Deceased playboy Henry Van Cleve presents himself to the outer offices of Hades, where he asks a bemused Satan for permission to enter the gates of hell. Henry proceeds to recount a lifetime of wooing and pursuing women, his long, happy marriage to Martha notwithstanding.
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DCP, re-rating. Being one of my favorite filmmakers of all time and having already enjoyed this film a lot, this review has led me to realize that in this more affectionate way with a fiction mostly romanticized - with a somewhat moralistic perspective - the Lubitsch of the great ironic lucid movies attenuates his formal verve to a sweet-bitter review of life, with his usual brilliant ellipses and great technicolor.
Heaven Can Wait is a frank, dryly satirical, and uniquely charming film from one of the great masters of early American cinema, Ernst Lubitsch...
What makes Heaven Can Wait different from other films from the classical period is Lubitsch’s charming nature...
There’s a certain kindness about the world that is captured on screen; it is all quite familiar and friendly and makes one feel good about the world.
Being my first Lubitsch film, I was overtaken by the overwhelming charm of the script, the acting, the set design and the direction.
The man certainly has his touch. I'm also a notorious devout follower of the tales of refined casanovas. The story book fashion of the story is sugary sweet and that's enough for me.
Lubitsch's profound use of ellipsis really is like grasping at the wind of life to catch only the most important bits. Still, I get the distinct impression that Lubitsch is looking back on his own life - and his distinct gender politics, marrying love and polygamy - and hoping Satan is just a heck of a nice fella. There is a very peculiar, dark melancholy there. And I truly hope that worked out for him, really.
"I'm not employed here. I'm not a book salesman. I took one look at you and followed you into the store. If you'd walked into a restaurant, I would have become a waiter. If you'd walked into a burning building, I would have become a fireman. If you'd walked into an elevator, I would have stopped it between two floors, and we'd have spent the rest of our lives there." Brilliant!
A truly beautiful film. It tells the story of an old man who is stuck in front of the gates of hell. He has to recount his life story so that the judge will decide whether the man goes down to hell or goes up to heaven. A magnificent use of Technicolor which makes it worth watching just for this. 3.5 stars.