Here Comes Mr. Jordan

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Here Comes Mr. Jordan
72HERE20COMESMRJORDANP.jpg
Directed by Alexander Hall
Produced by Everett Riskin
Screenplay by Sidney Buchman
Seton I. Miller
Based on Heaven Can Wait
(1938 play) 
by Harry Segall
Starring Robert Montgomery
Evelyn Keyes
Claude Rains
Rita Johnson
Edward Everett Horton
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • July 23, 1941 (1941-07-23)
Running time
94 min.
Country United States
Language English

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (aka Heaven Can Wait and Mr. Jordan Comes to Town) (1941) is a romantic comedy-fantasy film in which a boxer, mistakenly taken to Heaven before his time, is given a second chance back on Earth. It stars Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains and Evelyn Keyes. Here Comes Mr. Jordan was adapted by Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller from the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall and was directed by Alexander Hall.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan was followed by Down to Earth (1947), in which two of the actors reprised their roles. The premise of guardian angels was later the focus of other Hollywood features, including I Married an Angel (1942); Angel on My Shoulder (1946), in which Rains plays the Devil; and Angels in the Outfield (1951), but it all began with Here Comes Mr. Jordan.[1]

Plot[edit]

Boxer and amateur pilot Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery), affectionately known as "the Flying Pug", flies his small aircraft to his next fight in New York City, but crashes when a control cable severs. His soul is "rescued" by 7013 (Edward Everett Horton), an officious angel who assumed that Joe could not have survived. Joe's manager, Max "Pop" Corkle (James Gleason), has his body cremated. In the afterlife, the records show his death was a mistake; he was supposed to live for 50 more years. The angel's superior, Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), confirms this, but since there is no more body, Joe will have to take over a newly dead corpse. Mr. Jordan explains that a body is just something that is worn, like an overcoat; inside, Joe will still be himself. Joe insists that it be someone in good physical shape, because he wants to continue his boxing career. Joe keeps saying the body they find "has to be in the pink".

After Joe turns down several "candidates", Mr. Jordan takes him to see the body of a crooked, extremely wealthy banker and investor named Bruce Farnsworth, who has just been drugged and drowned in a bathtub by his wife Julia (Rita Johnson) and his secretary, Tony Abbott (John Emery). Joe is reluctant to take over a life so unlike his previous one, but when he sees the murderous pair mockingly berating Miss Logan (Evelyn Keyes), the daughter of a financier who was sold worthless bonds by Farnsworth's bank, he changes his mind and agrees to take over Farnsworth's body.[Note 1]

As Farnsworth, Joe repays all the investors, including Miss Logan's father. He sends for Corkle and convinces him that he is Joe (by playing his saxophone just as badly as he did in his previous incarnation). With Farnsworth's money to smooth the way, Corkle trains him and arranges a bout with the current heavyweight champion, but Mr. Jordan returns to warn Joe that, while he is destined to be the champion, it cannot happen that way. Joe has just enough time to tell Miss Logan, with whom he's fallen in love, that if a stranger (especially if he is a boxer) approaches her, to give him a chance. Then he is shot by his secretary. The body is hidden, and Joe returns to a ghostly existence.

Accompanied by Mr. Jordan, Joe finds that his replacement in the prizefight with the champ is a clean-cut, honest fighter named Murdoch, whom Joe knows and respects. Finding that he has forgotten his lucky saxophone, Joe runs back to the Farnsworth mansion to find that everyone believes Farnsworth has "disappeared." Corkle has hired a private investigator to find him. Corkle explains about Joe, Mr. Jordan and the body-switching, but of course the police detective (Donald MacBride) thinks he is a nut. Joe manages to mentally nudge Corkle into turning on the radio to the fight and hears that Murdoch has collapsed without even being touched. Mr. Jordan reveals that the boxer was shot by gamblers because he refused to throw the fight. Joe takes over Murdoch's body and wins the title. Back at the mansion, Corkle hears one of the radio announcers mention a saxophone hanging by the ringside and realizes Joe has assumed Murdoch's body.

Corkle races down to the dressing room. There, Joe passes along information from Mr. Jordan that Farnsworth's body is in a refrigerator in the basement of the mansion. Corkle tells the detective, who promptly has Mrs. Farnsworth and the secretary arrested. As Murdoch, Joe fires his old, crooked manager and hires Corkle. Mr. Jordan reveals to Joe that this is his destiny; he can be Murdoch and live his life.

Healing the gunshot wound and at the same time removing Joe's memory of his past life, Mr. Jordan hangs around for a bit longer until Miss Logan arrives. She wanted to see Corkle, but runs into Murdoch instead. The pair feel they have met before. The two go off together, while Mr. Jordan smiles and says "So long, champ."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Mr. Jordan arranges transport of souls on an aircraft in Heaven.[Note 2]

Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn was persuaded to try a somewhat "risky" project in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, despite his well-founded policy of building on past successful ventures, rather than financing more adventurous films. The original 1938 stage play, Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall, was adapted to form the basis of the film. Broadway producer Jed Harris had planned to produce the play on the New York stage, until Columbia purchased the rights as a vehicle for Cary Grant. While it was still in preproduction, Montgomery was borrowed from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to star in the film.[2][Note 3]

Principal photography began on April 21, 1941, and ran until June 5, 1941. Location shooting took place at Providencia Ranch, California, and on Universal City sound stages.[3]

Reception[edit]

When Here Comes Mr. Jordan was reviewed by film critic Theodore Strauss for The New York Times, he noted, "... Columbia has assembled its brightest people for a delightful and totally disarming joke at heaven's expense." He further described the film as, "... gay, witty, tender and not a little wise. It is also one of the choicest comic fantasies of the year."[4]

Film critic Leonard Maltin noted that Here Comes Mr. Jordan was an "Excellent fantasy-comedy of prizefighter Montgomery accidentally sent to heaven before his time, forced to occupy a new body on earth. Hollywood moviemaking at its best, with first-rate cast and performances."[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Harry Segall won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story, while Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller won for Best Writing, Screenplay. Nominations included: Best Picture, Montgomery for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Hall for Best Director, Gleason for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Joseph Walker for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive with the cooperation of Columbia Pictures and the Library of Congress.

Remakes[edit]

On January 26, 1942, Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes and James Gleason reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast with Cary Grant, the original choice for the lead role, co-starring. Here Comes Mr. Jordan was remade as Heaven Can Wait (1978), starring Warren Beatty, Buck Henry and Julie Christie. Down to Earth (2001), sharing the title with the sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan, starred Chris Rock.[2] Jhuk Gaya Aasman (English: The Skies Have Bowed) (1968) was an Indian remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan.[6]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The audience continues to see Montgomery as Pendleton, but everyone in the film, including his wife and secretary (who are astonished to see that the murder was not successful after all), see and hear Farnsworth.
  2. ^ The studio mock-up of the heavenly aircraft resembled contemporary designs.
  3. ^ Robert Montgomery was initially disappointed in MGM releasing him to star in a film for one of the "Poverty Row" studios.[1]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "Articles: 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Movie detail: 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan'." afi.com. Retrieved: April 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Original print information: 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Struass, Theodore. "Review: 'Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941);'Here Comes Mr. Jordan,' in which Robert Montgomery appears, opens at the Music Hall." The New York Times, August 8, 1941.
  5. ^ Maltin 2009, p. 603.
  6. ^ " 'Jhuk Gaya Aasman'."BoxOfficeIndia.com. Retrieved: April 10, 2015.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.

External links[edit]