I recall enjoying this film immensely when I first saw it way back in the summer of 1990. That was when I forced myself to watch a classic film every night for the whole summer.
I don’t recall buying the Criterion Collection DVD of Heaven Can Wait. It must have been on sale. Watching it again, I cannot say what I found so appealing. Ernest Lubitsch is said to have a ‘touch’, a certain knack for sophisticated, romantic comedies. Heaven Can Wait is certainly of this pedigree, but it is also one of his latter pictures and the magic does not have the charm of earlier works. While its central hero pleads that for a room in hell, one he feels he deserves from his playboy past, it is hard to imagine by today’s standards how Henry van Cleve could even be considered for eternal damnation.
Of laughs, there are plenty, though they are innocent and dated. What struck me as being most hilarious was something of sheer coincidence or perhaps a hint of subconscious memory surfacing. In Heaven Can Wait a running joke involves a family business and its mascot, Mabel the Cow. When I named our new dog – one that is gray and white and spotted like a Holstein cow – Mabel, I had completely forgotten that this was the name of the cow in Heaven Can Wait.