Ralph Potts puts the Spotlight on Heaven Can Wait, star/co-director/co-writer Warren Beatty’s 1978 romantic comedy, nominated for nine Academy Awards, which is making its Blu-ray debut from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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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).

My Thoughts:

I was introduced to Heaven Can Wait when it aired on cable television and was instantly a fan. I am a person of faith and a romantic at heart and, found its story to be entertaining. It has been a long time since I have seen it. Sitting down with Heaven Can Wait was lots of fun as was reminded of what an engaging, and lighthearted movie it is. Warren Beatty was on top of his game and Julie Christie is not only lovely but, does a wonderful job opposite him.

The supporting cast features Jack Warden, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon, Vincent Gardenia, Buck Henry, James Mason, Dolph Sweet and, a host of familiar faces that add a defining element to the proceeding. The script and direction offer a nice balance of comedy, drama, and romance that never feels overstated. This was my wife’s first time seeing it and her reaction was favorable although, she couldn’t help but wonder aloud what the “Farnsworth” everyone else was seeing in the story, looked like.

This Blu-ray Disc release gives fans a great opportunity to experience this film all over again and, for me, it was a nostalgic revisit that was time well spent.

Release Date: November 30, 2021

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

According to the press documentation I received, Heaven Can Wait was fully restored and remastered from the original camera negative under Warren Beatty’s supervision.

This is my first experience with this film on home video. Colors are vividly reproduced with subtle tonal variation and clean rendering. The range of colors is not particularly extensive but, the earth tones which are its primary source look great. Facial textures and complexions are nicely delineated with warmth and lifelike tonality. Images are well detailed over the course of the film. This isn’t going to exhibit the type of razor-sharp high gloss definition that we see from digitally sourced films however, the level of detail is complimentary. There are minor fluctuations in sharpness and detail that appear related to the original photography. Film grain is intact, and appears well preserved throughout the presentation. Blacks are stable with consistent contrast levels that draw out plenty of visible detail during light and dark segments. I found little to complain about and thoroughly enjoyed this high-definition rendering.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack is a one-dimensional affair. With a dialogue driven film such as this good vocal reproduction is essential. I was impressed with the quality of what I heard as the higher resolution rendered the sounds and voices with defining detail, notable separation, and open expression which provided excellent intelligibility and smooth tonal character. While this soundtrack is clearly dated, I never found myself wanting more and thought it sounded quite natural.

Final Thoughts:

Directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry, with a screenplay by Elaine May and Beatty, Heaven Can Wait which was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Beatty and Henry), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Beatty and May), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Beatty), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Warden), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Cannon), and more, is an entertaining romantic comedy/drama that easily withstands the tests of time. Oddly enough, it is a film that is rarely discussed among memorable genre entries but, it’s one that I have always enjoyed and highly recommend in this new Blu-ray release from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems