Sunday 4 March 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: Heavens Above!

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money.
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and the the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide. 

And last week I looked at the Carry On links with the wonderful film I'm All Right Jack and the Diana Dors' prison drama, Yield to the Night

Today I'm going to blog about the 1963 comedy film, Heavens Above!


What's it about?

A naive but caring prison chaplain, Smallwood, is accidentally assigned as vicar to the small and prosperous country town of Orbiston Parva, in place of an upper-class cleric (Carmichael) with the same name. His belief in charity and forgiveness sets him at odds with the locals, whose assertions that they are good, Christian people are belied in Smallwood's eyes by their behaviour and ideas. He creates social ructions by appointing a black dustman as his churchwarden, taking in a gypsy family, and persuading local landowner Lady Despard to provide free food for the church to distribute free to the people of the town. However, all his good works lead to trouble.
Who's in it?

Heavens Above! is produced by the Boulting Brothers, so as with several other films of the period, their stars include Peter Sellers and Ian Carmichael (who also starred in the brilliant I'm All Right Jack). Also in the cast is Bernard Miles, Eric Sykes, Miriam Karlin, Isabel Jeans and the wonderful character actor, Roy Kinnear. 


Carry On Faces?

Lots of them! Carry On original actor William Hartnell plays the town councillor, Major Fowler. Regular Boulting Brothers' favourite Irene Handl, who also had cameos in Carry On Nurse and Constable, plays Rene Smith. Carry On Jack guest star, the great Cecil Parker, stars here as Archdeacon Aspinall while Eric Barker, seen in authority roles in Carry On Sergeant, Constable, Spying and Emmannuelle, plays a bank manager in this film.

There are also a whole host of regular Carry On actors in small parts throughout the film. Joan Hickson plays a housewife, Harry Locke a shop steward and Carry On Up The Khyber actor Cardew Robinson appears as a tramp. Also, look out for Marianne Stone in the role of Miss Palmer, Ian Wilson as a Salvation Army Major and George Woodbridge as a Bishop.


Did you know?

The film features small uncredited roles for future well known actors John Junkin and Rodney Bewes.

The film was the 12th most popular film in the UK in 1963.

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