Boxer Joe Pendleton, flying to his next fight, crashes...because a Heavenly Messenger, new on the job, snatched Joe's spirit prematurely from his body. Before the matter can be rectified, Joe's body is cremated; so the celestial Mr. Jordan grants him the use of the body of wealthy Bruce Farnsworth, who's just been murdered by his wife. Joe tries to remake Farnsworth's unworthy life in his own clean-cut image, but then falls in love; and what about that murderous wife? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
"Here Comes Mr. Jordan" stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton, a prize fighter who, hurtling toward earth in his damaged plane, is taken to heaven prematurely by a new heavenly worker (Edward Everett Horton). Upon reaching the gates, it appears that the book states that Joe isn't scheduled to head skyward until 1991. An attempt to return his spirit to his body fails since Joe was cremated; Joe ends up in the body of a business tycoon, Farnsworth, just drowned by his wife and male secretary, except Farnsworth is suddenly not dead. Joe as Farnsworth meets Bette (Evelyn Keyes) and falls in love with her while wreaking havoc with the man's money and business and continuing to aggravate his wife and secretary. Then Mr. Jordan comes to him with some really bad news.
This is a delightful movie, and though "Heaven Can Wait," its '70s remake, was very enjoyable, how could it be as good or better when Claude Rains and Robert Montgomery are in the original? Montgomery, who for years did light comedy as an elegant leading man, is wonderful as a streetwise prizefighter. James Gleason, as Joe's manager Corkle, has some great comic moments when he meets up with Farnsworth and Farnsworth claims to be the dead Joe. Evelyn Keyes is lovely in the ingénue role, and Rita Johnson makes an excellent murderous wife. Claude Rains played the devil in another film, and as Mr. Jordan apparently works with the Head Honcho on the other side. He exudes warmth and calmness and performs beautifully opposite the more volatile Montgomery characters.
This film was released before Pearl Harbor, but everyone knew the U.S. would be entering the war. Thus began a spate of these films - "A Guy Named Joe," "Heaven Can Wait," "The Bishop's Wife," "Angel on my Shoulder," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Down to Earth," and others. The fascination with death, angels, destiny, and souls was understandably rampant as reflected by Hollywood from 1941-1948 as people sought to understand what happened to their loved ones.
"Here Comes Mr. Jordan" is one of the really fine examples of this genre, with beautiful performances and story. I shed some tears at the end. Perhaps you will too.
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