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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 »

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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:

El cielo puede esperar See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,192,799, 2 July 1978, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$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

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). 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

Mr. Jordan: He's been drugged by those two downstairs. This is a murder. See how he's slowly sliding into the water?
See more »


Soundtracks

Happy Birthday to You
By Mildred J. Hill
and Patty S. Hill
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Thoroughly charming afterlife comedy
6 February 2008 | by robb_772See all my reviews

After appearing the rare Mike Nichols misstep THE FORTUNE (1975), it took Beatty three long years to return to the screen with the genteel comedy/fantasy HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978). In addition to essaying the lead role, Beatty also made his debut in the director's chair, with the assistance of legendary comedy writer Buck Henry (who also plays a supporting role in the film). A remake of 1941 semi-classic HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, HEAVEN CAN WAIT may not surpass the delightful whimsy of the original classic, but it emerges as somewhat of a modern classic in it's own right. The film was an instant hit with both critics and audiences, was nominated for an astounding 9 Oscars including "Best Picture," and remains a magical film that is almost impossible not to love.

Beatty not only proves himself to be a perfectly competent film director, and the picture also provides the star with one of his best roles as an actor. Beatty's good-natured football player Joe is the exact type of lovable stud that you cannot help but fall for. The film's screenplay takes Joe from earth to heaven and to back to earth again through an assortment of various bodies, and Beatty's easygoing charisma holds it all together and keeps viewers involved in the story and fixated on the screen. This is a star performance if there ever was one, and Beatty has rarely been more likable.

The rest of the cast is particularly winning. The still silver-tongued James Mason (in a part originally offered to the retired Cary Grant) as the heavenly Mr. Jordan and the endearing gruff Jack Warden are perfect as father figure-types for Beatty's Joe, and Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon are absolutely terrific as the film's pair of villains. The only performer missing the boat is a blah Julie Christie, who is pleasant but unconvincing in the sadly underwritten role of the ecologist love interest of the body Beatty has temporarily inherited. It seems as though the creators thought dressing Christie in frumpy wardrobe and frizzy hairstyle was enough to give the character depth, but all they succeeded in was making a natural beauty look rather hideous.

The film is a joyous, comedic piece of whimsy that manages to incorporate slapstick comedy, romance, fantasy, and even an underdog sports story without ever feeling bloated or disjointed. The true emotional highpoint comes with Mr. Jordan's farewell to Joe, as well as Max failing to recognize him in his new body. The rather shallow development of Christie's character leaves the film's THE WAY WE WERE-like finale ringing a bit hollow, but it's still an effectively bittersweet coda nonetheless. This film launched a major revival of whimsical comedies that remained popular until the late-eighties, and it easily remains the best effort of this revival.


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