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

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Cast

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Hamilton Camp ...
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Jeannie Linero ...
Harry D.K. Wong ...
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 »

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Release Date:

28 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El cielo puede esperar  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bruce Kimmel has clarified confusion regarding the film's source stage play and the various cinema movies associated with it in some way: "Once upon a time there was a play by Harry Segall called 'Heaven Can Wait', written in 1938 and not produced on Broadway. Nevertheless, the film rights were bought and the resulting 1941 film, retitled Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), was a hit. This was followed by a 1943 Ernst Lubitsch film called Heaven Can Wait (1943) that had nothing to do with Mr. Segall, his play or Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Then came Down to Earth (1947), starring Rita Hayworth, which was a sort of sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), bringing back the characters played by Edward Everett Horton and James Gleason, but not the central characters. That same year [actually late 1946], the Segall play finally made it to Broadway but under a different title, 'Wonderful Journey' - a production that ran only nine performances. Flash forward to 1978 - Paramount Pictures and Warren Beatty remake Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) but change the title back to Segall's original title, 'Heaven Can Wait'. Two years later comes Xanadu (1980), starring Olivia Newton-John, which was a sort of remake of Down to Earth (1947), the sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Now jump to 2001 when Segall's 'Heaven Can Wait' is remade again, this time as Down to Earth (2001) starring Chris Rock - and having nothing to do with Down to Earth (1947), the sort of sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)". See more »

Goofs

In overtime of the Super Bowl, Pendleton is sacked near his own 45 yard line. On the next play, he completes a pass well downfield. However, on the next play, the Rams are back at their own 45 yard line. See more »

Quotes

Newspaperman: Isn't it true that an accident in your west coast nuclear plant could stimulate seismic activity in the San Andreas fault, which could destroy most of southern California?
Tony Abbott: I think you'd have to define "destroy".
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (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 (United States) – 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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