Favorite Films: A Matter of Life and Death

David Niven stars as a British airman during World War 2 whose plane is hit in dense fog. As the plane goes down he is talking to an American girl on the radio, who is trying to talk him home to safety.

DVD cover for 'A Matter of Life and Death'

DVD cover

Inexplicably he survives the crash, and then proceeds to fall in love with the girl who was talking to him. Unfortunately, an angel then turns up, explaining that there has been a mix-up and he should be dead. He refuses to follow the angel up to Heaven. A trial ensues where he has to establish a case for being allowed to stay on Earth.

This charming little film has some technical tricks which are used to good effect; there is an unending staircase that carries souls up to Heaven, and the court in Heaven has thousands of spectators of all races and creeds. There is a table tennis game which gets frozen with participants becoming statues. Also, there is a nice irony in the fact that the scene in Heaven are in black and white while the scenes on earth are in colour.

David Niven is his usual debonair self, with Kim Hunter and Roger Livesey providing excellent support as the girlfriend and the doctor who is called upon to cure Niven of an overactive imagination. A very young Richard Attenborough also appears in a brief scene.

Although this film is more than 60 years old (it was released in 1946) it has not aged and is a joy to watch.  Definitely recommended.

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