Readers Confess: The Movie I Walked Out On
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Beatty's directing debut was this sparkling romantic comedy, a remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan, in which Beatty also stars as Joe Pendleton, a jock who is spirited to Heaven due to a celestial snafu and is forced to return to Earth in the body of a doomed tycoon.
Beatty won a directing Oscar for this biopic, an epic like no other. The story of American journalist John Reed (Beatty), who enthusiastically reported on the Russian Revolution, only to become disillusioned by the Soviet government's totalitarianism, is interspersed with talking-head testimony from real-life witnesses to the events of the film.
Beatty's corrosive satire about the sclerotic cynicism of Washington politics didn't find an audience — maybe because politically-minded moviegoers were preoccupied with the stranger-than-fiction Lewinsky scandal, or because they didn't get Beatty's character, a senator who suddenly starts speaking in awkward, hip-hop rhymes. —Gary Susman