Guilty Pleasures Film Festival 2013

“Heaven Can Wait”

Buck Henry and Warren Beatty in "Heaven Can Wait" (Paramount, 1978)

Buck Henry and Warren Beatty in “Heaven Can Wait” (Paramount, 1978)

Another movie I loved as a kid was “Heaven Can Wait” (Paramount, 1978). Warren Beatty stars as Joe Pendleton, a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams football team who, on the weekend when he is about to get put in as a starter, gets pulled out of his body by his guardian angel escort (played by Buck Henry) just before an impending accident. When Mr. Jordan (played by James Mason), the supervisor in the afterlife, sees in his file that Joe was supposed to survive the accident and that he wasn’t supposed to die for many years in the future, they try to restore Joe to his original body, only to discover that it had already been cremated. Mr. Jordan makes a deal with Joe that they will find a suitable replacement body for him (mostly, one that can play professional football), but in the meantime, they will need to put him in a temporary body while they search. One option is the body of recently murdered (by his wife and his personal assistant, no less) Leo Farnsworth. Joe is unsure about going into Mr. Farnsworth body’s until he sees the lovely Betty Logan (played by the lovely Julie Christie), who has come to plead her case against one of Mr. Farnsworth business dealings. Crazyness ensues as Joe lives life through Leo’s body while “heaven can wait.” This is such a terrific, charming and hopeful romantic comedy. Highly recommended. I couldn’t find it on Netflix, but it was available on Amazon Instant Video. Also stars Jack Warden, Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon. Written by Elaine May and Warren Beatty. Based on the play by Harry Segall. Directed by Bucky Henry and Warren Beatty. “There is always a plan.”