6.9/10
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102 user 35 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:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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The Escort
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Corinne
Jeannie Linero ...
Lavinia
Harry D.K. Wong ...
Gardener
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:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

28 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El cielo puede esperar  »

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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

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For his work in this movie, Warren Beatty became the first person to be Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for the same film, as well as the first to be nominated in these three categories and Best Screenplay (in this case, Adapted). See more »

Goofs

During the long scene at the wishing well, the wellhead alternates between being in sunshine and being in the shade. 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?
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Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Oh! Heavenly Dog (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Entry of the Gladiators
By Julius Fucík (as Julius Fucik)
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User Reviews

 
Thoroughly charming afterlife comedy
6 February 2008 | by See 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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