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Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Not Rated | | 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)
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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

Ernst Lubitsch migrated to 20th Century Fox partly out of frustration at being unable to get his pet projects "A Self-Made Cinderella" and "Margin for Error' made at his home for 20 years, Paramount. He and writing partner Samson Raphaelson hit upon the idea of adapting Leslie Bush-Fekete's 1934 play "Birthdays" for the screen. It was a subject close to Lubitsch's heart as he was undergoing a divorce at the time. 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

Henry Van Cleve: Suddenly I noticed a very attractive girl coming down the staircase. To me she was just another attractive girl but I must admit - attractive.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-é
(uncredited)
Written by Henry J. Sayers
Played when Young Henry tells his mother the six dollars is worth it
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Any other director would destroy this.
3 October 2008 | by bobsgrockSee all my reviews

Ernst Lubitsch, the great European director who immigrated to America and changed movies for the better shows his true light touch in this very original yet very charming story about one man's life and the changes and problems he faces. Don Ameche is perfect as the lead character, Henry Van Cleeves, a man spoiled rotten as a child but grows up and learns many things, mostly from his beautiful wife Martha, played by Gene Tiereny. However, the best role goes to Charles Coburn who plays the rough, frank, outspoken yet lovable grandfather who sympathizes with Henry and strives to make his life better.

The kind of material here could have been used to make an epic story on the level of films like Gone With the Wind or Giant. Nevertheless, we see Henry's life in full motion, always moving ahead even when he is helpless to stop it. And Lubitsch's touch has never been more prominent, taking some scenes any other director would have made disturbing or unsettling and giving them a witty and comical feeling. It's a shame Lubitsch died so early or else we could have gotten more of these classic and moving stories.


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