Thursday, 4 September 2008

"Heaven Can Wait". A Review Of The 1942 Original Film Now On One Of 20th Century Fox's "Studio Classics" DVD Reissues.





This is part of 20th Century Fox's "Studio Classics" series (Number 79 in a series of over 130 titles) and unlike so many films with the word classic on the front of their boxes - this actually is a 'classic' - and worth owning. Directed by the witty Ernst Lubitsch, it was Nominated for Best Movie and Best Director in 1943 and was a technological marvel for its time.

First thing you notice is the gorgeous Technicolour Print which has to have been restored to look this good. Then the actors - a very young Don Ameche as the feckless, naive and essentially harmless rich boy - Henry Van Cleve - a man who physically shrinks into his immaculate tuxedo at the mere sound of the "w" word - work! Ameche is probably most famous for the Cocoon movies as an old man - he had a face you didn't forget and instantly warmed to - young or old. His family has the doting mum, stiff-upper-lip father (equally as useless as his son) and the grouchy old grandfather who provides very funny ballsy lines when they fuss over junior. Throw into the mix the beautiful Gene Tierney; Henry sees her once on a phonecall, falls in love, only to find that she is engaged to Henry's brother (the worst fop of all). All of this is told in flashback.

Ameche arrives on screen descending a stairs into a beautiful and huge office where a dapper Satan sits behind his desk taking notes on souls (a wonderfully suave Laird Cregar). Ameche explains that he's been a terrible man up above and has led an appaling life (both assessments are of course nonsense) and that he is unsurpised that he's arrived in Hell. Satan asks for his story - just to be sure - which proves the opposite - that Henry's innocent and has always had a deep love for Tierney - you can guess the celestial rest.

This is a wonderful movie - soppy in places - coy even by today's standards - but at £4 or so - well worth a look in.

From this I suggest you make a beeline to "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir" to see just how extraordinarily beautiful Gene Tierney truly was - and what a screen presence.

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