Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), starring Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains, James Gleason, Edward Everett Horton
I recently saw Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and I can say that I truly enjoyed it, with wonderful performances all around — a movie that clearly deserved it’s Oscars. Here’s why:
At it’s heart, Here Comes Mr. Jordan is about a boxer named Joe (played well by Robert Montgomery) on his way to win the championship, who is killed in a plane crash — except that he would have survived the plane crash except for the actions of an over-eager angel (played well by the fussy Edward Everett Horton), which throws scheduled events off. Edward Everett Horton’s superior, Mr. Jordan (played incredibly well by Claude Rains) — it’s not clear if Mr. Jordan is simply a high-ranking angel or supposed to be God Himself, but for this story, it really doesn’t matter.
To put things right, Mr. Jordan places the spirit of Joe into the body of a recently-deceased millionaire — a millionaire murdered by his wife and lawyer — and who begins to correct some of the millionaire’s corrupt actions, helping a beautiful young girl (played by Evelyn Keyes) prove her father’s innocence in financial shenanigans. He then begins training to box and contacts his manager and best friend (played incredibly well by character actor James Gleason) — once he can convince him that it’s really Joe in a new body.
Of course, the scheming millionaire’s wife and her boyfriend aren’t through with trying to murder the millionaire …
In short, it’s an excellent movie (admittedly with a silly premise), with excellent acting throughout — resulting in people that the audience actually care about, cheer for, and grieve with at the appropriate moments. I highly recommend Here Comes Mr. Jordan and rate it 5 stars.
Editorial review of Here Comes Mr. Jordan courtesy of Amazon.com
Even after two remakes–one a classic (Heaven Can Wait), the other, not so much (Chris Rock’s Down to Earth)–this 1941 fantasy, an Oscar-winner for Best Original Story and Screenplay, has lost none of its ethereal charms. Robert Montgomery gives a knockout performance as Joe Pendleton, a boxer “in the pink” and poised to be the next heavyweight champion until a celestial messenger (Edward Everett Horton at his fussy best) pulls him from an impending plane crash and sends him to heaven before his time. Courtesy of Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), Joe resumes his training in the body of a wealthy, unscrupulous businessman whose wife and personal secretary are plotting to murder. James Gleason steals his scenes as Joe’s understandably befuddled manager, with lovely Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan, whose innocent father the real Farnsworth framed and sent to prison, and with whom Joe/Farnsworth falls in love. Though this DVD doesn’t even feature a chapter menu, the film itself is, as advertised, “as fantastic a yarn as was ever spun” and will make you feel, as Bette does when she looks into Joe’s eyes, “warm, alive, and happy.” And they don’t make too many like that anymore. –Donald Liebenson
Product Description of Here Comes Mr. Jordan
When a boxer (Robert Montgomery) is accidentally called to Heaven 50 years before his time, it’s up to celestial executive extraordinaire Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) to straighten out the matter. When Columbia Pictures’ financial advisors read the screenplay for the fantasy comedy HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, they had their doubts as to its box-office potential. Screenwriter Sidney Buchman went directly to studio president Harry Cohn in an effort to convince him to make the film. Cohn liked the script’s uniqueness and, saying that all his bankers wanted was “what sold last year,” told Buchman he’d make the picture. To play the saxophone-playing boxer Joe Pendelton, Cohn decided to borrow Robert Montgomery from MGM. Although Mongomery had some initial doubts about his part, he delivered what was to become an Oscar -nominated performance. The film, which received a total of seven 1941 nominations, including Best Picture, won two (Best Motion Picture Story, Best Screenplay). HERE COMES MR. JORDAN
Trivia for Here Comes Mr. Jordan
- The tune that Joe Pendleton keeps playing (poorly) on his saxophone is “The Last Rose of Summer” – whether he’s Joe Pendleton or millionaire Farnsworth.
- Claude Rains plays an agent of Heaven who finds a new body for the soul of Robert Montgomery. In Angel on My Shoulder (1946) Rains plays the Devil, who finds a new body for the soul of Paul Muni. Harry Segall, who wrote the story for the latter film, also wrote the play “Heaven Can Wait”, upon which Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) is based.
- Here Comes Mr. Jordan is reportedly based on the play “Heaven Can Wait”. However, there are two films with that title. The first film Heaven Can Wait (1943), staring Don Ameche and Gene Tierney, is based on the stage play “Birthday”, written by Leslie Bush-Fekete. In the play and film, the central character is an older man who has lived a full life and is confronted by the Devil, who has to decide if he qualifies to enter “Hades”. It is a different storyline than the one for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. The second film titledHeaven Can Wait (1978), staring Warren Beatty, based on a play with the same title, written by Harry Segall, is practically a word for word rewrite of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). The one exception being that a Football player replaces a Boxer as the central character.
- The police inspector investigating the murder of Farnsworth (Donald MacBride) played the same befuddled police officer role in the Laurel and Hardy film, The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case as well in the Three Stooges short film, If a Body Meets a Body
- Benny Rubin has a minor role as the final boxer’s assistant