Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Article #565 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-1-2002
Posting date: 2-24-2003

A newly-dead womanizer explains to the devil why he should be admitted into hell.

The last time the name of Ernst Lubitsch received mention in this series was when I covered his somewhat anomalous horror offering THE EYES OF THE MUMMY; this offering is much more typical of his style, and consequently of less interest to fans of fantastic cinema. The conversation with the devil is only a framing device used to bookend a romantic comedy with Don Ameche recounting the story of his life and his inabliity to keep away from women. It’s very funny at times, and maintains that lightness of touch necessary to ensure that we like the characters, but it’s the character roles that steal the movie; Charles Coburn is great as the crotchety cynical grandfather who sees quite a bit of himself in his grandson, and the parents of his eventual wife are played by Marjorie Main and Eugene Pallette. Furthermore, the devil is played by Laird Cregar, though he has very little screen time, and his son is played at one point by Tod Andrews, who would later appear in several horror films such as VOODOO MAN and FROM HELL IT CAME. It does help if you have a taste for this sort of thing, and I’m not even sure this is the best place to start; at almost two hours I think it’s a little too long. Nevertheless, fans of fantastic cinema should be warned that the fantastic elements are very marginal here.

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