Review: ‘Heaven Can Wait’

Provided with generous slices of comedy, skillfully handled by producer-director Ernst Lubitsch, this is for most of the 112 minutes a smooth, appealing and highly commercial production. Lubitsch has endowed it with light, amusing sophistication and heart-warming nostalgia. He has handled Don Ameche and Gene Tierney, in (for them) difficult characterizations, dexterously.

Provided with generous slices of comedy, skillfully handled by producer-director Ernst Lubitsch, this is for most of the 112 minutes a smooth, appealing and highly commercial production. Lubitsch has endowed it with light, amusing sophistication and heart-warming nostalgia. He has handled Don Ameche and Gene Tierney, in (for them) difficult characterizations, dexterously.

The Lazlo Bus-Fekete play [Birthday] covers the complete span of a man’s life, from precocious infancy to in this case, the sprightly senility of a 70-year-old playboy. It opens with the deceased (Ameche) asking Satan for a passport to hell, which is not being issued unless the applicant can justify his right to it.

This is followed by a recital of real and fancied misdeeds from the time the sinner discovers that, in order to get girls, a boy must have plenty of beetles, through the smartly fashioned hilarious drunk scene with a French maid at the age of 15, to the thefting of his cousin’s fiancee, whom he marries.

Charles Coburn as the fond grandfather who takes a hand in his favorite grandson’s romantic and domestic problems, walks away with the early sequences in a terrific comedy performance.

1943: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Color Cinematography

Heaven Can Wait

Production

20th Century-Fox. Dir Ernst Lubitsch; Producer Ernst Lubitsch; Screenplay Samson Raphaelson; Camera Edward Cronjager; Editor Dorothy Spencer; Music Alfred Newman Art Dir James Basevi, Leland Fuller

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Gene Tierney Don Ameche Charles Coburn Marjorie Main Laird Cregar Louis Calhern
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