Heaven Can Wait is an outstanding film. Harry Segall’s fantasy comedy-drama play, made in 1941 by Columbia as Here Comes Mr Jordan, returns in an updated, slightly more macabre treatment.
Warren Beatty plays an aging football star, prematurely summoned to judgment after a traffic accident because celestial messenger (played by co-director Buck Henry) jumped the gun. This embarrasses James Mason into permitting Beatty to inhabit temporarily another body. The only available one is that of a wealthy industrialist whose death is plotted by floozy wife Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin, the tycoon’s nerd secretary.
Julie Christie falls for the rich guy, whose main ambition is to resume his football career in which coach Jack Warden plays an important part.
Script and direction are very strong, providing a rich mix of visual and verbal humor that is controlled and avoids the extremes of cheap vulgarity and overly esoteric whimsy.
1978: Best Art Direction.
Nominations: Best Picture, Directors (Warren Beatty, Buck Henry), Actor (Warren Beatty), Supp. Actor (Jack Warden), Supp. Actress (Dyan Cannon), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score