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Heaven Can Wait (1978)

When the Heavenly Authorities decide that Joe Pendleton’s life as a pro football quarterback for the LA Rams was ended prematurely he finds himself sent back to Earth – but reincarnated as a millionaire with a murderous wife more dangerous than any football tackle he had endured in his previous life.

Warren Beatty co-directs and stars as the football player accidentally selected to die after a car accident.

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Realising he has been called before his time, Joe bargains with celestial middle manager “Mr Jordan” (James Mason) and gets the chance to live again but in someone else’s body – since his has already been cremated.

Joe is sent back to Earth as Leo Farnsworth, a ruthless, super-rich industrialist and uses his new body’s resources to buy the Rams so he can still play for the team.

The delightful storyline also involves Joe’s beloved coach, Max (Jack Warden), Farnsworth’s conniving wife, Julia (Dyan Cannon) and assistant (Charles Grodin), and the beautiful activist Betty Logan (Julie Christie), who is campaigning against Farnsworth’s ecologically damaging business practices.

Beatty’s undeniable charm was a perfect fit for this gentle, witty update of Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941), and Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin are a scream.

The film became a massive hit, landing at #5 on the list of the year’s top-grossing films at the US box office and earning a slew of Oscar nominations.

Joe Pendleton/Leo Farnsworth
Warren Beatty
Betty Logan
Julie Christie
Mr Jordan
James Mason
Max Corkle
Jack Warden
Tony Abbott
Charles Grodin
Julia Farnsworth
Dyan Cannon
Escort
Buck Henry
Krim
Vincent Gardenia
Sisk
Joseph Maher
Bentley
Hamilton Camp
Everett
Arthur Malet
Corinne
Stephanie Faracy
Lavinia
Jeannie Linero
Gardener
Harry D K Wong
Peters
Larry Block
Conway
Frank Campanella
Tomarken
Bill Sorrells
Haitian ambassador
Joseph K Makel
Oppenheim
Keene Curtis
Renfield
William Larsen
Middleton
Morgan Farley
Lawson
William Bogert

Director
Warren Beatty
Buck Henry