The first choice for Mr. Jordan was Cary Grant who reportedly turned down a US $1-million offer from Warren Beatty. Website Wikipedia states: "Beatty lobbied hard for Cary Grant to accept the role of Mr. Jordan, going so far as to have Grant's ex-wife, Dyan Cannon, who stars as Julia Farnsworth, urge him to take the part. Although Grant was tempted, he ultimately decided not to end his retirement from filmmaking". The Turner Classic Movies website states: "Beatty had some grandiose notions about who should play Mr. Jordan . . . He wanted Cary Grant . . . but Grant had retired a dozen years earlier, and had no interest in returning to the screen". Beatty also considered former Senator and 1968 anti-war Democrat presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy for the part prior to James Mason in the end being cast as Mr. Jordan.
James Mason once said about working with two directors (Warren Beatty and Buck Henry) on the film: "I was not upset by having two directors, but it was different. When Warren was in front of the camera, he decided it would be a nice idea to have somebody with whom he was on good terms behind it; he didn't have to bother with keeping an eye on the other actors."
The exquisite and grandiose Farnsworth Mansion in the film is portrayed by the Filoli Estate which is located at 86 Cañada Road, Woodside in California, USA. The movie's closing credits declare that the picture was "filmed in part at Filoli, a property given by Mrs William P Roth to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and administered by Filoli Center".
James Gleason was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the role of Max Corkle for this movie's source original film Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). This is the first time in Academy Awards history for a person to be nominated for a supporting Oscar for a role for which a different person would later also be nominated for a supporting Oscar: Jack Warden was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Max Corkle in Heaven Can Wait (1978).
The film was originally pitched to Warner Bros., but studio production chief David Geffen (one of Dreamworks' founders) ditched the idea for another film. After Geffen was fired, the project ended up in the hands of Barry Diller, who green-lit the go-ahead for the project. It was Warren Beatty's associate Richard Sylbert, also a studio executive, who recommended pitching the project to the Paramount Pictures studio. Beatty would later use the film's commercial and critical success as the leverage for financing his next film Reds (1981) which was also made with Paramount.
Directors Arthur Penn, Mike Nichols and 'Peter Bogdanovich' were all considered to direct and were invited by Warren Beatty to helm the picture but they all turned down directing the movie allegedly due to Beatty's reputation for being too controlling.
The role of Joe Pendleton was originally a boxer in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Warren Beatty originally wanted to have Muhammad Ali play the boxer. When Ali's boxing schedule prevented him from doing the movie, Beatty - who could not box but could play football - recast the lead role as a football player
The picture was selected for inclusion in the American Film Institute's America's Funniest Movies list of 500 movies nominated for the top 100 Funniest American Movies of all time known as the "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" list.
Second of three collaborations of actor Jack Warden and Warren Beatty, the first having been about three years earlier with Shampoo (1975). These two 1970s films brought Warden to the peak of his acting career as he displayed a flair for comedy in both Shampoo (1975) and Heaven Can Wait (1978). As the faintly sinister businessman "Lester" in Shampoo (1975) and as the perpetually befuddled football trainer "Max Corkle" in Heaven Can Wait (1978), Warden received Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actor for both pictures but did not win the Oscar for either movie. Warden also later appeared in Beatty's Bulworth (1998) around twenty years after Heaven Can Wait (1978).
Warren Beatty received four Academy Award nominations for this movie. The Oscar nominations were for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Writer (Adapted Screenplay), and Best Picture (Beatty was the producer). Reds (1981) was the second consecutive picture where Warren Beatty was Oscar nominated in four Academy Award categories for the one film. In Heaven Can Wait (1978), Beatty had been nominated for Best Actor, Best Director (co-director with Buck Henry), Best Adapted Screenplay (with Elaine May) and Best Picture (Producer). For Reds (1981), Beatty was nominated for Best Actor, Best Director (sole director), Best Original Screenplay (with Trevor Griffiths) and Best Picture (Producer). Of these eight nominations, Beatty only won just the one Oscar statuette, which was for directing Reds (1981).
The Oakland Raiders are mentioned as being close to Los Angeles. The Raiders would move from Oakland to L.A. in 1982, then return to Oakland in 1994, the same year the Rams moved to St. Louis, leaving L.A. without any NFL team. In 2016, however, the Rams returned to L.A.
Promotional materials such as movie posters for the picture prominently show Warren Beatty as an angel with a pair of wings but in reality Beatty is never seen adorned with wings in the movie at all and as such this artwork is purely impressionistic.
The film, a remake, was made and released about thirty-seven years after its source Hollywood Golden Age classic Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), and about thirty-one years after that movie's sequel, Down to Earth (1947), which was also based on some of the same material, the 1938 play "Wonderful Journey" by Harry Segall which had originally been entitled "Heaven Can Wait".
Coast to Coast (1980) reunited actress Dyan Cannon with the Paramount Pictures Studio who had about two years earlier had made this Warren Beatty romantic-comedy fantasy film Heaven Can Wait (1978) which co-stars Cannon for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award (Oscar) nomination. Coast to Coast (1980) provided Cannon with a new vehicle for her talents but this time with a comedic lead role in a brand new Paramount Pictures production. The Oscar nomination for Heaven Can Wait (1978) has been said to have lead Cannon to be cast in the lead female role for Coast to Coast (1980).
"Here Comes Mr. Jordan" is reportedly based on the play "Heaven Can Wait" (1938). However, there are two films with that title. The first film Heaven Can Wait (1943), staring Don Ameche and Gene Tierney, is based on the stage play "Birthday" (1935), written by Leslie Bush-Fekete. In the play and film, the central character is an older man who has lived a full life and is confronted by the devil, who has to decide if he qualifies to enter "Hades". It is a different storyline than the one for "Here Comes Mr. Jordan". The second film titled Heaven Can Wait (1978), staring Warren Beatty, based on a play with the same title, written by Harry Segall, is practically a word for word rewrite of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). The one exception being that a football player replaces a ring boxer as the central character.
The picture was selected for inclusion in the American Film Institute's America's Greatest Love Stories list of 400 films nominated for the top 100 American Greatest Love Story Movies of all time known as the "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" list.
First of two collaborations of Buck Henry and Warren Beatty who both acted in and directed this movie with Beatty also producing and screen-writing. The second was about twenty-three years later with Town & Country (2001) where Beatty was an actor and Henry was an actor and screenwriter.
First of two collaborations of Elaine May and Warren Beatty who would work together later on Ishtar (1987), where May wrote and directed and Beatty starred and produced, and whose release year was the digit reverse of Heaven Can Wait (1978)'s release year. The screenplay for Heaven Can Wait (1978), which May and Beatty wrote, is credited in the billing for its later remake Down to Earth (2001).
The film was made and released about thirty-two years after its source stage play "Wonderful Journey" by Harry Segall, which had been originally entitled "Heaven Can Wait", had been first performed in 1946. The Broadway production opened at the Coronet Theatre on Christmas Day the 25th of December 1946 where it ran for only nine performances before it closed on 1st January 1947.
Second of three major cinema movies of the film's source stage play. The first was Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which produced a sequel called Down to Earth (1947), the second was Heaven Can Wait (1978), and the third was Down to Earth (2001). Heaven Can Wait (1943), despite having the same title as this first remake Heaven Can Wait (1978), was not a version of the film's source story, which was known on the stage as "Wonderful Journey" but was originally entitled for theatre as "Heaven Can Wait".