Heaven Can Wait (1978)



Critic Consensus: A throwback to the high-gloss screwball comedies of the 1940s, Heaven Can Wait beguiles with seamless production values and great comic relief from Charles Grodin and Dianne Cannon.

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Movie Info

In this film, Warren Beatty plays pro-football-player Joe Pendleton, who is whisked to Heaven before his due date by over-eager celestial escort Buck Henry. The erudite Mr. Jordan arranges for Joe to enter the mortal coil of a cold-hearted businessman named Farnsworth, who has just been murdered by his wife.
Comedy , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Romance , Sports & Fitness
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Home Video

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Warren Beatty
as Joe Pendleton
Julie Christie
as Betty Logan
James Mason
as Mr. Jordan
Jack Warden
as Max Corkle
Dyan Cannon
as Julia Farnsworth
Charles Grodin
as Tony Abbott
Buck Henry
as The Escort
Vincent Gardenia
as Lt. Krim
Hamilton Camp
as Bentley
Arthur Malet
as Everett
Jeannie Linero
as Lavinia
Harry D.K. Wong
as Gardener
George J. Manos
as Security Guard
Larry Block
as Peters
Bill Sorrells
as Tomarken
Dick Enberg
as TV Interviewer
Dolph Sweet
as Head Coach
R.G. Armstrong
as General Manager
Ed Peck
as Trainer
John Randolph
as Former Owner
Richard O'Brien
as Former Owner's Adviser
Joseph F. Makel
as Haitian Ambassador
Will Hare
as Team Doctor
Lee Weaver
as Way Station Attendant
Roger Bowen
as Newspaperman
Keene Curtis
as Oppenheim
William Larsen
as Renfield
Morgan Farley
as Middleton
Robert E. Leonard
as Board Member
Joel Marston
as Board Member
Earl Montgomery Jr.
as Board Member
Robert C. Stevens
as Board Member
Bennie Massa
as Coliseum Security Guard
Peter Tomarken
as Reporter
William Sylvester
as Nuclear Reporter
Charlie Charles
as High-Wire Performer
Nick Outin
as Chauffeur
Jerry Scanlan
as Hodges
Jim Boeke
as Kowalsky
Marvin Fleming
as Gudnitz
Deacon Jones
as Gorman
Jack T. Snow
as Cassidy
Charlie Cowan
as Football Player
Joe Corolla
as Football Player
Bryant Gumbel
as TV Sportscaster
Jim Healy
as TV Sportscaster
Curt Gowdy
as TV Commentator
Al DeRogatis
as TV Color Analyst
Elliott Reid
as Waiter
Byron Webster
as Waiter
Garrett Craig
as Swimmer
Paul D'Amato
as Swimmer's Friend
Robert Fortier
as Wealthy Man in Restaurant
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Critic Reviews for Heaven Can Wait

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (7)

This is a very sweet movie to watch, the pleasant cinematic equivalent of light summer reading.

Full Review… | August 30, 2016
Washington Post
Top Critic

[The film] has everything going for it: big laughs, populist politics, billowy sequences set in heaven, a murder plot, a climactic Super Bowl game, a supporting cast of choice comic actors, and best of all, a touching (but PG) romance.

Full Review… | January 24, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Heaven Can Wait is an outstanding film.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

It's certainly likable enough and was a big hit when it came out, but one could hardly call it an auspicious artistic debut -- a crafty commercial entertainment with a certain amount of intelligence is more like it.

Full Review… | March 21, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The film drags its feet uncertainly from beginning to end.

February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

There's nothing worse than a pushy narrative.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Heaven Can Wait


A consistently funny story concerning a backup quarterback (Warren Beatty) for the St. Louis Rams who finally gets his chance to start for the team before he is killed in a car accident. However, when he arrives at Heaven's gates he is told that he was killed by accident, and is instead given a new body of an older rich man where he is still determined to get his old job with the Rams back. While there are plenty of plot holes if you look at it closely, this movie aims to be a comedy and it accomplishes just that. Beatty's character is likeable and easy to root for and there are enough interesting characters and situations that arise that make this film worthwhile.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Does the story sound familiar? Yes, it's been played around with in many films, but this one is good too. The movie has a good cast, and is directed by Warren Beatty as well. This movie has good comedy, and it's enjoyable.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

I know this movie has been done umpteenth amount of times, but this one is good because of the cast. Warren Beatty is stellar as always and he has his old buddy Jack Warden and the beautiful Julie Christie at his side, so you forget the plot holes that you could drive a fleet of Mack trucks through. Felt the movie was a little rushed at certain points, but overall, very funny (especially Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon who have some of the best bits in the whole film). Liked it, but pales in comparison to other Beatty classics.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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