Heaven Can Wait: This Is Your Life, The Hell Edition

This next film is called Heaven Can Wait.  It's an Ernst Lubitsch film from 1943, starring Don Ameche as a deceased playboy.

The basic premise of this film is an old man at the gates of hell, telling his life's story to the gatekeeper.  He was a rich man, who was thoroughly overindulged by his parents since infancy.  Even when he was a little kid, he was a reckless flirt.  As he grew up, he became a total player, with absolutely nothing to do besides shirk his responsibilities.

At 26, he fell in love with his straight-laced cousin Albert's fiancee Martha, and they eloped.  She was a genuinely good person, and she had a hand in curbing some of his more adolescent tendencies (although he definitely cheated on her on more than one occasion).  They had a son named Jack, and although Martha left him once briefly after discovering one of his indiscretions, they seemed to have a generally happy marriage.

This guy's obviously not perfect.  But does he really belong in hell?

Random Musings:

  • I am in love with the idea that Hell is one giant bureaucracy, because that is actually exactly how I envision Hell.  That, plus a bunch of fourth grade girls in braids playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons on recorders, while I am forced to watch Jersey Shore for all eternity.

  • Henry says of his straight-laced cousin Albert, "Nor did he ever put a mouse into his teacher's bustle."  Wow, what a prissy little bitch.  How dare he never abuse a harmless little animal.

  • I love that Martha goes to the bookstore to buy a naughty book about how to make her husband happy.  The way she was getting all embarrassed about the book, I was half expecting it to be the Kama Sutra or Joy of Sex or something.

  • Young Don Ameche sort of reminds me of Ben Mackenzie.  Also, how weird is it seeing Mortimer Duke from Trading Places forty years ahead of time, when Don is in his old man makeup?

"Insert Racist Comment" - Mortimer Duke

  • Speaking of the aging makeup, they did a really good job with it in this film.  Don Ameche was about 35 when he made this, but he's believable from his mid-20s well into his old age.

  • Poor Albert.  Even boring people deserve happiness, and it's not his fault she accepted his proposal for the wrong reasons.  But seriously, Albert?  We do not shoo our fiancees for sneezing.

  • I love Grandpa.  If I could have a third grandfather, I'd want him to be it.

  • Is she seriously saying that she's glad he got fat because then he wouldn't be able to attract other women and she wouldn't feel threatened anymore?  OK...I really think this relationship could do with a little bit less honesty.

This movie is Don Ameche's baby from start to finish.  There's really nothing at else going on besides him going through his life, and the movie doesn't really make it a priority to develop most of the other characters beyond paper-thin prototypes.  So how does it work?

Simple.  Don Ameche is a movie star.

When you've got someone who's this intensely watchable, it really doesn't matter if he's the only thing happening in the film.  I'm interested in his character and everything he does, good or bad.  Yeah, it would have been nice if there was a little bit more dramatic tension, but overall I'm satisfied with my viewing experience, and at the end of the day, that's all you can really ask for.

Thanks for reading, and come back next time!

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wendy said...

Okay, now I need to see this! I admit to having loved the Warren Beatty remake, but I adore Don Ameche and can't wait to watch him as a young actor. (And I'm right there with you about recorders and Jersey Shore.) *shudder/vomit*

John said...

This is a very beautiful and interesting article
The most glamorous one i have read today!

GED Online

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