's New Look at 1946 Powell Film"
[Front page, Entertainment section + page 6]
- San Francisco Chronicle Edward Guthmann: "Meaning of 'Life and Death'"
- Link to -> Filmycks review
Reviews about the Video :-
Reviews about the Sony DVD (Region 1: AMOLAD + Age of Consent) :-
- Link to -> NY Times
- Link to -> DVD Talk
- Link to -> About.com
- Link to -> Explore Howard (lovely last paragraph)
- Link to -> DVD Savant review
- Link to -> Celebrating Director Michael Powell by Glenn Erickson
- Link to -> Bil Antoniou's review
Reviews about the Carlton DVD (Region 2) :-
- DVD - Carlton: The Silver Collection
- DVD Review by Max Pemberton
- Link to -> ChiaroScuro Review & DVD analysis
Comparisons between different versions :-
- Link to -> Comparison of Carlton & EPIX (German) & Sony DVDs by DVD Beaver
Reviews about the new print :-
- New Print of AMOLAD - Interview with Thelma
- New Print: Chips off the old Pressburger - Andrew & Kevin Macdonald
- New Print: BFI Information
- New print: A matter of joy and bliss - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
- BBC Review
- Review by Alexander Walker (Evening Standard)
- Review from BBC Bristol
- Review by Ian Johnston
- Review by Philip French, The Observer
Reviews about the Books :-
- AMOLAD Village found!
The village seen through Dr Reeves' camera obscura.
- Link to -> The Magic Mirror of Life
An Appreciation of the Camera Obscura
- Steve's trip to Saunton Sands. The beach where Peter washed ashore and then met June.
- Carlito Corway's visit to Saunton Sands
Pictures from the PaPAS Gallery
Other P&P reviews