Based on a play from Leslie Bush-Fekete, 1943’s Heaven Can Wait is a majestic technicolor affair from acclaimed director Ernst Lubitsch (Ninotchka, A Royal Scandal). In the film, Don Ameche shines as newly deceased womanizer Henry Van Cleve. Convinced that his playboy ways have earned him eternal suffering, he reviews his life’s misdeeds in Hell’s waiting area with “His Excellency” (a scenery-chewing Laird Cregar)…and slowly discovers that he may not be as bad of a guy has he believes himself to be. Gene Tierney also stars as Henry’s wife, Martha; with Charles Coburn and Marjorie Main.
Next month, the Criterion Collection will release a lavish special edition of the film that includes the following special features:
– New 4K digital restoration by Twentieth Century Fox and the Academy Film Archive in collaboration with The Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack (Blu-ray); restored high-definition digital transfer (DVD).
– Conversation from 2005 between film critics Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris.
– Episode from 1982 of Creativity with Bill Moyers exploring screenwriter Samson Raphaelson’s life and career.
– Audio seminar with Raphaelson and film critic Richard Corliss recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in 1977.
– Home recordings of director Ernst Lubitsch playing the piano.
– Theatrical trailer.
– An essay by film scholar William Paul.
You’re stuck in movie purgatory if you have never experienced this pioneering romantic comedy, so be sure to rectify that when Heaven Can Wait is released on August 21st.