HERE COMES MR JORDAN
A fight for life
released out now! 1941 | u | Blu-ray Director alexander Hall Cast robert Montgomery, Claude rains, evelyn Keyes, rita Johnson
Think of it as a Roosevelt-era Quantum Leap: Robert Montgomery is Joe Pendleton, a prizefighter with a lucky saxophone and “a heart as big as a house”. When his soul’s snatched from a fatal plane crash by an angelic interloper he finds himself in a brand new body, mixed up in murder and romance.
Arriving on Blu-ray with a crisp new 2K digital restoration, it’s a fine early example of Hollywood Celestial, the folksy, fantastical subgenre that also gave us It’s A Wonderful Life and I Married An Angel (Powell and Pressburger lifted its vision of heaven as an aviational bureaucracy for A Matter Of Life And Death).
You wish there was more monochrome otherworldliness, but the wiseguy ’40s comedy schtick is deathless. With Casablanca’s Claude Rains memorably twinkly as the cosmic Mr Jordan, it’s a film that’s earned its own afterlife.
Extras It’s a Criterion Collection release, so there’s a decent selection of cinephile-pleasing special features: “Comedy And Afterlife” (32 minutes) is a conversation between critic Michael Sragow and indie filmmaker Michael Schlesinger, talking about the movie’s history and impact. From 1991, there’s an 80-minute audio interview with actress Elizabeth Montgomery, talking about both her father and her own career (she was Samantha in Bewitched, so supernatural whimsy was clearly in her blood). There’s also an essay by the New York Post’s Farran Smith Nehme, a trailer, and, best of all, the 1942 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the movie, with Cary Grant – original pick for the role of Joe Pendleton.
The film has been remade as a vehicle for Warren Beatty (1978’s Heaven Can Wait), and Chris Rock (2001’s Down To Earth).
The new gay bar had fetching decor.