A measure of the merit of Heavens Above! is that its theme could have been just as acceptably used as a straight drama. But the Boulting Brothers effectively Employ their favorite weapon, the rapier of ridicule. The screenplay is full of choice jokes, but the humor is often uneven.
Story concerns the appointment, by a clerical error, of the Reverend John Smallwood (Peter Sellers) to the parish of Orbiston Parva, a prosperous neighborhood ruled by the Despard Family, makers of Tranquilax, the three-in-one restorative (Sedative! Stimulant! Laxative!). He’s a quiet, down-to-earth chap who happens to believe in the scriptures and lives by them.
From the moment he gives his first sermon all hell breaks out, so to speak. He shocks the district by making a Negro trashman his warden and takes a bunch of disreputable evicted gypsies into the vicarage. Soon he makes his first convert, Lady Despard.
Within this framework there are some very amusing verbal and visual jokes, and both are largely aided by some deft acting. Sellers gives a guileful portrayal of genuine simplicity. Bernard Miles, as an acquisitive butler; Eric Sykes, Irene Handl, Miriam Karlin and Roy Kinnear (leader of the gypsies); and Isabel Jeans, a regal Lady Despard, all contribute heftily.