Heaven Can Wait
Opting for light entertainment after the critical satire of Shampoo (1975), producer-director-writer-star Warren Beatty remade the 1941 comic fantasy Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Dimly amiable L.A. Rams quarterback Joe Pendleton (Beatty) is prematurely called to Heaven by an over-eager escort (Buck Henry, who co-directed) after a traffic accident. When archangel Mr. Jordan (James Mason) discovers the error, he offers to return Joe to his body, only to find that it has been cremated. On the verge of playing in the Super Bowl, Joe demands a fit body rather than the old about-to-be-murdered industrialist Farnsworth he has been offered, but he reconsiders when he sees environmentalist Betty Logan (Julie Christie) in Farnsworth's house. Assuming Farnsworth's body while keeping his sweet self, Joe hires his beloved coach Max Corkle (Jack Warden) to get him in shape (after convincing Max who he really is), sets Farnsworth's business on an eco-friendly path, and romances Betty. Farnsworth's homicidal wife (Dyan Cannon) and secretary (Charles Grodin), however, are still determined to succeed in their plan to kill him. When Mr. Jordan finally finds the Super Bowl body Joe wanted, Joe has to trade his old self for the new life -- but will he remember his love for Betty? Heaven Can Wait offered contemporary yet old-fashioned escapism and tapped into the late-1970s vogue for nostalgic fun, becoming one of 1978's most popular summer movies after Grease. Updating the original while following its blueprint, Beatty and co-writer Elaine May switched Joe's sport and turned Joe into a man of his '70s moment, adoring Betty for her convictions and favoring "green" policies over corporate greed. Gently breathing life into a classic form, Heaven Can Wait found romantic innocence in a jaded time, and it went on to receive nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.