Here Comes Mr. Jordan


1h 34m 1941
Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Brief Synopsis

A prizefighter who died before his time is reincarnated as a tycoon with a murderous wife.

Film Details

Also Known As
Heaven Can Wait, Mister Jordan Comes to Town
Genre
Comedy
Fantasy
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 21, 1941
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 7 Aug 1941
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Providencia Ranch, California, United States; Universal City--Providencia Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall (unproduced).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,436ft

Synopsis

Boxer Joe Pendleton, who is affectionately known as "the Flying Pug", because of his interests in flying and playing the saxophone, crashes his plane while piloting to a match in New York. The dead boxer's spirit is escorted by Messenger 7013 to meet Mr. Jordan, the celestial registrar. When they arrive in heaven, however, Mr. Jordan is horrified to discover that the over-eager messenger has plucked Joe's spirit from his body before the plane hit the ground and ascertains that the boxer's name does not appear on his list for another fifty years. Intending to reunite Joe with his body, the messenger accompanies him to the site of the crash, but when they discover that Joe's manager, Max Corkle, has cremated the body, they return to heaven to confer with Mr. Jordan. Jordan agrees to compensate Joe with another body "in the pink," but after a tour of the world fails to yield the perfect specimen, Jordan transports Joe to the Farnsworth mansion, where millionaire Bruce Farnsworth is scheduled to be murdered by his wife Julia and her paramour and Farnsworth's secretary, Tony Abbott.

When Jordan offers him Farnsworth's body, the boxer refuses until he sees Bette Logan arrive at the house to ask the millionaire's help in clearing her father's name. When Joe learns that Farnsworth has sold worthless securities using Logan's name, the boxer, who is bewitched by Bette, consents to assume temporarily the millionaire's identity so that he can help her. Before leaving his charge, Jordan explains that although others will see him as Farnsworth, Joe will retain his own personality. Certain that they have drowned Farnsworth, Julia and Abbott are dumbfounded when Joe strolls into the room and greets Bette. At first unsure of himself, Joe regains his self-confidence when Sisk, his valet, hands him the saxophone. After ordering Abbott to get Logan out of jail and buy back all the bad investments, Joe's attention returns to pugilism when he reads a newspaper story announcing that his opponent, fighter K.O. Murdock, is scheduled to face the world champion.

Sending for Mr. Jordan, Joe demands that he be accorded his rightful place in the championship bout. Having discovered that Joe's destiny is to be the world champion, Jordan is about to free Joe from Farnsworth's body when Bette comes to thank him for helping her father. Electing to remain as Farnsworth in order to court Bette, Joe decides to condition the millionaire's body for the bout. Joe sends for Max to help with his training, but when Max hears Farnsworth explain that he is really Joe, the manager thinks that the man has lost his mind. After Joe wins him over by playing his favorite tune on the saxophone, Max agrees to approach Murdock's manager with a lucrative financial offer to set up the match. As Abbott and Julia scheme to eliminate her husband again, Bette arrives with some papers for Joe to sign. Soon after, Messenger 7013 delivers the news that Joe can no longer inhabit Farnsworth's body. Fearful of losing Bette forever, Joe asks her promise never to forget him and rambles on that if someday, someone, possibly a fighter, approaches her and acts like he's seen her before, she should look into his eyes and give him a "break." After Bette departs, Jordan appears, and Joe pleads for more time as Farnsworth. When Jordan denies his request, Joe angrily struts into the foyer and is gunned down by Abbott. When Max learns that Farnsworth has "disappeared," he becomes suspicious and files a report with the bureau of missing persons.

On the night that Murdock is to fight for the championship title, Joe insists on returning to the Farnsworth mansion to retrieve his saxophone and arrives just as Inspector Williams is questioning Bette, Max, Julia and Abbott. When Max accuses Julia and Abbott of murdering Farnsworth, the inspector demands the body as proof. Joe, who is now only a spirit and therefore invisible, concentrates on Max to get him to turn on the radio broadcast of the fight. When Murdock is shot in the ring for refusing to throw the fight, Jordan offers to let Joe take his place and Joe grabs his saxophone and awakens in Murdock's body lying on the floor of the ring. Climbing to his feet, Joe defeats his opponent and wins the title of world champ. Still tuned to the broadcast, Max hears the announcer exclaim that Murdock is carrying a saxophone from the ring and when he notices that Joe's saxophone is missing, Max realizes that Joe has entered Murdock's body. Rushing to the boxer's dressing room, Max is welcomed by Joe who has just fired Murdock's manager for dishonesty. After showing Max the bullet hole in his chest, Joe tells him that Farnsworth's body is hidden in the basement refrigerator, and when Max passes the information to the inspector, Julia and Abbott are arrested for murder. Jordan then appears and informs Joe that Murdock is his destiny. Protesting, Joe steps into the shower, but Jordan permanently transplants his soul into Murdock's body and erases all memory of Joe Pendleton. After Joe steps out of the shower, Max is totally bewildered when the boxer claims to be Murdock and offers him a job as his manager. Now dressed, Joe walks out into the corridor, and when he passes Bette, who has come to look for Max, she seems familiar to him. Recognizing something about this stranger's eyes, Bette finds herself strongly attracted to him, and when he invites her to dinner, she recalls Joe's words about meeting a fighter one day and accepts.

Photo Collections

Here Comes Mr. Jordan - Movie Poster
Here is an original release movie poster from Columbia Pictures' Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), starring Robert Montgomery. This is an Insert poster, measuring 14 x 36 inches.

Videos

Movie Clip

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - He Keeps Telling Me I'm Dead We’ve just met sax-playing fighter Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) who insisted on flying solo to New York, running into trouble and meeting supernatural Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) and his boss, Claude Rains, noted in the title, in director Alexander Hall’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan, 1941.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - Not Even In Heaven Heavenly Claude Rains (title character) and fighter Joe (Robert Montgomery), who was cremated while wrongly presumed dead, consider the body of millionaire Farnsworth, about to be murdered by his wife and secretary (Rita Johnson, John Emery), not anticipating Miss Logan (Evelyn Keyes), in Here Comes Mr Jordan, 1941.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - I Dont See Me Around Sax-playing fighter Joe (Robert Montgomery) and bumbling Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton), who snatched him from a plane crash in which he would not have died, rush to the home of his manager Max (James Gleason), intending to install his person back into his body, in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, 1941.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - That's My Fight! Fighter Joe (Robert Young), inhabiting the body of millionaire Farnsworth, is celebrated for righting a financial wrong, escorted by his confused secretary (John Emery), when Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) and Claude Rains (title character) tell him they’ve found his new body, in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. 1941.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - I'll Play Your Favorite Tune Fighter Joe (Robert Montgomery), after an error by agents of the afterlife, still looks like himself to us, but he’s assumed the body of millionaire Farnsworth, and can’t convince his manager Max (James Gleason), without help from Claude Rains (title character), in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, 1941.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Heaven Can Wait, Mister Jordan Comes to Town
Genre
Comedy
Fantasy
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 21, 1941
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 7 Aug 1941
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Providencia Ranch, California, United States; Universal City--Providencia Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall (unproduced).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,436ft

Award Wins

Best Original Story

1941

Best Screenplay

1941

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1941
Robert Montgomery

Best Cinematography

1941

Best Director

1941
Alexander Hall

Best Picture

1941

Best Supporting Actor

1941

Articles

Here Comes Mr. Jordan


Audiences are obviously suckers for films about helpful ghosts or guardian angels because Hollywood has been grinding out variations on this theme for years. Alternately saccharine and sentimental, these films are rarely well received by the critics but there have been a few exceptions over the years, the chief one being Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which is really the film that started the whole trend. In its wake, there were numerous contenders covering the same celestial terrain - I Married an Angel (1942), Angel on My Shoulder (1946), Down to Earth (1947), Angels in the Outfield (1951), etc. - but Here Comes Mr. Jordan remains the most imaginative, comical, and romantic of the lot.

You may already know the basic premise since it was remade as Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty in 1978 and more recently as Down to Earth (2001) with Chris Rock. Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is a saxophone-playing boxer who is plucked from an airplane disaster by a heavenly messenger (Edward Everett Horton). In his haste, the messenger neglects to save Pendleton's body from being destroyed in the crash so a new 'vessel' must be found for the former athlete's spirit. Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), who is in charge of newly arrived souls in Heaven, solves the dilemma by placing Pendleton inside the body of just-murdered millionaire Bruce Farnsworth and revives him, completely baffling Farnsworth's evil wife (Rita Johnson) and her lover (John Emery). Complicating matters even further are Farnsworth's romance with a woman (Evelyn Keyes) handling a financial crisis for her father and his preparation for a championship boxing match under Pendleton's former trainer (James Gleason).

In spite of its outlandish premise, Here Comes Mr. Jordan successfully suspends one's disbelief through its expert performances, witty dialogue, and energetic direction by Alexander Hall. Audiences certainly bought it lock, stock and barrel, but critics loved it too and it garnered seven Oscar nominations, winning Academy Awards for Best Original Story (Harry Segall) and Best Screenplay (Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller).

A sterling example of an A-picture produced within the studio system, Here Comes Mr. Jordan was actually seen as a risky venture for Columbia Pictures. Studio mogul Harry Cohn had his doubts about the film's commercial prospects and was also getting heat from the company's East Coast financial advisors, who thought Cohn should play it safe and only make pictures based on past successes. At this point, screenwriter Sidney Buchman conferred with Cohn and convinced him to try something different. Once Cohn committed to the project, he borrowed Robert Montgomery from MGM, even though the actor was not happy to be on loan to Columbia (It was considered "poverty row" compared to the lavish productions of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Yet, despite Montgomery's delightful performance in the lead (he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor) it is Claude Rains and James Gleason who prove to be the chief scene stealers in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Gleason, like Montgomery, was also honored for his performance and received a Best Supporting Actor nomination that same year.

Heaven Can Wait, the title of the original play that was adapted for Here Comes Mr. Jordan is often confused with the 1943 movie, Heaven Can Wait, starring Don Ameche and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. The latter, though also a comic fantasy, has no relation to the Harry Segall play and deals instead with a playboy who reviews his notorious past while awaiting entrance into Hades.

Producer: Everett Riskin
Director: Alexander Hall
Screenplay: Harry Segall (play Heaven Can Wait), Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller
Art Direction: Lionel Banks
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Viola Lawrence
Original Music: Frederick Hollander
Principal Cast: Robert Montgomery (Joe Pendleton/Bruce Farnsworth/ Ralph Murdoch), Evelyn Keyes (Bette Logan), Claude Rains (Mr. Jordan), Rita Johnson (Julia Farnsworth), Edward Everett Horton (Messenger 7013), James Gleason (Max 'Pop' Corkle), John Emery (Tony Abbott).
BW-94m.

by Jeff Stafford

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Audiences are obviously suckers for films about helpful ghosts or guardian angels because Hollywood has been grinding out variations on this theme for years. Alternately saccharine and sentimental, these films are rarely well received by the critics but there have been a few exceptions over the years, the chief one being Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which is really the film that started the whole trend. In its wake, there were numerous contenders covering the same celestial terrain - I Married an Angel (1942), Angel on My Shoulder (1946), Down to Earth (1947), Angels in the Outfield (1951), etc. - but Here Comes Mr. Jordan remains the most imaginative, comical, and romantic of the lot. You may already know the basic premise since it was remade as Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty in 1978 and more recently as Down to Earth (2001) with Chris Rock. Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is a saxophone-playing boxer who is plucked from an airplane disaster by a heavenly messenger (Edward Everett Horton). In his haste, the messenger neglects to save Pendleton's body from being destroyed in the crash so a new 'vessel' must be found for the former athlete's spirit. Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), who is in charge of newly arrived souls in Heaven, solves the dilemma by placing Pendleton inside the body of just-murdered millionaire Bruce Farnsworth and revives him, completely baffling Farnsworth's evil wife (Rita Johnson) and her lover (John Emery). Complicating matters even further are Farnsworth's romance with a woman (Evelyn Keyes) handling a financial crisis for her father and his preparation for a championship boxing match under Pendleton's former trainer (James Gleason). In spite of its outlandish premise, Here Comes Mr. Jordan successfully suspends one's disbelief through its expert performances, witty dialogue, and energetic direction by Alexander Hall. Audiences certainly bought it lock, stock and barrel, but critics loved it too and it garnered seven Oscar nominations, winning Academy Awards for Best Original Story (Harry Segall) and Best Screenplay (Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller). A sterling example of an A-picture produced within the studio system, Here Comes Mr. Jordan was actually seen as a risky venture for Columbia Pictures. Studio mogul Harry Cohn had his doubts about the film's commercial prospects and was also getting heat from the company's East Coast financial advisors, who thought Cohn should play it safe and only make pictures based on past successes. At this point, screenwriter Sidney Buchman conferred with Cohn and convinced him to try something different. Once Cohn committed to the project, he borrowed Robert Montgomery from MGM, even though the actor was not happy to be on loan to Columbia (It was considered "poverty row" compared to the lavish productions of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Yet, despite Montgomery's delightful performance in the lead (he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor) it is Claude Rains and James Gleason who prove to be the chief scene stealers in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Gleason, like Montgomery, was also honored for his performance and received a Best Supporting Actor nomination that same year. Heaven Can Wait, the title of the original play that was adapted for Here Comes Mr. Jordan is often confused with the 1943 movie, Heaven Can Wait, starring Don Ameche and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. The latter, though also a comic fantasy, has no relation to the Harry Segall play and deals instead with a playboy who reviews his notorious past while awaiting entrance into Hades. Producer: Everett Riskin Director: Alexander Hall Screenplay: Harry Segall (play Heaven Can Wait), Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller Art Direction: Lionel Banks Cinematography: Joseph Walker Costume Design: Edith Head Film Editing: Viola Lawrence Original Music: Frederick Hollander Principal Cast: Robert Montgomery (Joe Pendleton/Bruce Farnsworth/ Ralph Murdoch), Evelyn Keyes (Bette Logan), Claude Rains (Mr. Jordan), Rita Johnson (Julia Farnsworth), Edward Everett Horton (Messenger 7013), James Gleason (Max 'Pop' Corkle), John Emery (Tony Abbott). BW-94m. by Jeff Stafford

Here Comes Mr. Jordan - Robert Montgomery in HERE COMES MR. JORDAN on DVD


Here Comes Mr. Jordan is one of those rare Hollywood classics that hasn't dated and never fails to raise one's spirits. It's one of the first and best of the Films Blanc, the splinter genre of light comedy-dramas that imagine the universe to be governed by a fanciful Hereafter. Screenwriters Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller put Robert Montgomery into a no man's land between heaven and earth, while sympathetic angels work to correct a cosmic error. Nominated for seven Oscars, the film won two, for Original Story and Screenplay.

The Columbia release has a confusing history of remakes and sound-a-likes. It's originally from a Harry Segall play called Heaven Can Wait, the title of which ended up on Ernst Lubitsch's unrelated 1943 Film Blanc with Don Ameche and Gene Tierney. But when Warren Beatty remade Mr. Jordan in 1978, he reverted to the Heaven Can Wait title. In a further wrinkle, director Alexander Hall brought back three of Jordan's characters, played by two of the same actors, for 1947's Down to Earth.

Synopsis: Saxophone-playing boxing contender Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) insists on flying against the wishes of his manager Max Corkle (James Gleason). When the plane crashes, inexperienced heavenly messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) prematurely separates Joe's soul from his body -- he was supposed to live another fifty years. To compensate, the wise heavenly supervisor Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) finds a temporary home for Joe's soul in the just-murdered body of Farnsworth, an unscrupulous banker. In his new guise as Farnsworth, Pendleton falls in love with Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes). Joe is therefore understandably upset when Mr. Jordan tells him that he'll have to move on to yet another waiting body, to live out the rest of his fifty allotted years.

The name Film Blanc was indeed invented to represent the opposite of Film Noir. This is essentially the "heavenly waiting room" movie, the kind of fantasy that proposes a fantastic continuity between life and death. The basic formula is from Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom wherein heavenly overseers grant a suicide the opportunity to return to earth to see what's become of his orphaned daughter. Films Blanc frequently present a protocol problem that taxes the cosmic system. Someone must return to earth as a ghost, or something remarkable is revealed about a man's life when viewed from an ethereal point of view. But the most common theme is the persistence of romance: Love cuts across all boundaries between earth and heaven. One need not believe in spiritual miracles to realize that life itself is miraculous.

Usually, the lighter in tone a Film Blanc, the more successful it is. Fritz Lang's version of Liliom walks a fine line between satire and pathos, while the darker Death Takes a Holiday and Outward Bound drift into morbid moods. A more positive view of existence is found in pictures as varied as Heaven Can Wait, A Guy Named Joe, The Horn Blows at Midnight, It's a Wonderful Life, A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven), Defending Your Life, Groundhog Day and Down to Earth.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a prime example of the classic Film Blanc in action. Boxer Joe Pendleton becomes the ward of angelic advisor-counselors after his earthly body is accidentally destroyed; the calm Mr. Jordan and his hyper assistant 7013 take his case as if he were a stranded plane passenger in need of V.I.P. handling. In addition to ghostly comedy and amusing identity mix-ups, the tale has an optimistic and uplifting message. The human soul is a wondrous thing that lives after us, even if it takes new forms and new identities. Our essential goodness will be passed on to those that follow. Love doesn't die with one's mortal body.

A fable as delicate as this one needs special handling, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan stands out as one of the better-cast pictures of its time. Fresh from a decade of romantic comedies, Robert Montgomery plays Joe Pendleton as an idealistic softie. It's important that a Film Blanc character be more than a puppet of supernatural forces, and Joe frequently takes the initiative. The young Evelyn Keyes also scores as a woman with a unique romantic problem. Her Bette Logan character deals admirably with the heartbreak of loss and is rewarded with a spiritual rebirth.

Heavenly emissaries Claude Rains and Edward Everett Horton regulate the traffic between the realms of existence, keeping tabs on lists of newly arrived souls. Rains' unflappable manner and smooth voice are ideal for the godly Mr. Jordan; Horton's fussy comic relief makes Rains seem all the more benevolent and wise.

The most amusing character is James Gleason's Max Corkle. As the boxing manager staggered by Pendleton's fantastic reincarnation as Farnsworth, Gleason handles most of the physical comedy and serves as an ideal audience surrogate. The twinkle in Gleason's eye endeared him to audiences through dozens of pictures, all the way to Charles Laughton's chilling The Night of the Hunter.

Director Alexander Hall keeps his focus on the exceedingly likeable characters, employing few visual or directorial touches. Mr. Jordan's heaven is a foggy 'nowhere' between earth and heaven, a visual concept that would become the standard Film Blanc setting. Other Films Blanc use elaborate art direction and special effects to envision the afterlife as a vast alien world, but Mr. Jordan's simplicity easily wins out over the likes of What Dreams May Come with its unending CGI illusions. The filmmakers know that everyday miracles like falling in love more often than not happen in ordinary places, like a walkway under a boxing arena.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan is one of those 'frivolous' fantasy concoctions that viewers never entirely forget. Montgomery's Joe Pendleton becomes a better, more thoughtful person when he's transformed into Farnsworth. He also carries the benefit of his emotional experiences with him to a third and final identity. Personal destinies in Film Blanc can be as frustratingly fatalistic as Films Noir, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan envisions a Fate that cooperates to help us live out our dreams.

Sony's DVD of Here Comes Mr. Jordan presents the 1941 film in a polished B&W transfer, restored in conjunction with the UCLA Film Archive. Frederick Hollander's sweet score comes across well on the clear soundtrack. No extras are included, but Sony's generic menu informs us of a French audio track option. The cover's cluttered collage of still images makes no impression whatsoever.

For more information about Here Comes Mr. Jordan, visit Sony Pictures. To order Here Comes Mr. Jordan, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Here Comes Mr. Jordan - Robert Montgomery in HERE COMES MR. JORDAN on DVD

Here Comes Mr. Jordan is one of those rare Hollywood classics that hasn't dated and never fails to raise one's spirits. It's one of the first and best of the Films Blanc, the splinter genre of light comedy-dramas that imagine the universe to be governed by a fanciful Hereafter. Screenwriters Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller put Robert Montgomery into a no man's land between heaven and earth, while sympathetic angels work to correct a cosmic error. Nominated for seven Oscars, the film won two, for Original Story and Screenplay. The Columbia release has a confusing history of remakes and sound-a-likes. It's originally from a Harry Segall play called Heaven Can Wait, the title of which ended up on Ernst Lubitsch's unrelated 1943 Film Blanc with Don Ameche and Gene Tierney. But when Warren Beatty remade Mr. Jordan in 1978, he reverted to the Heaven Can Wait title. In a further wrinkle, director Alexander Hall brought back three of Jordan's characters, played by two of the same actors, for 1947's Down to Earth. Synopsis: Saxophone-playing boxing contender Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) insists on flying against the wishes of his manager Max Corkle (James Gleason). When the plane crashes, inexperienced heavenly messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) prematurely separates Joe's soul from his body -- he was supposed to live another fifty years. To compensate, the wise heavenly supervisor Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) finds a temporary home for Joe's soul in the just-murdered body of Farnsworth, an unscrupulous banker. In his new guise as Farnsworth, Pendleton falls in love with Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes). Joe is therefore understandably upset when Mr. Jordan tells him that he'll have to move on to yet another waiting body, to live out the rest of his fifty allotted years. The name Film Blanc was indeed invented to represent the opposite of Film Noir. This is essentially the "heavenly waiting room" movie, the kind of fantasy that proposes a fantastic continuity between life and death. The basic formula is from Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom wherein heavenly overseers grant a suicide the opportunity to return to earth to see what's become of his orphaned daughter. Films Blanc frequently present a protocol problem that taxes the cosmic system. Someone must return to earth as a ghost, or something remarkable is revealed about a man's life when viewed from an ethereal point of view. But the most common theme is the persistence of romance: Love cuts across all boundaries between earth and heaven. One need not believe in spiritual miracles to realize that life itself is miraculous. Usually, the lighter in tone a Film Blanc, the more successful it is. Fritz Lang's version of Liliom walks a fine line between satire and pathos, while the darker Death Takes a Holiday and Outward Bound drift into morbid moods. A more positive view of existence is found in pictures as varied as Heaven Can Wait, A Guy Named Joe, The Horn Blows at Midnight, It's a Wonderful Life, A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven), Defending Your Life, Groundhog Day and Down to Earth. Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a prime example of the classic Film Blanc in action. Boxer Joe Pendleton becomes the ward of angelic advisor-counselors after his earthly body is accidentally destroyed; the calm Mr. Jordan and his hyper assistant 7013 take his case as if he were a stranded plane passenger in need of V.I.P. handling. In addition to ghostly comedy and amusing identity mix-ups, the tale has an optimistic and uplifting message. The human soul is a wondrous thing that lives after us, even if it takes new forms and new identities. Our essential goodness will be passed on to those that follow. Love doesn't die with one's mortal body. A fable as delicate as this one needs special handling, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan stands out as one of the better-cast pictures of its time. Fresh from a decade of romantic comedies, Robert Montgomery plays Joe Pendleton as an idealistic softie. It's important that a Film Blanc character be more than a puppet of supernatural forces, and Joe frequently takes the initiative. The young Evelyn Keyes also scores as a woman with a unique romantic problem. Her Bette Logan character deals admirably with the heartbreak of loss and is rewarded with a spiritual rebirth. Heavenly emissaries Claude Rains and Edward Everett Horton regulate the traffic between the realms of existence, keeping tabs on lists of newly arrived souls. Rains' unflappable manner and smooth voice are ideal for the godly Mr. Jordan; Horton's fussy comic relief makes Rains seem all the more benevolent and wise. The most amusing character is James Gleason's Max Corkle. As the boxing manager staggered by Pendleton's fantastic reincarnation as Farnsworth, Gleason handles most of the physical comedy and serves as an ideal audience surrogate. The twinkle in Gleason's eye endeared him to audiences through dozens of pictures, all the way to Charles Laughton's chilling The Night of the Hunter. Director Alexander Hall keeps his focus on the exceedingly likeable characters, employing few visual or directorial touches. Mr. Jordan's heaven is a foggy 'nowhere' between earth and heaven, a visual concept that would become the standard Film Blanc setting. Other Films Blanc use elaborate art direction and special effects to envision the afterlife as a vast alien world, but Mr. Jordan's simplicity easily wins out over the likes of What Dreams May Come with its unending CGI illusions. The filmmakers know that everyday miracles like falling in love more often than not happen in ordinary places, like a walkway under a boxing arena. Here Comes Mr. Jordan is one of those 'frivolous' fantasy concoctions that viewers never entirely forget. Montgomery's Joe Pendleton becomes a better, more thoughtful person when he's transformed into Farnsworth. He also carries the benefit of his emotional experiences with him to a third and final identity. Personal destinies in Film Blanc can be as frustratingly fatalistic as Films Noir, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan envisions a Fate that cooperates to help us live out our dreams. Sony's DVD of Here Comes Mr. Jordan presents the 1941 film in a polished B&W transfer, restored in conjunction with the UCLA Film Archive. Frederick Hollander's sweet score comes across well on the clear soundtrack. No extras are included, but Sony's generic menu informs us of a French audio track option. The cover's cluttered collage of still images makes no impression whatsoever. For more information about Here Comes Mr. Jordan, visit Sony Pictures. To order Here Comes Mr. Jordan, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Heaven Can Wait and Mr. Jordan Comes to Town. The picture opens with the following prologue: "We heard a story the other day...from a fellow named Max Corkle...so fantastic a yarn as was ever spun. You'll say it couldn't have happened. Anyway, this one was so fascinating, we thought we would pass it on to you. It begins in Pleasant Valley...where all is Peace...and Harmony...and Love...and where two men are beating each other's brains out." According to a December 1940 news item in Variety, Broadway producer Jed Harris had originally planned to produce Harry Segall's play on the New York stage until Columbia purchased the rights as a vehicle for Cary Grant. The film marked John Emery's first screen appearance since the 1937 Universal film The Road Back (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.782). Robert Montgomery was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in the picture. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, portions of the film were shot on location at Providencia Ranch, Universal City, CA.
       A January 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Columbia planned to film a sequel to this picture entitled Hell Bent for Mr. Jordan, but shelved the project until the original cast of Montgomery, Claude Rains, James Gleason and Edward Everett Horton could be re-assembled. That picture was never produced, but in 1947 Columbia released a partial sequel entitled Down to Earth, which was also directed by Alexander Hall and reunited Gleason and Horton in the roles of "Max Corkle" and "Messenger 7013" respectively. In that film, Roland Culver appeared as "Mr. Jordan." Here Comes Mr. Jordan won Academy Awards for Best Original Story and Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Gleason) and Best Cinematography. Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes and James Gleason reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on January 26, 1942, co-starring Cary Grant. Paramount remade the story in 1978 as Heaven Can Wait, directed by Warren Beatty and starring Beatty, Buck Henry and Julie Christie, and in 2001 under the title Down to Earth, directed by Paul and Chris Weitz and starring Chris Rock.