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Heaven Can Wait - 1943


Laird Cregar - Heaven Can Wait 1943

Heaven Can Wait - Released August 13, 1943. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

This might be the "slickest" of Lubitsch's movies. He was a director that excelled in production excellence on his films, so by Heaven Can Wait, his 70th credit, his ability to make a "Lubitsch picture" glisten was complete.

Somehow the movie itself is rather dry, though, however likeable Don Ameche (as 'doomed soul' Henry Van Cleve) is supposed to be. At his demise, Van Cleve goes to the gates of Hell and meets "His Excellency" Laird Cregar, and this is probably the high point of the movie, as Van Cleve begins trying to negotiate his way to damnation. Convinced his philandering (against his wife played by Gene Tierney) is enough to warrant the judgment, which he then details for the doubting devil, the real story is unfolded in flashback.

The theology here is rather subpar, and whether this really is a story of a man's career in adultery or just a guy neglecting his wife isn't (conveniently) clear. Is the poor fellow just being too hard on himself? asks Lubitsch's movie, and you can guess the answer (what are the odds a popular 1943 star like Don Ameche could be sentenced to Hollywood Hell?)

Laird Cregar is the most interesting thing in Heaven Can Wait and personally I'd have preferred he tossed the erring Van Cleve into the flames, but Hollywood must have its way.

Gene Tierney doesn't have much to do here accept react to things happening to her, and to dress well, and as I earlier mentioned, this is a Lubitsch production, so nothing seems left out in presenting the physical of the stage and cast to its best advantage. However, the story isn't up to the task of matching that effort.

Original Page December 2012 | Updated May 2016

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