Heaven Can Wait (1943)
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I get tired of old Hollywood movies about male scoundrels redeemed by the love of a good women when there are so few where a female scoundrel is redeemed by the love of a good man. This would have been better off keeping the cynical tone of its beginning--something like Divorce: Italian Style.
Divorce Italian style is much funnier.. But I like this traditional and baroque aurea of Ernst Lubitsch movies. It's a cliche story but much better than in most Hollywood movies.
It seems comical to think now that a man considers himself fit for hell for spending his life lusting after beautiful women... how far we've fallen since 1943... but Henry Van Cleve is never so bad, thanks to Don Ameche's charming performance. The hell's waiting room bookends are delightful and first hour is pacey but the latter half of the movie begins to drag as Henry becomes older and better behaved, the roster of excellent supporting characters gradually die off, and the witty script gives way to a sentimental earnestness. It was fun to discover that Henry and I share a birthday though.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #136 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #222 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #313 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #482 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown