7.5/10
9,536
70 user 51 critic

Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 13 August 1943 (USA)
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)
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

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)
Edit

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

Taglines:

The gay story of a gay blade who believed in LOVE..HONOR and OBEY...that impulse! (print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Lindsey Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - Feb. 17, 1944) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When Henry first notices Martha in the department store at the telephones, a shadow of the camera rig falls across Martha as the scene and camera slides from right to left across the partition between the telephones. See more »

Quotes

Henry Van Cleve: I'd fallen asleep, and suddenly I was awakened by a caressing touch on my forehead. I opened my eyes and there she was sitting right on the edge of the bed. Nellie Brown, registered nurse. Your Excellency, one look at her and it didn't matter whether she was registered or not. Then she took out a thermometer, and she said, 'Open your mouth.' Who wouldn't for Nellie? And then she put the thermometer in and my temperature went up to 110. Who could ask for a more beautiful death?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gossip Girl: New Haven Can Wait (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Listen to the Mockingbird
(uncredited)
Music by Richard Milburn
Played when Baby Henry is being wheeled around the park
See more »

User Reviews

 
Birthdays
21 May 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

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!


34 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 70 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

13 August 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heaven Can Wait 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

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Holiday Movies on Prime Video for the Whole Family

Prime Video has you covered this holiday season with movies for the family. Here are some of our picks to get you in the spirit.

Get some picks



Recently Viewed