Cast & Crew
Angels Charles and Arthur are sent to earth to assist Item, the unborn child of Jeff and Lydia Bolton, who have been too busy with their careers in the theater to consider having a baby. Charles, Arthur and Item are invisible to mortals and can pass through solid objects, such as doors and walls. Charles is not impressed by the Boltons and tells Item that when she selected them to be her parents seven years before, she selected two of the most selfish people he has ever known. After Jeff, a director, has a long phone conversation with playwright Daphne, who has written a new show for him and Lydia, an actress, Jeff tries to interest Lydia in performing in the play. Lydia complains she is exhausted and bored with the theater and wants to have a child, but Jeff does not. Thinking he may be able to bring the couple closer together and thus hasten Item's arrival into the world, Charles decides to materialize and to pose as a theatrical "angel" interested in backing the new play. He models his mortal manifestation after Gary Cooper and goes by the name of "Slim" Charles. As Slim, Charles gains the couple's friendship while Arthur, still invisible, keeps an eye on Charles' activities. Jeff tries to interest Charles in the play and invites him to their farm in Pennsylvania for the weekend. Daphne is also invited and Jeff asks her to use her wiles on Charles, but with Arthur's intervention, Charles resists her advances. When Lydia confides in Charles that her marriage is in trouble, he convinces her to save her marriage and have a child. Charles and Arthur then arrange for Lydia to seduce Jeff. However, Jeff receives a telegram that Tex, a genuine cowboy who backed his last play, is on his way to the farm. Daphne's actor boyfriend Tony, who has played one too many gangster roles, also shows up. Tex wants to back the new show but is reluctant because Charles has already offered. When Tex suggests they cut cards, like Western gentlemen, to see who will prevail, Charles eagerly agrees and Tex wins. Tony, meanwhile, has been summoned to appear in front of an I.R.S. agent regarding inappropriate deductions he has claimed and tells the agent about the large sums of money Tex and Slim appear to have. After the agent discovers that they have no records at all on "Slim Charles," he begins an investigation of Charles. Meanwhile, using $10,000 he won from Tex, Charles moves into a penthouse apartment and spends lavishly. Arthur is disgusted by his behavior, but Charles insists that he is still working on Item's case and is planning a big dinner party for Jeff and Lydia's eighth wedding anniversary, from which he expects them to become romantic with memories of other anniversaries. Arthur and Item, meanwhile, confer with Joe, another yet-to-be-born child, whose "father" is an unsuccessful writer. Arthur tries to help by transmitting a story idea from his own experience into the father's subconscious. After Jeff and Lydia leave his dinner party, Charles falls into conversation with a man at the next table, the I.R.S. agent. When the agent says he supposes that the dinner party he has just witnessed will be tax deductible, Charles informs him that he does not know what income tax is, has never paid any tax and, in any case, is an angel who will shortly be returning to heaven. Later, Charles is seen talking to the invisible Arthur and is placed in a cell at Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric observation. Item comes to visit Charles, who has lost his ability to vanish and reappear, and tells him that Jeff and Lydia are separating. After Item says a prayer for the restoration of Charles' powers, he disappears from the cell. Joe then reports to Arthur that his father has sold the story Arthur gave him, and therefore, he and his wife should now be able to afford to have a child. Jeff discovers that Lydia may be pregnant and they reunite, much to Item's delight. Nine months later, in a hospital waiting room, Joe's father introduces himself to Jeff, who recognizes him as the author of "The Angel Watches," which he wants to dramatize. Charles and Arthur are also present as they are the newly assigned guardian angels of the children about to be born.
Jack La Rue
Harry Von Zell
Lois Abele Craft
W. C. Handy
Dr. Brewster M. Higley
Daniel E. Kelly
Arthur L. Kirbach
Walter M. Scott
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
For Heaven's Sake (1950)
As film historian Jeanine Basinger has pointed out in her book The Star Machine, Webb's comedy characters are basically just like his Waldo Lydecker persona, acerbic and witty, but without the "evil villain" component. In the fantasy-comedy For Heaven's Sake, Webb plays a celestial being who watches over children waiting to be born. When one couple (Robert Cummings and Joan Bennett), a theater director and actress, prove too busy to have their baby, Webb and a fellow angel (Edmund Gwenn) come to Earth to prod the couple along. Webb disguises himself as a fellow named Slim, modeled after Gary Cooper -- and Cooper's haircut from The Westerner (1940)!
In a Fox press release, Webb channeled his screen persona in describing his role: "I come down from heaven and attempt to get a little boy born to a certain couple. I bring the little boy with me. I always have children in my pictures because, I'm certain, it's punishment for having lived so long as a bachelor. Anyway, I have this little boy with me and he's the kind of a lad that if I weren't an angel, I might use a slight bit of force on him."
Another press release explained that Webb and Gwenn were dressed entirely in gray because Fox executives decided that's how angels dress, and that they "never were permitted to sit down between scenes" since the studio deemed that angels should never have sharp creases in their trousers. On the other hand, another document claimed that two sets of furniture were constructed for scenes in which the angels do in fact sit down: one for mere mortal characters and the other for the angels made of concrete so that their mass-less bodies would not sink down into the material.
The director George Seaton and writer Harry Segall were both drawn to light supernatural stories in their careers. Seaton had directed Miracle on 34th Street (1947), also starring Gwenn, and had written the fantasy play on which The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) was based. Segall wrote the play Heaven Can Wait, which was the basis for Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) and Down to Earth (1947), and also wrote the screenplay for Angel on My Shoulder (1946).
Reviews were mostly positive, but not everyone was on board. The New Yorker declared: "For Heaven's Sake is an egregious little confection that recounts how a couple of angels come down to earth to persuade a couple of theatrical people to procreate. This is done so an unborn child -- ambling around in a kind of never-never land -- can get on solid ground and know all the pleasures real little boys and girls enjoy. Sickening enough?"
For Heaven's Sake marked 43-year-old Joan Blondell's first movie appearance in over three years, after a failed marriage in the interim to Broadway producer Michael Todd.
Producer: William Perlberg
Director: George Seaton
Screenplay: George Seaton; Dorothy Segall, Harry Segall (play)
Cinematography: Lloyd Ahern
Art Direction: Richard Irvine, Lyle Wheeler
Music: Alfred Newman
Film Editing: Robert Simpson
Cast: Clifton Webb (Charles/Slim Charles), Joan Bennett (Lydia Bolton), Robert Cummings (Jeff Bolton), Edmund Gwenn (Arthur), Joan Blondell (Daphne Peters), Gigi Perreau (Item), Jack La Rue (Tony Clark), Harry von Zell (Tex Henry), Tommy Rettig (Joe Blake).
by Jeremy Arnold
For Heaven's Sake (1950)
According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department in the Arts-Special Collections Library at UCLA, the studio bought Harry Segall's play in November 1949 for $15,000. Segall had previously dealt with angelic characters in his play Heaven Can Wait which was the source for the films Here Comes Mr. Jordan (see below), Down to Earth and the remake of the former, Heaven Can Wait (1978). Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Gigi Perreau from Samuel Goldwyn's company for this film. When For Heaven's Sake opened in New York, Twentieth Century-Fox promoted it with the line "Belvedere's Back!" in an attempt to capitalize on Clifton Webb's successful films, Sitting Pretty and Mr. Belvedere Goes to College. A brief racetrack sequence was shot at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles, CA.