HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
Article 4439 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry
Featuring Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie
What it is: Remake about the afterlife
When the soul of a quarterback is removed from its body by an inexperienced angel, the manager of the afterlife way station has to find him a new body in which he can live out his proper span of time.
I will start out by saying that this is a solid, well written, strongly acted, and quite funny remake of HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, which itself was solid, well written, strongly acted and quite funny. I remember it was very well received at the time and was nominated for a slew of Oscars. So I was quite surprised to see it sitting on IMDB with a lowly 6.9 rating, which, though not bad, is still very low for a movie that was once so highly regarded. My main guess as to why this happened is that, though it is well done, it doesn’t really transcend its status as a remake of an already established classic, and I don’t really feel it adds a whole lot new to the mix of the original film. As such, the original film ends up feeling more authentic; just for example, even though I think Jack Warden does a fine job in the role of Max Corkle, when I think of the character, it’s James Gleason that will come to mind first. In fact, with the exceptions of Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon (whose characters are given more comic business to do here than in the original), in all other cases, I’ll think of the actors in the original version first. So, ultimately, despite the fact that this movie is very good, it also feels a bit unnecessary, and I think that’s something that becomes more noticeable with the passage of time. This, of course, may be one of the pitfalls of doing a remake in the first place.