Based on a play, Heaven Can Wait stands up well as a film. Instead, we're only told about the episodes indirectly via conversations between Henry and his long-suffering wife, Martha. His Excellency, however, is not convinced that Henry is as wicked as he makes out, and asks him to tell his life story. Beatty and Christie had earlier occupied the lead roles in 1971. Henry and Grandpa follow her there.
The film has an intimate sense of history and humanity. Instead it has a kind of earnest cheerfulness that is sometimes most winning. . Based on a play, Heaven Can Wait stands up well as a film. But they are not exactly the type of parents one would like to return home to visit. You actually get a feeling that this relationship is real and can actually happen. A well written, well acted and well directed film that is unjustly underrated and should be rediscovered.
The supporting cast includes , , , , , , , , and. I'd seen Don Ameche in other movies, but this was the youngest Don I've seen, playing the part of the dead man, Henry Van Cleve. Later, obnoxious cousin Albert introduces the family to his fiancée, Martha , and her feuding parents, the Strables ,. Lubitsch, their romance, while sweet, it's not sugary. Ameche does a good job of underplaying his role by being the charming and suave self that he is in many of his films. Even the Devil finds Henry charming and his infidelity a mere trifle. Line after line of comic genius delivered with precision timing.
Born in on October 25, 1872, Henry is the spoiled only child of stuffy, clueless, wealthy parents Randolph and Bertha. Henry, however, lives to a ripe old age, as much of a reprobate as ever, and eventually dies fittingly enough in the arms of a pretty young nurse. Don Ameche is magnificent as a scamp who feels he should go straight to hell upon his death. Don Ameche is charming, Gene Tierney is beautiful, the script is witty and bright, the direction faultless. Henry says that the crime is the way he lived his life, especially the way he treated the women in his life, and more specifically his wife Martha, whose heart he stole from his cousin and had to continually win back on occasions. However, a main credit of the film is the cast of incredibly nice actors willingly? Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy.
We all know that lovable Henry really belongs in Heaven with the wife he cheated on for several decades. I just found the story a bit boring in parts, too heavy-handed perhaps, and perhaps tried to include too much. When Palette starts protesting, Main in retaliation starts reading the Katzenjammer Kids Palette's favorite comic strip to explain how the Captain got out of a barrel with the aid of a snake. And so follows a light-hearted, quite frivolous, and somewhat entertaining story of why he should think that. There are really no unlikable characters here - Lubitsch accepts people's foibles as natural and makes them endearing. Henry convinces her to elope with him instead. That woman, played by Gene Tierney, shows great comic timing to play off of the manipulative Ameche.
It seems that Henry was a bit of a rogue and wasn't always faithful to his wife. Tierney makes a fine marriage partner and lover for Ameche, who is a turn of the century ladies' man, but not as awful a person as he thinks he is, or as many of his contemporaries have made him feel he is. He was also fairly loose with his money. This was a remarkable feat, as Henry ages from a teenager to an old man in his seventies, yet Ameche 35 at the time is able to make him seem credible at all stages of his life. In this film there is a classic comic section dealing with Marjorie Main and Eugene Palette, the parents of Gene Tierney the film's heroine. The cast reunites Beatty with and , who also starred together in 1975.
Death and the afterlife serve merely as a backdrop. It's hard to pick from a cast that includes Signe Hasso, Spring Byington, Marjorie Main, Louis Calhern, Eugene Palette, Allyn Joslyn, and Charles Coburn any particular favorite. It was amazing to see Majorie Main, as Mrs Strabel, speak quietly; I'd gotten so used to her as Ma Kettle, always screeching at others. This 1943 movie continues to charm audiences after all these years. He is an old man now. Sure it is a bit dated at times, but overall I believe the message and events occurring transcend age, probably due in small part to the fact that the film spans eighty or so years. He loves women and spends his life trying to get them to love him.
But how can anyone resist that charm? Pendleton immediately arrives in the afterlife. Ernst Lubitsch does a fantastic job as director - I would say one of his best films. It turns out that Albert was the first suitor of whom both her parents approved. The moment is both beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. He is shown snapping to life in Jarrett's body, then leading the Rams to victory. This is a most important date for him because he meets and falls in love with the lovely Martha Strabel, a beauty from Kansas, that is his idiotic cousin's fiancée.
Ernst Lubitsch was a man destined to take the play in which this film is based to the screen. Although the action takes place in New York, it could equally well be set in fin-de-siecle Old Vienna. Heaven Can Wait is a truly magnificent film - witty at times, but also quite sad. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. While earlier audiences could laugh and take this film at its own valuation, it is now difficult not to squirm at her humiliation--or wonder if her finding him endearing isn't a cover-up for her real motivation, his wealth and social position. Henry grows up an idle young man, with a taste for attractive showgirls.
He is so charming, so elegant, and so giving of his affections to young ladies and Gene Tierney has never looked so glamorous. Don Ameche's character is absolutely sure he's going to hell and if you listened to fundamentalist ministers he sure would be. His films usually deal with sexual matters, but touch upon the follies and foibles of the human race in other respects including culture, business, politics. But this kind of material didn't suit the setting here, of Victorian America, or the stricter morals necessary after the adoption of the Production Code in 1934. 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 lobby of the waiting room for Hell was especially appealing in a 40's art deco way. In his twenties he elopes with the beautiful Martha Strabel, the daughter of a Kansas meat-packer and the fiancée of his stuffy, boring cousin Albert.