Heaven Can Wait (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount continues to lovingly and impressively dig into their back catalog, improving upon previous releases and finally getting around to some titles missing from the Blu-ray format. On November 30th, they are doing both ends of the spectrum with a pair of Warren Beatty films; 1978’s Heaven Can Wait and 1981’s epic Reds. Both of them having brand new 4K transfers. Heaven Can Wait was Beatty’s directorial debut (Sharing credit with Buck Henry) and a remake of a 1941 screwball comedy classic. The film garnered 9 Oscar nominations, yielding 1 win, during the year Deer Hunter was the favorite. Paramount isn’t really doing much else as aside from the transfer and lossless mono track, only a digital code is provided. However, the price point is pretty fair, especially for a day 1 release. You can order yourself a copy using the paid Amazon Associates link below.



Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty), quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, is killed in an auto accident. In the afterlife, Joe discovers that his guardian angel (Buck Henry) has taken him from his body prematurely, and he is due many more years on earth. Unable to return to his body, Joe assumes the form of greedy multimillionaire industrialist Leo Farnsworth. As Farnsworth, Joe attempts a return to football and falls in love with environmental activist Betty Logan (Julie Christie).

Heaven Can Wait is itself now a bit of a throw back at the the young age of 43. But at the time of release, it was heralded as a throwback film, akin to a whole different era of cinema. The film itself was a remake of a film 37 years prior called Here Comes Mr. Jordan (And after would be remade again 23 years later as the Chris Rock starring Down To Earth). Being as such, it retains a sort of sense of structure and vibe as one of those screwball films of the 1940s would play, while only having the modern setting, people and styles as set dressing. It does this thing so well, its possible it could throw off a modern audience that has no idea its or remake or what the film is attempting. And considering the film is a bit of director driven piece or 1970s cinema, its fluffiness probably can come as a surprise.

The cast and characters of the film feel so precisely written and played to make this thing tick. Every person is a bit of a moving part that helps turn gears and make the plot work at opportune times. And luckily, its fully of people that understand their place and know what it takes to make the film work at its best. While this is very much Beatty’s film, he has no problem letting Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin run loose as goofballs stealing scenes and having a ball. And Jack Warden becomes the most warm and loveable person in the film. There’s good chemistry between all these parts and Beatty impressively knows how to keep true to character, but also change on the dime depending on the company he’s keeping as he’s got three scenarios of people to have relationships with at any given moment in the film.

Warren Beatty and Buck Henry cobble together a quite silly and fun story aiming to have you laughing, cheering and ultimately feeling a hair bittersweet about it all in the end. Its a sweeping screwball comedy done in a fashion akin to what a Chinatown does for a film noir in the 70s. Heaven Can Wait yields some strong visuals, too, in a very low key way. But impressive nonetheless. Everybody here in the film came to play big time and the results yield quite strongly positive. Back in the days of DVD, this used to be packaged as a double feature along with Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life and that makes all too much sense. While I’m not sure it still holds as strong as that one, 43 years later Heaven Can Wait still connects rather well.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Heaven Can Wait’s Blu-ray debut features a 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative approved by Warren Beatty. Though the aspect ration is 1.78:1 instead of 1.85:1, it still looks quite lovely. It has a good filmic appearance to it, with a nice slight layer of grain. Details, textures and color saturation all run strong in this highly satisfying appearance.

Depth:  The film’s transfer has a rather impressive depth of field on display. Be it outdoors or inside, particularly the Farsnworth mansion interiors and exteriors, there are lots of camera movements and shots that emphasize scale and showcase the separation and distances between objects and backgrounds. Character movements are cinematic and smooth with no issues regarding and sort of motion blur or jitter distortion.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich, almost natural. Grain is a little more apparent in the darker areas. No issues occur with any information consumed by darkness. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty bold and come on strong with many shades and tints well saturated in this image. Greens, blues, reds, browns and pretty much the gamut of regular/normal/rustic colors are plenty bold an full looking in the frame.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are easily discernible from most any reasonable given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono Dolby TrueHD, German 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Spanish (Castilian), French, Japanese

Dynamics: Heaven Can Wait accompanies its video with a rather solid mono track from the original theatrical mix. The track is sort of light on the low end sounds, making it not so much an impacting view. However, its well balanced and has a volume playfulness that keeps things decently active and attractive to your ears while viewing.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and have a nice slight analog hiss base underneath.


Heaven Can Wait comes with a redeemable digital code.


Heaven Can Wait is a sweet, earnest affair that garnered loads of esteemed accolades upon release that may surprise many looking back. Paramount brings it to Blu-ray with a terrific transfer, keeping its filmic look while bringing good detail and clarity. The audio track is above average and does the trick. Unfortunately, extras here are scarce and there is nary a commentary or even a trailer to enhance the viewing after the credits roll.  At a nice discounted price, the film alone is worth the pick up to add to your collection.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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