Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Overlooked Movies: Here Comes Mr. Jordan

I like Warren Beatty's remake of this movie (Heaven Can Wait) a lot, but I also like the original a lot.  It's a pretty well-known film, but have any of you seen it lately?  Or seen it at all?   Robert Montgomery is Joe Pendleton, who's supposedly died in a plane crash, except that he hasn't, and rookie messenger 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) has picked him up to put him on a fast plane to heaven.  It's up to Mr. Jordan (Claude Raines) to straighten out this blunder when it's discovered that Joe can't return to his body because it's been cremated.  

(Okay, I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking (1) that heaven shouldn't make mistakes like that and (2) that a little thing like cremation shouldn't be a problem for the Big Guy.  Just go with the flow and don't let this stuff bother you.  There's another mistake coming right up.)

What Mr. Jordan has to do is find Joe a new body.  Joe's very particular, but he finally settles for the body of a millionaire named Farnsworth, who's just been murdered by his wife and secretary.  Joe's a prizefighter, and after he wreaks havoc with Farnsworth's crooked business dealings, he starts training Farnsworth's body and getting his old manager to set up a championship bout for him.  He's hardly had time to get back in the pink when he learns about that other mistake I mentioned.  Farnsworth is going to die again.  There's no way around it; it's his destiny.  Joe will have to get into another body.

This time Joe gets the champion boxer's body.  Not a bad deal, but all of this is complicated by the fact that Joe's fallen in love with Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes).  Will things work out?  Hey, this is the 1940s, not the cynical 21st century.  No wonder I miss the old days.

I really like this movie.  The performances are wonderful right down the line, and both Montgomery and James Gleason (who plays his manager) were nominated for Academy Awards.  The sound is great, and even my old ears can understand every single spoken word.  The B&W photography looks really good.  Again, it's no wonder I miss the old days.  See this movie, and you might, too.


Jeff Meyerson said...

I miss the old days too, and even though it's been a long time since I saw this I remember it too. I always liked James Gleason. I didn't see a need for a remake though Warren did a pretty good job, helped greatly by Dyan Cannon and Jack Warden (both of whom got Oscar nominations, as did Beatty) and Charles Grodin and, of course, Julie Christie.

But why call it HEAVEN CAN WAIT when there was already a perfectly good 1940s movie of that name? Was Warren trying to confuse us?


Unknown said...

With Warren, who knows? I thought Cannon and Grodin were hilarious in the remake. Beatty expanded their roles to good effect.

Cap'n Bob said...

I saw it on TV a couple or three weeks ago.

Max Allan Collins said...

One of my favorite movies. Also the remake was among the superior ones of its kinds, with skillful updating. But the original is absolutely great -- funny, touching, suspenseful, and Montgomery is at his best...really his signature role (the fantasy aspect a nice connection to his daughter, who he apparently had a somewhat stormy relationship with). In my top ten favorites, easily.