Heaven Can Wait

D: Warren Beatty & Buck Henry
Paramount (Warren Beatty)
US 1978
101 mins


W: Warren Beatty & Elaine May [based on the play by Harry Segall]
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Robert C. Jones & Don Zimmermann
Mus: David Grusin
PD: Paul Sylbert
Cos: Theadora Van Runkle & Richard Bruno         

Warren Beatty (Joe Pendleton), Julie Christie (Betty Logan), James Mason (Mr. Jordan), Dyan Cannon (Julia Farnsworth), Charles Grodin (Tony Abbott), Jack Warden (Max Corkle), Buck Henry (The Escort)

This remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan (qv) saw Warren Beatty ape Orson Welles' achievement of being Oscar nominated for producing, directing, co-writing and starring in a motion picture.
Beatty's performance as Joe Pendleton is quite wooden, but the direction and writing of this remake is pretty good. Some minor changes are made, with boxing from the original film being replaced by American Football as Beatty plays a quarterback whose soul is whisked from his body by a premature guardian angel following an automobile accident. On his entry into heaven, Joe discovers it wasn't yet his time to die, but cannot return to his previous body, only to one which hasn't been discovered dead- so he steps into the shoes of a billionaire businessman, who was recently assassinated by his wife and her lover.
Once in his new body, he tries to live the life he previously lived, though not even his dearest friends recognise him in his new form, while he also vies for the affections of an environmentalist who voices discontent with the tycoons business practices.
While the fantasy was far more engaging in the original version, Heaven Can Wait generally does a good job updating the story for the 1970's. Good, old-fashioned Hollywood escapism.

Heaven Can Wait
Heaven Can Wait