IMDb > Heaven Can Wait (1943)
Heaven Can Wait
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Heaven Can Wait (1943) More at IMDbPro »

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Heaven Can Wait -- Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche), an aged former playboy, has died and gone to hell. But the ruler of the realm of darkness, His Excellency (Laird Cregar), isn't convinced Van Cleve's come to the right place.


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Release Date:
11 August 1943 (USA) See more »
He believed in Love . . . Honor . . . and Obey - That Impulse!
An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more »
User Reviews:
Birthdays See more (58 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Gene Tierney ... Martha Strabel Van Cleve

Don Ameche ... Henry Van Cleve

Charles Coburn ... Hugo Van Cleve

Marjorie Main ... Mrs. Strabel
Laird Cregar ... His Excellency

Spring Byington ... Bertha Van Cleve

Allyn Joslyn ... Albert Van Cleve

Eugene Pallette ... E.F. Strabel

Signe Hasso ... Mademoiselle

Louis Calhern ... Randolph Van Cleve
Helene Reynolds ... Peggy Nash
Aubrey Mather ... James
Tod Andrews ... Jack Van Cleve (as Michael Ames)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Florence Bates ... Mrs. Edna Craig (uncredited)
Scotty Beckett ... Henry Van Cleve - Age 9 (uncredited)
Clara Blandick ... Grandmother Van Cleve (uncredited)
Leonard Carey ... Flogdell - Van Cleve's First Butler (uncredited)

Dane Clark ... Elevator Operator (uncredited)
James Conaty ... Man in Park with Top Hat (uncredited)
Jack Deery ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Claire Du Brey ... Miss Ralston - Jack's Secretary (uncredited)
Jay Eaton ... Book Store Clerk (uncredited)
James Flavin ... Policeman (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Party Guest (uncredited)

Gary Gray ... Boy in Park (uncredited)
Alfred Hall ... Albert's Father (uncredited)
Grayce Hampton ... Albert's Mother (uncredited)

Dickie Jones ... Albert Van Cleve - Age 15 (uncredited)
Marlene Mains ... Mary - Age 9 (uncredited)
Trudy Marshall ... Jane Van Cleve - Jack's Wife (uncredited)

Edwin Maxwell ... Doctor (uncredited)
Michael McLean ... Henry Van Cleve - as Baby (uncredited)
Doris Merrick ... Nellie Brown - Registered Nurse (uncredited)
Harold Miller ... Party Guest (uncredited)

Dickie Moore ... Henry Van Cleve - Age 15 (uncredited)
Bert Moorhouse ... Party Guest (uncredited)

Clarence Muse ... Jasper - Strabel's Butler (uncredited)
Monty O'Grady ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Anne O'Neal ... Day Nurse (uncredited)
Nino Pipitone Jr. ... Jack Van Cleve - as Child (uncredited)
Maureen Roden-Ryan ... Bediliah - Nurse in Park (uncredited)
Anita Sharp-Bolster ... Mrs. Cooper-Cooper (uncredited)
Gerald Oliver Smith ... Smith - Van Cleve's Second Butler (uncredited)

Directed by
Ernst Lubitsch 
Writing credits
Samson Raphaelson (screenplay)

Leslie Bush-Fekete (play "Birthday") (as Lazlo Bus-Fekete)

Produced by
Ernst Lubitsch .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Alfred Newman 
Cyril J. Mockridge (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Edward Cronjager (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Dorothy Spencer 
Art Direction by
James Basevi 
Leland Fuller 
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little 
Costume Design by
René Hubert  (as Rene Hubert)
Makeup Department
Guy Pearce .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Henry Weinberger .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Walter M. Scott .... associate set decorator
Sound Department
Eugene Grossman .... sound
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
Visual Effects by
Fred Sersen .... special photographic effects
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Sam Benson .... wardrobe supervisor (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Lyman Hallowell .... apprentice editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Hugo Friedhofer .... music supervisor (uncredited)
Alfred Newman .... musical director (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Natalie Kalmus .... Technicolor director
Georges Jomier .... diction instructor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
112 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:Atp | Finland:S | France:U | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (re-rating) (2005) | USA:Unrated | USA:Not Rated (DVD rating) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | USA:Approved (certificate #9073) | West Germany:12 (nf)

Did You Know?

Gene Tierney recalled that during production, "Lubitsch was a tyrant on the set, the most demanding of directors. After one scene, which took from noon until five to get, I was almost in tears from listening to Lubitsch shout at me. The next day I sought him out, looked him in the eye, and said, 'Mr. Lubitsch, I'm willing to do my best but I just can't go on working on this picture if you're going to keep shouting at me.' 'I'm paid to shout at you', he bellowed. 'Yes', I said, 'and I'm paid to take it - but not enough.' After a tense pause, Lubitsch broke out laughing. From then on we got along famously." (From Gene Tierney's autobiography 'Self-Portrait'.)See more »
Continuity: In the breakfast scene just before Martha (Tierney) comes home to her parents Mr. Strable is served a large second helping of pancakes. Moments later when the camera gives him a medium shot, the stack is gone and the butler refills his plate.See more »
Henry Van Cleve:As a man grows older, his medicine cabinet grows bigger.See more »
Movie Connections:
Happy Birthday to YouSee more »


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27 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
Birthdays, 21 May 2005
Author: jotix100 from New York

Ernst Lubitsch was a man destined to take the play in which this film is based to the screen. The results are amazing. This 1943 movie continues to charm audiences after all these years. Credit must go to the great Lubitsch who shows his light touch on this delightful comedy.

Since the film is based on the play "Birthday", by Leslie Bush-Fedeke, the main idea behind the action is to present us Henry Van Cleve as he ages. The film opens as Henry is descending a long flight of stairs. He is an old man now. Henry meets an elegant man at the desk who will decide whether he will go down to hell, or to heaven. The story then goes back in flashbacks to show us what this Henry was really like while he lived.

Henry Van Cleve is part of a wealthy family from New York. When the film opens Henry is celebrating his 10th birthday. This involves being introduced to a French governess who will transform the boy for life. Then we see Henry as he is going to celebrate his 25th birthday. This is a most important date for him because he meets and falls in love with the lovely Martha Strabel, a beauty from Kansas, that is his idiotic cousin's fiancée. Needless to say, the handsome Henry falls in love with her and they elope.

Life has a way to get in the way of Henry as we see how he is handed tragedy when he loses his lovely Martha when she becomes sick. Ultimately, Henry himself, a mere mortal, dies after a long life that has been spent alone, living dedicated to his own son.

"Heaven can Wait" is a lovely film. Much credit has to go to its stars, Don Ameche and Gene Tierney, who make an excellent couple. They were at the top of their careers and guided by Mr. Lubitsch, their romance, while sweet, it's not sugary. Ms. Tierney's beauty adorns this film and Mr. Ameche is seen at his suavest self.

The supporting cast was a director's dream come true: Charles Coburn, Marjorie Main, Eugene Palette, Spring Byington, Louis Calhern, Laird Cregar, among others, give the film the elegance that Mr. Lubitsch used so well to enhance the movie.

A classic that will live forever!

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