Heaven Can Wait

Movies, Comedy
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Heaven Can Wait

Count German expat Ernst Lubitsch among the directors whose films require a darkened theater and a willing audience to even work—you just won’t get him at home on your flatscreen. Famous for his “Lubitsch touch,” he was dangerously urbane for Hollywood. He heated up icy Greta Garbo in Ninotchka (1939), perfected rom-com flirtation in The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and always imagined a sophisticated, sexy universe that’s still worth aspiring to.

Call it a beautiful piece of fortune that Lubitsch’s 1943 comedy, Heaven Can Wait (no relation to the 1978 Warren Beatty football movie), has gotten a full digital restoration—it doesn’t scream out with visual pyrotechnics, even for being set in turn-of-the-20th-century NYC high society. But the film deserves it, if only to relieve audiences of a low, constant chuckle: You’ll be shocked that something this witty got past the censors.

It’s basically the story of a dead man (Don Ameche) happily recounting his playboy lifestyle to “His Excellency” in an elegant drawing room. Satan may not believe him but leans in anyhow. The movie’s takeaway is still bold: Laughs will always trump good and evil.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: N/R
Release date: Friday June 17 2016
Duration: 112 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Screenwriter: Samson Raphaelson
Cast: Signe Hasso
Charles Coburn
Gene Tierney
Louis Calhern
Eugene Pallette
Don Ameche
Spring Byington
Laird Cregar
Allyn Joslyn
Marjorie Main
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