'A Matter of Life and Death' - Movie Review

I ordered this movie from TPL because I'd been thinking about the excellent "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," and thus about Pressburger and Powell. "A Matter of Life and Death" is one of their other movies, and seemed to be well regarded.

The movie starts with a conversation between Lancaster bomber Squadron leader Peter Carter (David Niven) and American radio operator June (Kim Hunter) working on the British shore. He's returning to the UK on a plane that's on fire and can't land: he's saved the other crew, but is about to die himself. After a five minute conversation, they declare that they could love each other, and he leaps from the plane without a parachute ("I'd rather fly than fry").

Carter awakes on the sea shore in what he assumes is the afterlife - only to find he's landed alive in the UK, right next door to June. They celebrate and fall in love. Unfortunately, the afterlife comes calling for him: he was supposed to collected when he died, but the British pea-soup fog confused the "collector" (Marius Goring putting on a mediocre French accent). He's asked to proceed to the afterlife, but he demands an appeal.

A local doctor friend of June's (Roger Livesey) is pulled in to address Carter's hallucinations, and much is made of the trial - although the movie makes sure to never tell us if what Carter is experiencing is real. Mind you, they also never explain how he survived a fall out of a doomed bomber.

25 minutes of the movie is given to "the trial," in which several people spout philosophy and platitudes about Love, Americans, the British, and British house design (trust me, it's in there). I found the set-up ludicrous and the trial and its grandstanding tedious. But one of the reasons I watched the film is that it's on several very important best-of lists, so apparently I'm in a minority with my negative opinion.