Movie: Heaven Can Wait
Release Date: June 28, 1978
Director: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry.
Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon, Buck Henry, Vincent Gardenia, Jack Warden.
Tag Lines: “Joe Pendleton…the only guy who ever raised Hell about going to Heaven.”
Relevance: I was only seven years old when ‘Heaven Can Wait’ was released in theaters and I did not see it during its theatrical run. However once it became a featured movie on HBO it was a constant in my household for two reasons. One, at the time I was obsessed with all things death and two, my mom thought Warren Beatty was handsome.
I was born and raised strict Catholic and by the time I was ten or eleven, around the time I saw this movie, I was completely fascinated with God, the devil, heaven, hell and everything in between. I went to Catholic school and my favorite subject was Religion, I carried around a book about all of the saints that I read and re-read all of the time and I loved going to church every week to sing all of my favorite hymns. I even at one time told people that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. Now those that know me in my current life (I have lived many lives in this lifetime) may find this information a little hard to believe. But it’s the truth and unlike our current orange “Liar-in-Chief,” I don’t deny the past. That’s who I was and it made me who I am today.
As a child I also loved having conversations with my mom about spirituality. I asked those questions that probably all kids ask their parents. Why do people die? What happens when we die? Where do we go? Does God really have a long, flowing white beard? My mom probably thought if I didn’t become a priest I was on my way to becoming a reporter. She answered my questions as best she could though, always appeasing me and making me feel comforted about the topics I brought up.
My mom, as reported many times on this blog, was a huge fan of the romantic comedy. If she had to pick a favorite genre, it would hands down be her first choice. She loved to smile. She loved to laugh. And she very much loved the happily-ever-after endings. She was also a fan of everything Hollywood. She could tell you an actor or actress’ name, what movie they starred in and who they were married to just at a quick glimpse. She is the one that got me hooked on the Academy Awards ceremonies at a very early age.
Warren Beatty was quite the heart throb in his day and my mom was not afraid to tell you that he was very, very handsome. “Oh, he’s a playboy, but a handsome one.” So when ‘Heaven Can Wait’ was available via HBO to our family, we most definitely tuned in. I don’t remember the first time that I watched it, but I do know that I enjoyed it. I know this because every time it was on, I was in front of the television. I loved the fantasy element of the film but it also made me laugh. Like my mom, I loved to laugh. So if a movie made me laugh, I always went back to it. And ‘Heaven Can Wait’ has many funny moments and I ate them all up.
The movie also sparked many more conversations with my mom about heaven. Every time I watched it, I would ask another question or bring up another observation. She, as always, engaged in the conversation and answered my questions to the best of her knowledge. She loved the movie as much as I did, but I am sure she was glad when the movie stopped playing on HBO and I got distracted with the next one.
Today’s Thoughts: ‘Heaven Can Wait’ was a box office hit and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning one for Art Direction. It was a family favorite in my house and I have watched it a few times throughout the years. In fact, my husband and I watched it about a year ago when we couldn’t find anything else to watch. Today, I watched it again alone.
Now my beliefs in real life may have done a complete 180, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy a movie with “heaven” in the title. Because the truth of the matter is, I still love this film. It is as funny and charming as ever. It made me laugh many times today as I watched it by myself. I know I am repeating myself when I say this, but good comedy is good comedy. Funny is funny. And this movie is funny.
Warren Beatty and the cast are all terrific, but I have to say Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin always have and always will steal every moment in the movie for me. They are perfection, especially Dyan Cannon. No one could have played this role any better. She is a beautiful comedic actress, and her performance in ‘Heaven Can Wait’ has to be one of my favorites. Dare I say, it’s heavenly. Her screams alone were worth the Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Absolutely brilliant.
Whatever your beliefs may be, ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is a miraculously fun fantasy, romantic comedy. I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me they watched it and they didn’t smile at least once. It is a classic film that comes highly recommended.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Paul Sylbert, Edwin O’Donovan, George Gaines (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Director, Warren Beatty, Buck Henry (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor, Warren Beatty (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Jack Warden (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Dyan Cannon (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Elaine May, Warren Beatty (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, William A. Fraker (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, David Grusin (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Warren Beatty (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture, Dyan Cannon (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium, Elaine May, Warren Beatty (winner).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Hulu, DVD Availability.