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Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason
Writing Credits:
Elaine May, Warren Beatty

Accidentally taken away from his body before he was meant to die, NFL quarterback Joe Pendleton returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 1.0
French Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 1.0
German Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $17.99
Release Date: 11/30/2021

• None


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Heaven Can Wait [Blu-Ray] (1978)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 21, 2021)

1978’s Heaven Can Wait became one of the year’s biggest hits. It brings us a remake of 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) plays quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. This takes a turn when he dies in a traffic accident.

However, it turns out his soul shouldn’t have been “taken” so soon, so he convinces “heavenly way station” man-in-charge Mr. Jordan (James Mason) to give him another shot on Earth. Because Joe’s corpse has already been cremated, he winds up in the body of millionaire industrialist Leo Farnsworth, a recently-deceased man, and this sends him on a series of adventures.

Because Jordan already offered a high-quality movie, Wait lacked much room to improve on its predecessor. This means that while the remake doesn’t turn into anything remarkable, it brings a likeable mix of comedy and romance.

I never thought Beatty was a great actor, and Wait demonstrates his limitations, especially in terms of the role’s dramatic elements. However, he seems charming and engaging enough to carry the role.

Wait doesn’t ask much of Beatty other than to seem earnest and slightly eccentric. Beatty manages these aspects of the part just fine.

Wisely, Beatty surrounds himself with a top-notch supporting cast. In addition to Mason, we find talents like Buck Henry, Charles Grodin, Julie Christie, Dyan Cannon and Jack Warden, among others.

With a roster like that, Beatty could totally flop and the movie would still work. I can’t claim any of the actors do any heavy lifting but they add verve to the proceedings.

Co-directed by Henry and Beatty – from a script by Beatty and Elaine May - Wait - manages just enough quirkiness to work. It stays sincere much of the time, but it veers into a little bit of appropriate wackiness for comedic flavor.

43 years after its release, Heaven Can Wait holds up well. Nothing about it screams “classic” but the film still offers an entertaining comedy/fantasy.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus F

Heaven Can Wait appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an appealing presentation.

Sharpness usually worked fine. A little softness crept into the image at times, but the majority of the flick seemed well-defined and accurate.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects cropped up, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. With natural grain, I didn’t suspect overdone noise reduction, and the movie lacked print flaws.

The film opted for a natural palette that could lean a little brown at times. The hues seemed appropriately rendered given the photographic choices involved.

Blacks looked deep and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. I felt pleased with this fine transfer.

Though superior, the film’s Dolby TrueHD monaural soundtrack lacked much pizzazz. Speech felt perfectly intelligible and lacked edginess, though the lines could seem a bit flat.

Music lacked much range but the score seemed acceptably reproduced. Given the movie’s character orientation, effects didn’t get much to do, but they remained moderately accurate and free from distortion. This became a wholly adequate soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 1999? The lossless audio felt a smidgen warmer and more accurate, but the nature of the 43-year-old track left it without a lot of room for improvement.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray’s visuals demonstrated a major upgrade. The DVD offered a messy, ugly affair, so the Blu-ray improved on it in every conceivable manner. This delivered a massive step up in picture quality.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray comes with no extras – not even the trailer that appeared on the DVD.

As a remake of a classic, Heaven Can Wait reinvents no wheels. Nonetheless, it creates a charming, warm mix of fantasy, comedy and romance. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, acceptable audio and no bonus features. The absence of supplements disappoints, but the Blu-ray presents the movie in top-notch form.

To rate this film visit the original review of HEAVEN CAN WAIT

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