Right here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection

Right here comes Judge Clark Douglas!

A image various from anything ever screened before!

Every single couple of years or so, we get a new “guardian angel” flick: It is a Superb Life, Angels in the Outfield, The Heavenly Kid, Michael, and so on. To varying degrees, the DNA of these motion pictures can be traced back to the 1941 comedy Right here Comes Mr. Jordan, which more or much less established both the cheeky-but-not-sacrilegious tone that has defined numerous cinematic portraits of guardian angels. A lot of the films produced on the topic have a tendency to drift as well far into cutesiness or sentimentality, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a fairly excellent template for what such films ought to be: it really is just the correct mixture of sweet, funny and clever.

Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery, Lady in the Lake) is a gifted boxer who’s on the brink of becoming the new prizefighting champion. When he is not fighting, he’s normally playing his saxophone (he’s hardly prepared to join the Glenn Miller band, but he’s okay) or flying his modest personal airplane. One particular day, he foolishly attempts to do each of these items at the same time. The plane crashes, and Joe is killed. Moral of the story: Do not be an idiot.

Ah, but the tale is just beginning. Joe arrives in heaven, demanding to know what is going on and where his plane went. “I don’t belong here!” he insists. Incredibly, he’s right: a high-ranking angel named Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains, Casablanca) discovers that Joe wasn’t scheduled for death for an additional fifty years, and rapidly agrees to let Joe go back to earth and re-enter his physique. Alas, by the time he gets to the crash web site, someone else has currently located the body and cremated it. Mr. Jordan proposes an alternate solution: he’ll give Joe yet another physique. Of course, it’ll have to be the physique of a person who has just died…you can not just have two souls trapped in the same bag of meat.

Right after significantly deliberation, Joe sooner or later agrees to accept the physique of Bruce Farnsworth, a wealthy, corrupt investment banker who has just been drowned by his wife Julia (Rita Johnson, My Buddy Flicka) and her lover Tony Abbott (John Emery, Joan of Arc). He’s a small hesitant about becoming a person everyone hates, but Mr. Jordan insists that he can turn about Farnsworth’s reputation in no time. So, following shocking Julia and Tony with the revelation that he’s nonetheless alive, “Farnsworth” proceeds to use his wealth to repay all of the investors he cheated.

Rather than casting two different actors as Joe/Farnsworth, the film lets Montgomery manage everything on his personal: when he looks in the mirror, we see the shock on his face, but we don’t see whatever he’s seeing. The actor proves much more than capable of handling the challenge, capturing a slightly dim (but not quite dumb) man who slowly but surely starts to master the art of being an additional particular person. He’s initially worried about raising suspicion, but quickly learns that his worries are unfounded: who’s going to believe that an individual else is living inside Farnsworth’s body?

For the most component, the film plays Joe’s complicated scenario for laughs that exist someplace in between screwball lunacy and sitcom-style familiarity (though certainly it felt less standard back when the film was first released…after all, no one particular had accomplished anything quite like this at the time). Joe’s largest issue is that he isn’t content to basically be the person he’s been asked to be. He wants his old life back: he nevertheless desires to be a prizefighting champion, even if he has to use Farnsworth’s physique to do it. Suffice it to say that this want causes some complications. There is also a romance of sorts with the lovely Miss Logan (Evelyn Keyes, Gone with the Wind), the daughter of a financier Farnsworth had cheated. Miss Logan had hated Farnsworth in the previous, but now…well, there’s one thing diverse about him.

The film’s greatest asset is the great efficiency of Claude Rains in the title part. Rains plays Mr. Jordan with serene but good-humored officiousness, maintaining a close eye on everything that occurs but in no way acquiring even a little unnerved by the hiccups along the way. Rains’ dulcet tones, warm eyes and polite smirk are just correct for the element, and he generates the film’s most significant laughs by punctuating Montgomery’s bluster with completely-placed 1-liners.

Curiously, the film in no way really refers to Mr. Jordan as an angel (even though that is certainly what he is), nor does it make any explicit reference to God or religion or theology. It’s clear that heaven—assuming that is what it is—has a really distinct way of performing issues, but we aren’t genuinely offered a detailed look at any of that (Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life feels like a film produced by an individual who watched a film like this and decided to use the missing pieces as a starting point). It merely establishes some simple-to-interpret pictures and lets viewers bring their own biases to the table.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection provides a fine 1080p/complete frame transfer. The image is crisp and clean, supplying sharp detail, impressive depth and nearly no scratches, flecks or other bits of print harm. The LPCM 1. Mono track is sharp, also, with no crackling or hissing present. Dialogue is always clear, and the music sounds complete and healthy. Supplements incorporate a conversation between critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker Michael Schlesinger, an audio interview with Elizabeth Montgomery (Robert’s daughter), a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film starring Cary Grant in the Montgomery function, a trailer and a booklet featuring an essay by Farran Smith Nehme.

Director Alexander Hall isn’t specifically a Hawks or a Sturges, but his direction is simple and successful. This is easily the best-identified perform of his career, and the only film that earned him an Academy Award nomination. In addition to offering some kind of inspiration for all these other guardian angel films, Right here Comes Mr. Jordan also inspired a sequel (the 1947 film Down to Earth) and two remakes (Heaven Can Wait in 1978 and Down to Earth—which makes use of the plot of Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the title of its sequel—in 2001). For my cash, the very first is still the ideal: not very a classic, but a consistently charming and occasionally inspired supernatural comedy.

DVD Verdict


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