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Heaven Can Wait (1978)

A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die, returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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The Escort
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Corinne
Jeannie Linero ...
Lavinia
Harry D.K. Wong ...
Gardener
George J. Manos ...
Security Guard
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Storyline

Joe Pendleton is a football quarterback preparing to lead his team to the Superbowl when he is almost killed in an accident. An overanxious angel plucks him to heaven only to discover that he was not ready to die, and that his body has been cremated. Another body must be found without his death being discovered, and that of a recently murdered millionaire is chosen. His wife and accountant, the murderers, are confused by this development, as he buys the Los Angeles Rams in order to once again quarterback them into the Superbowl. At the same time, he falls in love with an English environmental activist who disapproves of his policies and actions. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El cielo puede esperar  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,192,799, 2 July 1978, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$81,640,278
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The type of musical instrument Warren Beatty plays is a soprano saxophone and the composition he is often heard practicing is an old Italian ballad called "Ciribiribin". See more »

Goofs

During the football scrimmage segment none of the players are wearing knee, thigh or hip pads. In an actual live contact scrimmage most players would not take a chance on an injury by playing without all of their pads.

Teams sometimes carry out "walk-through" scrimmage practice without pads, to choreograph plays, but that's clearly not occurring in this scene. See more »

Quotes

Joe Pendleton: I'm not supposed to be here.
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Connections

Referenced in Hostage (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Sonata No 3
By George Frideric Handel (as G.F. Handel)
Performed by Paul Brodie and Antonin Kubalek
Courtesy of Golden Crest Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Thoroughly charming afterlife comedy
6 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

After appearing the rare Mike Nichols misstep THE FORTUNE (1975), it took Beatty three long years to return to the screen with the genteel comedy/fantasy HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978). In addition to essaying the lead role, Beatty also made his debut in the director's chair, with the assistance of legendary comedy writer Buck Henry (who also plays a supporting role in the film). A remake of 1941 semi-classic HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, HEAVEN CAN WAIT may not surpass the delightful whimsy of the original classic, but it emerges as somewhat of a modern classic in it's own right. The film was an instant hit with both critics and audiences, was nominated for an astounding 9 Oscars including "Best Picture," and remains a magical film that is almost impossible not to love.

Beatty not only proves himself to be a perfectly competent film director, and the picture also provides the star with one of his best roles as an actor. Beatty's good-natured football player Joe is the exact type of lovable stud that you cannot help but fall for. The film's screenplay takes Joe from earth to heaven and to back to earth again through an assortment of various bodies, and Beatty's easygoing charisma holds it all together and keeps viewers involved in the story and fixated on the screen. This is a star performance if there ever was one, and Beatty has rarely been more likable.

The rest of the cast is particularly winning. The still silver-tongued James Mason (in a part originally offered to the retired Cary Grant) as the heavenly Mr. Jordan and the endearing gruff Jack Warden are perfect as father figure-types for Beatty's Joe, and Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon are absolutely terrific as the film's pair of villains. The only performer missing the boat is a blah Julie Christie, who is pleasant but unconvincing in the sadly underwritten role of the ecologist love interest of the body Beatty has temporarily inherited. It seems as though the creators thought dressing Christie in frumpy wardrobe and frizzy hairstyle was enough to give the character depth, but all they succeeded in was making a natural beauty look rather hideous.

The film is a joyous, comedic piece of whimsy that manages to incorporate slapstick comedy, romance, fantasy, and even an underdog sports story without ever feeling bloated or disjointed. The true emotional highpoint comes with Mr. Jordan's farewell to Joe, as well as Max failing to recognize him in his new body. The rather shallow development of Christie's character leaves the film's THE WAY WE WERE-like finale ringing a bit hollow, but it's still an effectively bittersweet coda nonetheless. This film launched a major revival of whimsical comedies that remained popular until the late-eighties, and it easily remains the best effort of this revival.


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