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Heaven Can Wait (1943)

An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld.

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writers:

Samson Raphaelson (screenplay), Leslie Bush-Fekete (play) (as Lazlo Bus-Fekete)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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)
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Storyline

Henry Van Cleve presents himself at the gates of Hell only to find he is closely vetted on his qualifications for entry. Surprised there is any question on his suitability, he recounts his lively life and the women he has known from his mother onwards, but mainly concentrating on his happy but sometimes difficult twenty-five years of marriage to Martha. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

comics | hell | money | hades | birthday | See All (209) »

Taglines:

He believed in Love . . . Honor . . . and Obey - That Impulse!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

13 August 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El diablo dijo no See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Gene Tierney had difficulties with Lubitsch at the beginning of the shooting of this film, they later got along famously and Tierney went on to call Lubitsch "A Brilliant Director" in her 1985 interview in Houston. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

His Excellency: When did it happen, Mr. Van Cleve?
Henry Van Cleve: Tuesday. To be exact, I died at 9:36 in the evening.
His Excellency: I trust you didn't suffer much.
Henry Van Cleve: Oh, no, no, not in the least. I had finished my dinner...
His Excellency: A good one, I hope.
Henry Van Cleve: Oh, excellent, excellent. I ate everything the doctor forbade, and then... well, to make a long story short, shall we say, I fell asleep without realizing it. And when I awakened, there were all my relatives speaking in low tones and saying nothing but the kindest things about me. Then I knew I was ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Making 'Sólo con tu pareja' (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The Fountain in the Park
(uncredited)
aka "While Strolling Through the Park One Day"
Music by Ed Haley
Played when Young Henry gives the beetle to the girl
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Exquisite Lubitsch's work
11 January 2001 | by pzanardoSee all my reviews

"Heaven Can Wait" lies among Ernst Lubitsch's best movies, and that's largely enough to ensure that it is a masterpiece.

It is the exquisite story of the women-devoted life of a never-repenting Casanova, from childhood through old age, death, and even after-death. We find Lubitsch's trade-mark elegant sense of humor, perfect timing, sharp intelligence. There is also a rather deep, though cheerful, representation of common, typical sides (faults, to say better) of a male character: shallow sentiments, selfish approach to a woman's true love, childish refuse to accept years passing.

The stars Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn make a superb work. However, a main credit of the film is the cast of incredibly nice actors (willingly?) gathered by the director. The Devil himself (Laird Cregar) is likeable, with his perfect manners and friendly approach! We are unable to dislike even those shrewish old rich women, who pop out along the movie. It's impossible to give the deserved credit to all those wonderfully talented supporting actors. Let me mention the delightful butler Jasper (Clarence Muse), with his role of ambassador between Mr. and Mrs. Strabel.

To be personal, I'm very fond of "Heaven Can Wait", since it was my first encounter with Gene Tierney. When she appeared on the screen I couldn't believe my eyes: "Who, who, who is this girl? I'm dreaming or what? Does this girl actually exist?" Honestly, I felt dizzy for the remainder of the movie.

Only after repeated views of "Heaven Can Wait" I was able to distract my eyes from Gene, and fully appreciate the great merits of this magnificent, highly-recommended Lubitsch's masterpiece.


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