6.9/10
17,489
109 user 41 critic

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.

Writers:

Elaine May (screenplay), Warren Beatty (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Beatty ... Joe Pendleton
Julie Christie ... Betty Logan
James Mason ... Mr. Jordan
Jack Warden ... Max Corkle
Charles Grodin ... Tony Abbott
Dyan Cannon ... Julia Farnsworth
Buck Henry ... The Escort
Vincent Gardenia ... Krim
Joseph Maher ... Sisk
Hamilton Camp ... Bentley
Arthur Malet ... Everett
Stephanie Faracy ... Corinne
Jeannie Linero Jeannie Linero ... Lavinia
Harry D.K. Wong Harry D.K. Wong ... Gardener
George J. Manos 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 June 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heaven Can Wait See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,652,486, 2 July 1978

Gross USA:

$81,640,278

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$81,640,278
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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". See more »

Goofs

When Joe takes over the body of quarterback Tom Jarrett, the Super Bowl game is in sudden death overtime. However, all the players are wearing spotlessly clean uniforms. See more »

Quotes

Joe Pendleton: Now do you believe me, Max? Please say you believe me. Please? Max? They don't have a football team in Heaven, so God couldn't make me first string.
[to Mr. Jordan]
Joe Pendleton: He doesn't believe me, Mr. Jordan.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bloodrage (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

The Rams Marching Song
By John T. Boudreau
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A well done update of "Here Comes Mr. Jordan"
7 November 2017 | by sme_no_densetsuSee all my reviews

"Heaven Can Wait" is a remake of the 1941 fantasy/comedy classic "Here Comes Mr. Jordan", starring Robert Montgomery as pugilist Joe Pendleton along with Claude Rains as the titular Mr. Jordan. This time around, Warren Beatty takes on the Joe Pendleton role, now a Los Angeles Rams quarterback instead of a boxer.

The story is put in motion when Pendleton is yanked out of his body by an overzealous angel before he's meant to die. By the time the error is discovered it's too late for Pendleton to be placed back into his own body so he must accept an alternate host among individuals who are about to die. When he does finally settle on a body he quickly resumes his goal of attempting to become the starting quarterback for the Rams but he must also contend with his predecessor's murderous wife and shady business dealings.

Being pretty faithfully based on "Here Comes Mr. Jordan", it's no surprise that "Heaven Can Wait" has a somewhat old-fashioned feel. However, that's a good thing. The clever plot of the original was kept mostly intact while bringing the characters and the comedy up to date. Overall, I find the remake to be funnier and just different enough from the original to keep it fresh. I still give the original a slight edge in narrative construction, though.

The cast of the original made for a high standard to match but I think that the remake met and possibly even exceeded it. Beatty made an engaging lead of a totally different sort than Robert Montgomery and being teamed with Julie Christie again was the icing on the cake. The supporting cast was also superb with multiple standouts including James Mason, Jack Warden, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon & Buck Henry.

Lavished with nine Oscar nominations, "Heaven Can Wait" is a movie that shows attention to detail in all areas. In the end, the film's only Oscar win was for art direction/set decoration, though the tight writing and jaunty musical score could have just as easily been honoured as well (not to mention one or more of the actors).

I'm a bit surprised at the movie's somewhat middling rating on this site but I suspect that's probably because it represents a throwback to an earlier era of film-making. If that sounds appealing to you, by all means check this movie out.


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