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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris
  • Creativity with Bill Moyers: A Portrait of Samson Raphaelson (1982), a 30-minute program exploring the screenwriterís life and career
  • Audio seminar with Samson Raphaelson and film critic Richard Corliss recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in 1977
  • Lubitsch home piano recordings
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Insert featuring a new essay by film scholar William Paul

Heaven Can Wait

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch
1943 | 112 Minutes | Licensor: 20th Century Fox

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #291
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 21, 2018
Review Date: November 23, 2018

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SYNOPSIS

Deceased turn-of-the-century playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) presents himself to the outer offices of Hades, where he asks a bemused Satan for permission to enter through the gates of hell. Though the devil doubts that Henryís sins qualify him for eternal damnation, Henry proceeds to recount a lifetime of wooing and pursuing women, his long, happy marriage to Martha (Gene Tierney) notwithstanding. Ernst Lubitschís Heaven Can Wait, nominated for Academy Awards for best picture and director, is an enduring classic that showcases his trademark blend of wit, urbanity, and grace.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection updates their DVD edition of Ernst Lubitschís Heaven Can Wait to Blu-ray, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on a dual-layer disc. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 4K restoration scanned from a 35mm color reversal negative, which in turn was made directly from the three-strip nitrate original camera negatives. The original DVD used an interpositive.

The original DVD still had its issues, mostly source related, pulsing and color-separation probably being the biggest problems. But outside of that I was always happy enough with the DVD. The new restoration really is a thing of beauty, though, delivering a far sharper and more stable image on this Blu-ray. The most substantial improvement is the lack of pulsing; I donít recall it ever raising its ugly head. Despite not having access to the original three-strip negatives (the notes suggest theyíre either gone or in terrible condition) the level of detail is still quite staggering, though the old-man make-up on Ameche looks worse thanks to it.

Colors are also more firm, separation not too big a concern, and they look wonderful in all of their Technicolor glory. Flesh tones look terrific, reds just pop beautifully, as do blues, and blacks manage to look deep and rich without destroying details. Everything has been encoded nicely as well, film grain rendered cleanly and there are no obvious artifacts to speak of. A real stunner of an upgrade over Criterionís DVD.

8/10

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AUDIO

The lossless PCM 1.0 mono track is limited by the filmís age: itís clear enough and outside of some background noise its clean, but itís flat and lacks and range or fidelity.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Everything appears to get ported over from the Criterion DVD, starting with a conversation between Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris that runs 25-minutes. Though I enjoyed the chat for what it is, it is quite general, just looking at what Lubitsch brings to the film, how it holds up, how it handles the passage of time (and how it ignores certain key events), while also recalling the charms they got from the film. As I said, itís a perfectly fine discussion but didnít feel there was anything all that revelatory to be found in it.

Criterion then adds a whole section about screenwriter Samson Raphaelson. First is a 29-minute 1982 episode of Creativity with Bill Moyers for PBS, which does offer a look at his career but has the bonus of showing Raphaelson teaching in class. This is an excellent inclusion, quite entertaining as well, but even better is an audio recording of Raphaelson at MOMA following a screening. The rather funny conversation features the screenwriter recalling his work with Lubitsch, how a writer can be creative in Hollywood (he feels filmmaking allows more creativity for the director), and so on. He also does a Q&A at the end. This runs 52-minutes

Criterion next provides 4-minutesí worth of audio recordings of Lubitsch playing the piano, accompanied by an introduction by the filmmakerís daughter Nicola Lubitsch, who recalls her fond memories of her father playing. Itís a charming little addition.

Criterion also ports over all of the marketing material, which includes a theatrical trailer, a gallery of publicity photos and various shots of the cast, along with photos of the original press book, which actually makes use of those publicity photos found in the previous gallery, but colorizes them. Criterion usually dumps the galleries so it was nice to see them here.

The release then closes with a small insert featuring the same essay on the film by William Paul, which covers some of the same areas Haskell and Sarris cover in their discussion. In the end itís a fairly light set of features, but the material on Raphaelson proves to be incredibly strong, almost making up for any other shortcomings.

6/10

CLOSING

Itís disappointing Criterion didnít feel the need to revisit the supplements, though they at least port everything over from their original DVD. Still, the new restoration and presentation offers a vast improvement and for that alone I do give this release a solid recommendation.


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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca