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HERE COMES MR. JORDAN(director: Alexander Hall; screenwriters: Sidney Buchman/Seton Miller/from the play by Harry Segall/Mr. Segall; cinematographer: Josph Walker; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: Frederick Hollander; cast: Robert Montgomery (Joe Pendleton), Evelyn Keyes (Bette Logan), Claude Rains (Mr. Jordan), James Gleason (Max Corkle), Rita Johnson (Julia Farnsworth), Edward Everett Horton (Messenger 7013), John Emery (Tony Abbott); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Everett J. Riskin; Columbia Pictures; 1941)
“Somewhat enjoyable but rather routine romantic fantasy film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alexander Hall without verve directs this somewhat enjoyable but rather routine romantic fantasy film that was remade by Warren Beatty in 1978 as Heaven Can Wait. It is based on the play by Harry Segall and is scripted by Sidney Buchman and Seton Miller.

Boxer Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is rescued from a plane crash in New Jersey by an overzealous angel (Edward Everett Horton) before his time was really up and is taken to Heaven. Once there he meets the avuncular angel (Claude Rains) who is in charge of the heavenly angels. The kindly Rains discovers Joe has fifty more years to live and thereby does damage control as he tries to get Joe a new body to return to earth and live out his guaranteed years. It turns into a comedy of errors as they search for the new body, with Joe being very choosy after the disappointment hits home that his top notch athletically fit body was already cremated. They finally settle for the body of millionaire Oliver Farnsworth who was just murdered in his bath by his wife Julia (Rita Johnson) and his secretary Tony Abbott (John Emery), his wife’s lover.

On Joe’s return to earth he tries to win the world’s boxing championship in Farnsworth’s body, to the frustrations of his puzzled fight manager Max (James Gleason) who finds it difficult to comprehend what is being told to him by a man who looks like Farnsworth but says he’s Joe. It seems Joe looks like Farnsworth to others but to himself still looks like Joe. Also a new love interest pops up in Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes), the daughter of a man Farnsworth had unscrupulous dealings with and framed and is now about to go to jail. Rains gets Joe to straighten out that situation. If all that weren’t enough, things get more complex when Farnsworth pays back the millions to clear Bette’s father and his wife and lover react in the same cold-hearted murderous way they previously did.

Rains seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself in this little romp into the afterlife, and his stellar performance bears this out. Montgomery tries too hard to shun his elite image and act like a regular joe for him to be entirely credible. But the film is not without a quaint charm in parts, though its afterlife visions are more or less the dullish Hollywood ones that comically rely mostly on reaction shots to the odd situation.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”