A few words about…™ Heaven Can Wait (1943) — in Blu-ray

Short of screening an original print, this is as close to the film as one might get 4 Stars

When discussing any Fox Technicolor film from the nitrate era, expectations are to lowered – measurably.

Extant film elements allow the films to appear never as they did, but rather, anywhere from impermissible to nice, while never able to hit anywhere near perfection.

Ernst Lubitsch’s 1943 Heaven Can Wait is fortunately one of those productions that hits the high side of the spectrum, which is fortunate, as it’s one of the studio’s most important three-strip productions.

It arrives via The Criterion Collection.

Don Ameche is one of his best roles, along with the incomparable Gene Tierney, lead a stellar cast of Fox contract players, in a production that stands the test of time – in spades.

Screenplay by Samson Raphelson.

Score by Alfred Newman.

Photographed by Edward Cronjager.

Short of screening an original print, this is as close to the film as one might get, and while it’s not close enough, it allows viewers to see through the haze of poor elements, and get a very decent idea of what once was a magnificent Technicolor production.

Thanks to Fox, The Academy and The Film Foundation for their labor and support in bringing Heaven Can Wait back to a far more than acceptable standard.

Image – 3.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Kevin Collins

administrator

25 Comments

  1. I am grateful that Fox is able to inch closer to their Technicolor glory in Blu-ray transfers like this, My Gal Sal, Blood and Sand, Leave Her to Heaven, but I guess I can never quite forgive them for being SO shortsighted.

  2. Matt Hough

    I am grateful that Fox is able to inch closer to their Technicolor glory in Blu-ray transfers like this, My Gal Sal, Blood and Sand, Leave Her to Heaven, but I guess I can never quite forgive them for being SO shortsighted.

    None of the "them" have been with the company for decades.

  3. This is one of my favorite films. So glad to hear it's on the high side of acceptable. The DVD was difficult to watch, although the performances are so knowing and charming, that one did get pulled in. Apparently, this was D.W. Griffith's favorite color film.

  4. lark144

    This is one of my favorite films. So glad to hear it's on the high side of acceptable. The DVD was difficult to watch, although the performances are so knowing and charming, that one did get pulled in. Apparently, this was D.W. Griffith's favorite color film.

    I'm sure you saw the 35mm nitrate Tech print shown at MoMA. Now THAT was an unforgettable experience.

  5. Well since this has Don Ameche, onto my shopping list this goes as a blind buy. Hoping Don works some of his schlock from The Bickersons radio show into this film.

    A little surprised to learn that the 1978 Warren Beatty Heaven Can Wait film is not a remake (except in name only) of this film.

    The 1978 movie is however, a remake of the 1941 classic Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Both films have my interest.

  6. Gene Tierney lived in a fancy apartment complex in Houston (on Willowick), and I always heard from people that you could drop off a portrait photo from a film of hers at the desk in the lobby, and come back a few days later, and she would have signed it for you. Thought about doing that several times, when I was in town and driving by that place. But I never did. Now all these years have gone by, and I rather wish I'd taken the time to do so.

  7. warnerbro

    Has there ever been anyone more beautiful that Gene Tierney? And seeing her at her zenith in Technicolor is worth the purchase.

    "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Much quoted and eternally true. She may be the most beautiful woman to you, but not so to many others whose tastes are different.

  8. I finally watched this Criterion release this morning and I know that RAH is normally more critical than us with his grades, but I've never seen a print of this film so I'm giving the video presentation of this Blu-ray a 4.5 as it's the best home video presentation that I ever saw of it. I know it's not close to being what it could have been if Fox had maintained its original film elements, but I thought the BD looked beautiful based on my ignorant knowledge of what I saw this morning.

  9. I watched this one this afternoon. As Robert said, it's not the three-strip Technicolor fantasia that we'd all like, but for me this comes the closest to looking like real Technicolor of any of the attempts I've seen of the Fox 1940s movies. And I keep hoping that if it's possible to do this kind of work with those Eastmancolor elements, could they get Wilson looking wonderful again (the Fox DVD-R is a horrific pale muddle)?

  10. Matt Hough

    I watched this one this afternoon. As Robert said, it's not the three-strip Technicolor fantasia that we'd all like, but for me this comes the closest to looking like real Technicolor of any of the attempts I've seen of the Fox 1940s movies. And I keep hoping that if it's possible to do this kind of work with those Eastmancolor elements, could they get Wilson looking wonderful again (the Fox DVD-R is a horrific pale muddle)?

    Yes, I bought this during the Criterion sale. It's not bad. It doesn't have the Renoir-like pastel wonderment of the nitrate I saw at MOMA in the 70's, but it does give a fairly accurate rendering of what the colors looked like. You get a very definite sense of what Lubitsch was aiming at, and how each character had a specific color like a musical theme that followed them through the film, and developed as the character went through transformations. Also, how Lubitsch tried to develop emotional spaces in terms of complimentary colors in the rooms where the film is set, and how those colors play off costumes and also set a tone for the scene in general. It's something I will be watching again.

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