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Alexander Hall
Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains, Rita Johnson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason, John Emery, Donald MacBride
Writing Credits:
Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller

Boxer Joe Pendleton dies 50 years too soon due to a heavenly mistake, and is given a new life as a millionaire playboy.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English LPCM Mono

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 6/28/2016

• “Comedy and the Afterlife” Featurette
• “Ronald Haver and Elizabeth Montgomery” Audio Interview
Lux Radio Theatre Broadcast
• Trailer
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Here Comes Mr. Jordan: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1941)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2016)

As a kid, I really liked Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait from. As an adult, I saw – but didn’t enjoy – Chris Rock’s Down to Earth from 2001. Both flicks were based on 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan, so when that movie debuted on DVD, I figured it was finally time to check out the effort that inspired the other two – and now reinspect it on Blu-ray.

Boxer Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is on the verge of a bout with KO Murdock that will allow the winner to subsequently fight for the championship. However, as the amateur aviator flies himself to New York, he hits a snag: a malfunction causes his plane to crash. Now deceased, Joe meets Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), the boss in charge of Heavenly departures.

Joe claims that he shouldn’t be there, and it turns out he’s right. He was taken by his “messenger” (Edward Everett Horton) before he actually crashed, so he needs to head back to Earth. Mr. Jordan authorizes this, but it’s too late: Joe’s manager Max Corkle (James Gleason) already had him cremated.

This creates an awkward situation but Mr. Jordan comes up with a solution. He’ll place Joe in the soon-to-be-deceased body of his choice. Joe eventually settles on the almost corpse of wealthy Bruce Farnsworth. His wife Julia (Rita Johnson) and her lover Tony Abbott (John Emery) drown Farnsworth, and Joe wants nothing to do with this sordid situation.

However, when Joe meets Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes), a babe whose father Farnsworth cheated, our boxer falls for her and decides to become a new man to help, though he only agrees to be Farnsworth long enough to assist Betty.

Mr. Jordan slips Joe into the body before anyone notices the demise. As Farnsworth, Joe cleans up some ethical messes and does right by Bette. This complicates matters since Mr. Jordan finds an athletic new body for Joe so he can continue to fight.

However, Joe goes with his heart first and decides to stay as Farnsworth to woo Bette. In an attempt to have his cake and eat it too, Joe tries to turn Farnsworth into a fighter. The movie follows these various plot threads along with additional complications.

As I mentioned at the start, Jordan stands as the third iteration the story I saw, so I didn’t think I’d find anything unexpected in the tale. Though that remains true, the movie’s execution proves so fresh and delightful that nothing else matters.

Much of the credit goes to Montgomery’s terrific performance as Joe. In the early moments, he proves amusingly combative and pushy as he works with Mr. Jordan and the messenger. Montgomery maintains that slightly insolent tone through the movie but manages to let the character grow and become more human. He’s valuable for comedic moments but also quite good as the more emotional moments.

Montgomery isn’t alone, as the rest of the cast chips in plenty of fine moments. Horton provides a prissy little turn that makes his scenes valuable, and Gleason adds life to Joe’s confidante. Rains is always solid, and he allows Mr. Jordan to manage events with a serene confidence. The various actors bolster the flick well.

At a brisk 94 minutes, Mr. Jordan also knows better than to overstay its welcome. With an inherently goofy plot, the flick could have exposed various holes and become tedious with a longer running time. However, since the movie cranks along the way it does, it keeps us entertained and involved. The balance of comedy, drama and romance also moves the action nicely.

Really, there’s little about which I can complain on display here. Here Comes Mr. Jordan tells an inventive tale that holds up even for those of us who’ve seen its remakes. The flick charms and amuses.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Here Comes Mr. Jordan appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer represented the movie well.

Sharpness was fairly positive. At times the movie came across as a bit soft and ill-defined, but not with great frequency. The majority of the flick seemed accurate and concise. No problems with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and no edge haloes occurred.

In terms of print flaws, Jordan looked pretty clean. The image could be grainier than expected – especially during occasional effects shots – but specks and marks popped up infrequently. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows came across as clear and smooth. Contrast seemed well-represented. Overall, this was a satisfying transfer.

I also felt pleased with the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Speech came across as slightly tinny but the lines were acceptably natural, and they seemed crisp and without edginess. Music was restricted to a degree, as I expected given the vintage of the track. Nonetheless, the score was clear and reasonably tight.

Effects fell into the same category. Those elements were acceptably accurate, though they also lacked much dimensionality. Only minor background noise ever appeared. For a flick from 1941, this was a good track.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD release from 2007? Audio was comparable, as the source restricted any potential improvements. However, visuals showed the expected step up in quality, as the Blu-ray looked cleaner and tighter.

Whereas the DVD included zero extras, the Criterion release provides a few. Comedy and the Afterlife runs 32 minutes, 13 seconds and features critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker/distributor Michael Schlesinger. They discuss their appreciation for the movie as well as aspects of its creation and legacy. Both Michaels provide a lot of good notes – it’s too bad they didn’t record a full commentary, as they dig into the movie well.

With Ronald Haver and Elizabeth Montgomery, we get an audio recording from 1991. In this one-hour, 19-minute and 42-second piece, actor Elizabeth – also the daughter of Robert – chats with film critic Haver. They mainly talk about Elizabeth’s relationship with her famous father and reflect on his work, but we also get thoughts about Elizabeth’s own career – with the expected emphasis on Bewitched.

Affable and open, Montgomery provides an illuminating series of memories. She doesn’t sugarcoat elements, so she paints a realistic picture of her father as someone she loved but with whom she didn’t always see eye to eye. Montgomery’s honesty makes this a better than expected interview.

Next we find a January 1942 Lix Radio Theatre broadcast of Jordan. The 52-minute, 45-second show brings back Evelyn Keyes, James Gleason and Claude Rains to play their movie roles. Robert Montgomery fails to appear, but Cary Grant – who originally got asked to play Joe – fills in for him.

Like all radio adaptations, this one cuts the narrative to the bone, but it still gets in most of what the tale needs. Grant offers a good performance in place of Montgomery and helps turn this into a charming rendition of the story.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the package finishes with a booklet. This gives us an essay from critic Farran Smith Nehme and it adds value to the set.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan provides a spry and amusing fable that holds up well after 75 years and various remakes. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio along with a handful of informative supplements. Criterion gives us a solid release for an enjoyable film.

To rate this film visit the prior review of HERE COMES MR. JORDAN

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