Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Directors: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

Writers: Elaine May, Warren Beatty, Harry Segall, Robert Towne

Composer: Dave Grusin

Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Jack Warden, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon, Buck Henry, Vincent Gardenia, Joseph Maher, Hamilton Camp, Arthur Malet, Stephanie Faracy, R.G. Armstrong

More info: IMDb

Plot: Joe Pendleton is a quarterback preparing to lead his team to the superbowl when he is almost killed in an accident. An overanxious angel plucks him to heaven only to discover that he wasn't ready to die, and that his body has been cremated. A new body must be found, and that of a recently murdered millionaire is chosen. His wife and accountant, the murderers, are confused by this development, as he buys the L.A. Rams in order to once again quarterback them into the Superbowl.

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

From time to time one of my friends will accuse me of being too cynical, cold, harsh and unromantic.  That's when I point them to this film.  I get all kinds of choked up every time I watch it. It doesn't seem like it would pack that much emotional weight considering Joe (Beatty) falls in love at first sight with Betty (Christie) and they spend little quality time together.  But what they have is enough to establish a potential deep relationship.  What sells it though is the performances.  Beatty especially.  The look on his face when he sees her for the first time is priceless and it says everything.  And then there's his final scene with Betty.  Powerful stuff.  Besides all of that, it's a great story and it's funny as shit.  I've seen this a few times since I first caught it on HBO probably around 1980 and it gets me in the same places every single time.  The laughs are plentiful and solid.  Charles Grodin & Dyan Cannon are fucking hilarious.  For my money this is easily Dave Grusin's finest score and it perfectly compliments the film.  It's a beautifully cast and acted film where all of the performances seem as genuine as they come and with that they're able to sell it.  This is the kind of romantic comedy that touches me, not the typical BS we've been fed for the past twenty years.  But then again, this isn't your average picture.  It's magic.

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