Let's Talk - Movies

Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Review

March 07, 2022 Just Curious Media Episode 19
Let's Talk - Movies
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Review
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Show Notes Transcript

Let's Talk - Movies
Episode 19: Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Review

Jason Connell shares behind-the-scenes insight and his overall impressions of Heaven Can Wait and much more.

Synopsis: A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die, returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

Director: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Writer (Based On A Play By): Harry Segall
Writer (Screenplay): Elaine May, Warren Beatty
Cinematographer: William A. Fraker
Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Jack Warden, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon, Buck Henry

Original Episode: S01E19

Recorded: 03-05-22
Studio: Just Curious Media





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Jason Connell:

Welcome to Just curious media. This is let's talk movies. And I'm Jason Connell, on the show today I'm talking about heaven can wait the 1978 Classic. And the reason is I'm talking about this movie, which is a bit old is because I recently did an episode on American underdog which came out in 2021, which was the Kurt Warner story, who went on to play for the St. Louis Rams and win the Super Bowl and go to the Hall of Fame and all these things. And he started as a stalker in the grocery store. And he had this rags to riches story, which is famous and an incredible guy, incredible athlete and a great story. But that compound with the fact that the Los Angeles Rams recently beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 season Super Bowl, which just happened this February. And the fact that it was the rams and the rams and this movie haven't can wait is a football movie that has the Rams as well. It's true. It's crazy. So I thought, well, this is a good book and to my football segment of these few episodes. And of course this movie has Warren Beatty in it. And I also read a book of his a few years ago by Peter biskind Which is great star how Warren Beatty seduced America, I highly recommend it. As well as biscuits other books down and dirty pictures and easy writers raging bulls. Phenomenal. Old Hollywood so much fun. actually read that one twice, so please check that out. Now this movie haven't can wait came out in 1978. The synopsis for the movie is in Los Angeles Rams quarterback accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire. So a little far fetched. Sure, you have to just go with it. This movie is a lot of fun. I saw it as a kid and I always enjoyed it, and I rewatched it recently to see if it held up or how it would work. It works great. And that's why I'm back here promoting it. And again, it fits in with everything else. It was kind of the the year of the Rams, I guess. And I should also say, I'm not a Los Angeles fan. A Los Angeles Rams or St. Louis Rams fan. I'm just a pro football fan. And I really enjoyed these films. So directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry. It was written by Harry Segal actually he wrote a play it was based on the screenplay was written by Elaine May, and Warren Beatty. And the genre is comedy fantasy romance. You could probably throw sport in there too. I got this off IMDB. The ratings for this movie is 6.9 on IMDb. And 89% on Rotten Tomatoes holds up pretty well. It was released June 28 1978. And I know I first watched this on HBO with my parents, late 70s, early 80s. Somewhere in there loved it just couldn't watch it enough. The US and Canadian grows it has had to look this up at $1.6 million. That's a lot of money for a small little movie, I say small. But for this movie in that timeline, it was a bonafide hit. And there was an original movie, which it was based on called Here comes Mr. Jordan came out in 1941. And it starred Robert Montgomery. And he played the title character Joe Pendleton, same name in this movie, but he was a boxer, not a football player. So I never saw that movie spider really good. There was also a remake called down to earth. And 2001 Which actually saw in the theater, and it started Chris Rock, but he was Lance Barton and he was a comic, but very similar tones. I do remember seeing it. I didn't like it as much. But there's that. Now this cast again, Warren Beatty plays the lead Joe Pendleton. He's fantastic. As a backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams coming off injury real health not but had a knee injury and he's rehabbing and trying to go for the starting job. Now you may know Warren Beatty of course from movies like Bonnie and Clyde shampoo reds Bugsy, but I gotta give you this hit list of his Oscar nominated you know times. He's nearly won the Oscar more than he's won it but he has so many nods. It's unbelievable, so just bear with me here. Oscar nominated for Best Actor Best Picture. Bonnie and Clyde 1967 Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay for shampoo 1975 By the way, both those movies phenomenal love Bonnie and Clyde and shampoo is fantastic if you haven't seen that. Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture for heaven can wait 1978 Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Actor best director what you want so that's one win at all those nominations but Hey, it's still an honor. And best picture for Red's 1981. I have to admit it. I have not seen rights. I think with a political climate the way it is with Russia. I probably should see this movie. I think he's in Russia and he's a writer reporter, I should say so. I need to see it. So maybe come back and talk about it. Oscar nominated for Best Actor Best Picture for Bugsy 9091. Another great movie mob movie, beginning and start of Vegas. And then Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay for Bulworth. 1998. So you can kind of see that Warren Beatty is a triple threat, writer, actor, director and a producer, there's a quadruple threat, and rightfully so with all those Oscar nominations. And there's more. Then there's Julie Christie, she plays Betty Logan, She's the love interest and she's fantastic. She's mad at the millionaire's body, he takes over so mad at him by association. And there's a romance and that begins which is great. And she's fantastic. And she's in movies like Dr. Zhivago. And McCabe and Mrs. Miller, as well as well in her own right. She's a four time Oscar nominated actress. So Wow, amazing. James Mason recipes. He plays Mr. Jordan. He's kind of like the head guy up in heaven. We don't see a god or anything beyond that. But the overanxious Angel reports to him and James Mason has this real, just, I don't know this, the way he carries himself is a man in charge. He's well spoken. And he's looking after Joe's best interest when this mistake happens. But he's wonderful. He comes and goes throughout the film. But you may recognize him from movies like Lolita and the verdict, which is sitting in that movie, and I highly recommend that as well. And he is a three time Oscar nominated actor himself. So kudos This cast is you can tell, well established, this is a murderer's row of talent. Maybe it's why it was such a popular movie. Next we have Jack Warden, also rest in peace, but one of my favorite actors of his time, he plays Max corkle. And he is the Los Angeles Rams trainer. And him and Joe have this great relationship because Joe is trying to come back off injury and like he's closer to max than anyone else on the team. And he has lots of cool scenes, which we'll get into. And he's in movies like 12 Angry Men, which I just saw recently with Peter Fonda. So, so good. He's also in shampoo, with Warren Beatty, All the President's Men incredible death on the Nile. And I actually happen to see just a few days ago in the theater, the new version, the Kenneth Branagh version, which was good, but I do love this version that Jack Ward is in. And he's also in the verdict so crazy. I mean, this guy covers a huge span of movies, as well as use cars. I have to throw that in there. The Robert Zemeckis comedy, and he's a two time Oscar nominated actor himself. One of them for having can wait 1978 Next, we have Charles Groden. Rest in peace died last year. So sad. This guy was part of my childhood. He plays Tony Abbott, kind of a jerk. He's having an affair with Joe's wife. And we'll talk more about that. And he works for him kind of his number two guy, but he has other plants. He's part of the duo that murders him and why Joe got the bot in the first place. And he's in movies. He being Charles Groden Heartbreak Kid seems like old times midnight, Ron, oh, my gosh, man that runs so good. Also the Woman in Red King Kong, so many others. I never saw it but he was in the Beethoven movies as well. But apparently they're very popular. And next we have Diane cannon. She plays Julia Farnsworth. Now she is Joe's wife having the affair with Tony Abbott. And she's fantastic as well. And she's in movies like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and Arthur Arthur, which I really enjoyed with Al Pacino. And she is a two time Oscar nominated actors. And one of those for heaven can wait 1978 Next, we have Buck Henry, also rest in peace. And he plays the escort. So he's the overanxious angel that makes the mistake, and he's fantastic. And he's in movies like The player and shortcuts, two of my favorite Robert Altman films, and he not Oscar nominated for acting, but he's Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay for the graduate 1967 and Best Director shared with Warren Beatty for heaven can wait 1978 And there's more. The additional Oscar nominations were best cinematography, best music and Best Art Direction set direction which it actually won. So Oh, wow, I never knew all of this when I saw the movie. I just liked the movie. So I figured I had to share that. Now, we're not going to do a beat by beat breakdown. But I will go through the scenes kind of the quick beats, we're not going to have this long discussion by myself. But essentially, like I said earlier, Joe Pendleton is a backup quarterback coming off injury, he's riding his bike one day through a tunnel looks like Griffith Park. And the angel intervenes because two cars are coming through and he's on a bicycle and it's dark in there. This looks bad. Did you hear like a burr like there is an accident. But he didn't die. His quick reflexes been an athlete avoided it or would have avoided it, but he was pulled away and put up in heaven, that that it was gonna be dead. Turns out he was supposed to live until


17am on March 20 2025, which hasn't even happened yet. So he was gonna live a long life. But what happened is, by the time they found this out, the body had been cremated. So the team had to find him a new body. And he's an athlete, and all he cares about is getting back on the football field with the Rams, and make it a run to the Super Bowl and also becoming the starting quarterback. He can't just be in any job below. He has to be in someone either in shape or an athlete or someone he could work with to get in shape. And I see this movie now it's like that would have been huge news in the NFL. Right? I mean, the only time I can think of this in recent memory is when my beloved Washington Redskins, and who are recently now the Washington commanders. We lost Sean Taylor, to a tragic accident in the middle of the season. He had gone home to Miami, and was shot in his own home in the leg and bled to death by some people trying to rob them. And he was with his family tried to protect them. And it was tragic. Sean Taylor was an incredible player and person. And probably on his way to an incredible career. He already was, you know, leading our team. It was an incredible safety. But it was tragic. I mean, it shook the whole foundation of the NFL and our team and Joe Gibbs, our coach. And so yeah, this would have been big news. And he was a backup quarterback. But still, this doesn't happen that often in the NFL in the middle of the season. So Farnsworth is killed, he's drugged in his bath by his wife, and her lover. And so Joe accepts this challenge on a trial basis, I'll give this body a chance, I can still opt out, right? And they agree to this acquiesce to his demands, and Joe enters the body. So they drug him, no one's discovered the body yet. And they think they've killed him. And then he comes out and and they're just like, what, you know, Groden and Diane cannon, Tony and Julia. So it's pretty funny. And he just, you know, goes about town, and he's also a millionaire. So there's that that's not so bad. And he also has to kind of just take in this life, he's thinking, I gotta get in shape. And he's got these business dealings and then enter Betty and Betty shows up at his mansion, because she's mad at some of his business practices and some deals going down and he sees her and there's like a moment, I get, like, a twinge. And you can tell like, well, maybe I'll keep this body because there's something here with this girl. A little cute meet, and our mute, cute, whatever sounds good both ways. So now his wife and Tony are shocked because they thought they had asked him and he doesn't really care about their relationship, but they're like, well, we're not to sneak around anymore. So that's happening. And then Joe is off in business trying to get in football shape. So he recruits Max from the Rams because he's a millionaire. Hey, come over, I need you to come to the mansion, set me up with some weights. I gotta get in shape. And I don't know how this is that disbelief of this movie. But Max recognizes Joe inside Farnsworth, somehow. Now, I should also point out that Warren Beatty is always the guy. He's too much of a narcissist. I would say. He's Warren Beatty, and I can't blame him. So when you're these other people, it's just always Warren Beatty. So if it's Joe Warren Beatty, Farnsworth, Warren Beatty, and we'll get into who else he becomes. But Maxie something not Joe had just died. But he comes to the house sets him up with some weights and he's like wait a second. Maybe it's something he says and playing you know, an instrument but there's a reporter there and he picks up on it and which is kind of cool because they have that bond. And it gets him in shape. And he's working with the staff and don't pass us in the lawn. And by the way, this estate is gorgeous. And I'll give you the information on that at the end of this episode. I want to visit it myself. And it's really funny. He's just doing everything he can. And how's he gonna play for the ramps. How's this gonna? happen, this guy's just able to play for the Rams. No, he buys the Rams. So he can do a little tryout and show the coaches his skills because he's on the up and up he's the spot is good enough to make it a pro athlete. Well, teams don't come for sale that often. So there's that just because you want to buy I mean, Jeff Bezos can't even own a team right now he can't buy a team because no one's selling. But again, you got to go with it. He must have paid king's ransom to get the Rams from the owner. And they don't really get the specifics. There's no talk of numbers, by the way. Now Joe is in full shape. And him and Betty haven't had enough scenes, there's a lot of good scenes of Betty shows up at the house and she comes to the businesses and Joe doesn't care. He lets them into boardrooms with all the other people on his board. They're like, Hey, you're not supposed to let these people in. And he lets him in. And he's happy to do things more ethically now. And he's winning her heart, and he could care less about the business. It's lost on him, he has money. Now, it doesn't even matter. He is a football player. And he's interested in this person. By the way, this whole time he wants to get in the Superbowl. And again, that doesn't happen that often. But the Rams happen to be having a really good season despite losing their backup quarterback. And that's kind of going on in the background. And they're working towards that, which is again, very serendipitous for this movie. So every once a while there'd be like a cut to a screen. And you see Brian Gumbel of all people like sportscaster and it's crazy seeing him and back in the day. You know, they're kind of telling you like, yeah, the rams are getting better. And all sudden, they have made the Super Bowl, and they're going to be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. So Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers. More on that shortly. So everything's going great. What could go wrong? Well, Julia, and Tony strike again. And this time, they're successful. They don't drag him in a bath, they shoot him being Joe falls in a well, because he has a well on his property. And he's dead. And then that's when you see Mr. Jordan come back and say, Joe, it gets bad news. We need to get that new body. This body has been killed. And there's no resurrecting the body this time, which is weird. I guess I've never really thought about that before. Because the body was killed. He got the body. I guess if he stayed in the body, he would be dead. So essentially, that's that would happen. Since this is a trial basis. He can opt out. I mean, what a short life, week or two or maybe a month. So they're sitting around at the house, the Super Bowl is on. That's happening. Max happens to be there. And then he starts driving back to the Super Bowl. And then all the sudden, in the game itself, the starting quarterback Tom Jarrett, is killed. I know. Okay, it's a little too much. He's hit hard. He's rocked hard. And you hear it like on the radio. They're kind of cutting all over at the house, you're seeing Joe watch the game. And Max is driving back to the Super Bowl, and he's playing the radio. And Tom Jarrett is sacked or hit really hard and taken off in a structure. All the people that know he's dead is Mr. Jordan. And they say, Joe, this is your chance. This is your body. Well, Joe jumps at the chance because here's a pro athlete just happens to be playing for the Rams. And he can take over. And he does. And so Jarrett gets to the sidelines. No one knows he's dead. He's in a stretcher. And then he springs to life because Joe's entered his body. And he comes in and he leads the Rams to victory in overtime. And it's crazy. He's making plays and I'm sure the coaches are like, man, he looks a lot like John. No, that's Tom Jarrett, but he's really he's thrown the ball different now. It'd be one thing if he was like a southpaw. That would have been hilarious. But anyway, he throws us one pass, the receiver fumbles it and then Joe picks it up and scrambles like 50 yards for a touchdown. They went and over time rams when Joe gets his wish. And so basically, they get down there in the locker room and Max shows up and he recognizes something and Joe again. So this is the second time he's like, which is weird as well because I understand he saw for the first time because Joe dies and he meets his Farnsworth character. But this time, I don't know how he spotted it. But the difference being this, Joe's memory was wiped out. Unlike when he was Farnsworth it wasn't wiped out trial basis. He could come and go he knew everything he knew Mr. Jordan he knew the the escort. Now it's wiped out. He is now this guy Tom Jarrett. He doesn't even remember being Joe. He's always been Tom jet. So on Max looks at him and says Joe is at you in there. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He's like, What are you talking about? What are you talking about? We won the Super Bowl. So Max gives up on that. Betty arrives. Because before Joe left Farnsworth and jumped inside Jarrett, he was telling Betty like, in the future, someone comes up to maybe a football player. You know, maybe you know them and just kind of planted a little seed to look deeper at someone, maybe there's a connection. Well, she comes. And she's kind of driven. They're looking for Joe or, and discovers Jarrett to Warren Beatty. So Warren Beatty is now the third person this movie a it looks like Warren Beatty, but she looks and and there's a spark there. And essentially, love will find a way and they leave the locker room and they're gonna go have a cup of coffee and but we assume and know that they are meant to be together. So that is heaven can wait the fast beats. And yeah, a lot of fun. It holds up. I'm so glad I went and visited the movie again. But now here's some of the weird giants which I was blown away by. So the fictitious Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers rams win and overtime. In 1979. A year after this movie came out. The Rams played this dealer's in the Super Bowl. I remember watching that Super Bowl. Terry Bradshaw was still there. And the Steelers were still that dominant force. And so it's like, wow, so I was born in 71. So it was just a kid. But if I was a football fan, I'd be like, Wow, it's like heaven can wait. I'm sure there was so much talk that just I never even heard. However, big difference. The Rams actually lost that Super Bowl 3119. And it was at the Rose Bowl, which I used to live by the Rose Bowl. And that's fantastic. Love that. It was there. The actual Super Bowl. Now as far as the game goes to overtime in the movie, in the 2016 Super Bowl, the Patriots and Falcons went to overtime, the Patriots rallied from 28 to read down, tied it up going over time they went, that's the one and only Super Bowl it's ever gotten to overtime. So it was kind of neat that they also took it there. It took that many years later, to have what we've come close. We've come close had the Patriots missed their field goal against the Rams, when they were in St. Louis, it would have gone to overtime. And there's been a few of those like really close ones, but this is the only one. Now the footage for this fictitious Super Bowl was filmed at the halftime of the Rams chargers preseason game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 1 1977. And now years later, the Rams who left Los Angeles to go to St. Louis for that stent, the Kurt Warner years and many other years and became the greatest show on turf. They came back to Los Angeles the same year the Chargers came to town and they both share the SoFi stadium, although the Rams own it, and they lease it to the Chargers their time there. Are there like a tenant. Now I should also point out not to get too far in the weeds. The San Diego Chargers that's where they were. They actually started in Los Angeles their first year and then moved to San Diego for like 99% of their existence, less now. And all these weird things coincidences. Now the film has the Rams playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Also way ahead of their time heaven can wait. It never happened in the NFL. Never, never, never until the last two seasons, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl two years ago in their home stadium. And the Los Angeles Rams this year, one in their stadium. I talked to a friend recently he didn't know that he that was like baseball. And they just like oh, they don't just play in the home says no, it's never happened. It's weird. It finally happens that they plan and both teams win. So it's a good omen. Thanks to heaven can wait. And of course, as I already said the rams have never well, they never won the Super Bowl in LA before until recently and in heaven can wait because they only have one other title. And it was in St. Louis. So there's the football talk. And there is an actual Los Angeles Rams football player in the movie Deacon Jones, and he played Gorman bet part but I was like, I recognize him right away and there's probably a few more but I didn't know them. And like I promised the Farnsworth mansion is the Filoli historic house and garden in Woodside, California. I highly recommend going it is open for business. You can go there. You can do a tour I absolutely plan on doing so maybe I'll come back and do a special episode of Just The Farnsworth mansion. Because a lot of the movie happens there. At least on the grounds I don't know if the inside the interiors were there or if they were on studio or something, but it's gorgeous. And I also really liked the tagline of this movie, Joe Pendleton, the only guy who ever raised hell about going to Heaven pretty funny. So that's all I got. It was a fast beat break down behind the scenes but in the end, I highly recommend seeing this movie it holds up and if you haven't seen it, see it and if you haven't seen it a long time revisit it. It's also just the year the Rams I guess, and it came through. So without further ado, please enjoy having can wait. So thank you so much for listening and please be sure to subscribe to the let's talk movies podcast as well as the let's talk movies YouTube Live Channel. 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