Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I've Just Seen: Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Heaven Can Wait (1943)


Director: Ernst Lubitsch

The premise behind this Lubitsch film is ripe for comedy: a man, recently died, makes his appearance in Hell's waiting room, believing himself to be a prime candidate for membership. 'His Excellency' is not sure however, and asks for the man's own account of his life so as the deem him worthy of entry. For the rest of the film Henry Van Cleve recounts his various loves and mischiefs, which all seem to revolve around sex (though that word is never mentioned).

The first half of the film is very witty and cheeky, full of that 'Lubitsch touch' that made the director's films so popular. Don Ameche has the suitable glint in the eye required for the role, particularly in the scene where he discusses the book How to Make Your Husband Happy with a very embarrassed Gene Tierney (who plays Martha). The script has the feel of an Oscar Wilde play, with many chuckle-inducing lines. The film's second half is not as tight, and did not really build to anything except the very last scene. The Hays Code also seems to have contained the more risque aspects of the plot; a pity considering what Preston Sturges did in his films.

A sweet and clever film, though not as good as the immaculate Ninotchka and To Be or Not To Be.


  1. Replies
    1. This isn't even the oldest. But yes, I am not ageist in my viewing habits.