LIFE AFTER DEATH SERIES I: HEAVEN CAN WAIT
Film Appreciation Series
Next up in our Film Appreciation sessions, we will tackle Life After Death in two series. The first series will feature films from the Golden Age of the Hollywood—including one from post-war England—where the topic of the supernatural also provides romance. But what romance? Stylish, subtle, elegant, charming, genuine wit with unforgettable dialogue and original, memorable and unique stories.
Participants must purchase the entire Film Appreciation Series
February 3 – Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Released 8/7/41) directed by Alexander Hall, 94 minutes. Robert Montgomery plays Joe Pendleton, who is taken before his time is up by an over-eager, inexperienced angel and then has to negotiate his return to life with Mr. Jordan, played by the versatile character actor, Claude Rains. This is Classic Hollywood at its best: nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Actor, and won two Oscars for Best Story and Best Screenplay. It also spawned a sequel, Down To Earth in 1947 with Rita Hayworth, and two remakes: Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty in 1978 and Down to Earth with Chris Rock in 2001.
February 10 – Heaven Can Wait (Released 8/11/43) directed by Ernst Lubitsch, 112 minutes. When an urbane playboy dies, he presents himself to Satan at the outer offices of Hades because he’s positive that he belongs in Hell. But the devil himself is not so sure he belongs, and a detailed interview commences. Don Ameche and Gene Tierney star in this comedic gem from one of the best comedy directors of all time. This is not the film that 1978’s Heaven Can Wait is based upon! For this movie Lubitsch was nominated a third time for Best Director; he never won an Oscar, but received an honorary Oscar for his distinguished contributions to the art of the motion picture in 1947 before he died of a heart attack later that year,
February 17 – A Guy Named Joe (Released 12/23/43) directed by Victor Flemming, 122 minutes. Spencer Tracy is a reckless pilot who dies in action and then must be a guardian angel to Van Johnson, a pilot in training. The incomparable Irene Dunne plays the woman in the middle, and the supporting cast includes Ward Bond, James Gleason and Lionel Barrymore. A top notch cast, terrific dialogue from an Oscar nominated script from Dalton Trumbo, and the selfless story helped make this movie one of Steven Spielberg’s favorites which he remade as Always in 1989.
March 2 – Between Two Worlds (Released 5/20/44) directed by Edward A Blatt, 112 minutes. As the bombs rain down on London, a group of passengers find themselves on a luxury liner headed for an unknown destination. This film is based on the 1923 play Outward Bound, written by Sutton Vane, and a 1930 film of the same name starring Leslie Howard. Warner Brothers reworked it in a wartime setting and hired an amazing cast including Paul Henried, Eleanor Parker, John Garfield and Sydney Greenstreet.
March 9 – A Matter of Life and Death (Released 11/1/46 in the UK, and 12/25/46 in the US under the title Stairway to Heaven) directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 104 minutes. An RAF pilot cheats death because of the English Fog and must argue for his life in celestial court, hoping to prolong his romance with an American girl. It’s one of the most beloved British films of all time and a favorite of American director Martin Scorsese. Imaginatively staged with beautiful sets, it’s almost the opposite situation from our first film in this series, so it’s fun to get another take on the afterlife.
March 16 – The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Released 6/26/47) directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, 104 minutes. A lonely widow refuses to be frightened by the ghost of an ornery sea captain in her newly rented cottage. This is an exquisite love story spanning life and death starring Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney and George Sanders and directed with nuance exploring a depth of emotion that is surprising in a Hollywood studio production.