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Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Comedy | 112 minutes
3,47 99 votes

Genre: Comedy / Romance

Duration: 112 minuten

Country: United States

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

Stars: Gene Tierney, Don Ameche and Charles Coburn

IMDb score: 7,4 (12.068)

Releasedate: 5 August 1943

Heaven Can Wait plot

"He believed in Love… Honor… and Obey – That Impulse!"

The moment Henry Van Cleve trades the temporal for the eternal, he realizes that he is extremely unlikely to go to heaven. He therefore reports directly to the gates of hell, but is surprised to learn that he is not simply accepted. He must first convince His Excellency that his way of life justifies a stay in hell. Henry looks back on all the women he has known in his life, starting with his mother. The next woman to leave traces is his French governess: thanks to her, young Henry gains considerable life experience, much to the dismay of his parents. The most important woman is without a doubt Martha, his cousin Albert's betrothed.

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Full Cast & Crew

Actors and actresses

Henry Van Cleve

Martha Strabel Van Cleve

Hugo Van Cleve

Mrs. Strabel

His Excellency

Bertha Van Cleve

Albert Van Cleve

E.F. Strabel

Yvette ("Mademoiselle")

Randolph Van Cleve

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avatar van Movsin


  • 7562 messages
  • 8025 votes

Fresh romantic comedy with wonderful characters such as "his Excellence" as the devil, the smooth "mademoiselle, the "contradictory" couple with the unforgettable Eugene Pallette, but also with an excellent performance by Don Ameche.

It's not all that deep and actually it doesn't have to be, because what particularly appealed to me were the smooth, often innocent but also witty dialogues (If you walked in a restaurant, I'd be a waiter, if you were in a burning building, I'd be a fireman, if you walked into an elevator, I'd stop it between two floors and spend the rest of our lives...) which were also delivered excellently.

Ernst Lubitsch, who achieved several successes in the forties, but who was also active much earlier, has created an original, enjoyable and relaxing film here.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Roger Thornhill

Roger Thornhill

  • 5486 messages
  • 2153 votes

Excellent piece, yeyo. Just rewatched the film, and you've tapped into some pretty delicate layers. A beautiful and wise film that is worth revisiting again and again for its dialogue, its performances (oh, that Charles Coburn), and its subtle shifts in the ways in which we perceive not only Henry but also the other characters (not to mention forgetting the beautiful twist when Henry approaches Peggy Nash with completely different motives than initially apparent). As one José Arroyo writes on the internet: "When I grow up I too, like Lubitsch, want to see life in its fullness, including its frailties, its cruelties, and its horrors, but through a loving lens and with a chuckle."
By the way, your last sentence shows a beautiful poetic view, but that camera movement could also simply be a kind of visual rhyme because the focus moves further down to ultimately arrive at "that place down below", where Henry and His Excellency "return" from hour and a half flashback. (Nice description by Kendahl Cruver of Laird Cregar, the actor who plays the devil: "Cregar even has the right look for the role: sort of handsome, sort of repellant and definitely dangerous looking.")

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Film Pegasus

Film Pegasus (moderator films)

  • 30283 messages
  • 5154 votes

The film starts very nicely when we see the setting in hell where the devil receives Henry. Visually it remains well done, but it is not that special further into the film. The story is really dated, and I still love classic Hollywood. The dialogues are not very special, the acting performances are quite variable. The film is not bad, it moves along quietly and provides a feel-good film. Although I expected more from it.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original