Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
Boxer Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is destined to win the world championship before he is prematurely taken to heaven by an over-zealous messenger angel, Messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton). Joe was not meant to die in the plane crash. In fact, he is not due to heaven till 1991. Now, Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) must help him find a new body to realize his pre-destined fate of becoming world champion.
Bruce Farnsworth has just been murdered by his loving wife (Rita Johnson) and his secretary (John Emery). Mr. Jordan believes that Farnsworth’s situation may provide to be a suitable body for Joe until a more permanent solution can be found. Joe soon learns that Farnsworth is not an innocent party in the house, he and his secretary have framed a good man for selling worthless bonds to investors. Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes) is tirelessly working to clear her father’s name and soon catches the eye of reincarnated Joe as Farnsworth. Joe even contacts his old trainer and beginning training again for the world championship. Just as things are looking good for Joe, Mr. Jordan tells him that Farnsworth is going to be murdered and Joe will need to find a new body. As Joe and Bette part for the evening, he looks intently at her trying to memorize her face. He tells her that if she ever meets a fighter that has a certain look in his eyes, she needs give him a chance. Joe can only hope to be reunited with Bette, but only Mr. Jordan knows the true fate of Joe Pendleton.
One cannot change the course of their destiny. However, there are other forces which often times drive our destiny. Mr. Jordan guides and wields the destiny of Joe putting him in situations that will allow him to make change. What is that old saying….Life never gives us more than we can handle. Trying not to give too much away, by the end of the movie, Joe will not remember being Farnsworth or even being Joe Pendleton. But, his life has been changed by meeting Bette. Meeting her and helping her father has become part of Joe’s destiny as much as becoming world champion.
The movie was adapted from the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall. Columbia Pictures purchased the rights to the story intending Cary Grant to star in the lead role. Viewers, who wish to hear how Cary Grant would have sounded in the role of Joe Pendleton, can hear him in the Lux Radio Theater’s radio drama adaptation of Here Comes Mr. Jordan which was originally broadcast on January 26, 1942. A partial sequel was made in 1947 called Down to Earth; it too was directed by Alexander Hall and stared Gleason and Horton in the roles of Max Corkle and Messenger 7013 respectively.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan won the Academy Award for Best Original Story and Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Alexander Hall), Best Actor (Robert Montgomery), Best Supporting Actor (James Gleason) and Best Black-and-White Cinematography (Joseph Walker).
This is a revised version of a post that appeared on this website on April 14, 2013 as the feature movie for the weekly Classic Movie Night Recommendation.
Tagged: Cary Grant, Claude Rains, Columbia Pictures, Down to Earth, Edward Everett Horton, Evelyn Keyes, Harry Segall, Heaven Can Wait, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, John Emery, Rita Johnson, Robert Montgomery