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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

"If there were no mystery left to explore, life would get rather dull, wouldn't it?"
- Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 05, 2007

Stars: Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains
Other Stars: Evelyn Keyes, Rita Johnson, James Gleason, John Emery, Donald MacBride, Don Costello
Director: Alexander Hall

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:34m:02s
Release Date: February 06, 2007
UPC: 043396050181
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+A+B D-

DVD Review

What a marvelous and charming movie this is. It's a comedy of sorts, but it's not a side splitter; it's more sweet and poignant than that, and offers about as much theology as a Hollywood movie could or should with success. While it's true that everybody wants to go to heaven but that nobody wants to die, when my number comes up, I hope to learn that what waits for us on the other side is in fact just what this movie imagines.

Robert Montgomery stars as Joe Pendleton, a great big lug of a boxer who's a terror in the ring, but is otherwise a sweetheart. He's finally getting his shot at the big time, with a title bout—training camp breaks, and with a bit of recklessness Joe insists on flying his own little plane to New York for the fight rather than take the train. This creates just enough of an opening for the fantastic to take over, or mismanage the future—Joe's plane crashes, and his wet-behind-the-ears guardian angel swoops in and takes Joe's soul to the pearly gates. But the angel—played with perplexed stuffiness by the charming Edward Everett Horton, and known to us only as Messenger 7013—got a little ahead of himself. Turns out that Joe's crash wasn't going to be as bad as all that—he would have walked away and taken the title away from the reigning champ.

And so extraordinary measures are called for. Intervening is the title character, a natty little deity played deftly by Claude Rains—Mr. Jordan is sort of the concierge of the hereafter, presiding over a tarmac of billowy clouds and seeing to it that good souls get their final one-way tickets. Joe isn't going to get cheated out of what's coming to him, though, and Mr. Jordan is forced to give him a round-trip pass, complicated by the fact that Joe's body was abruptly cremated, so the Flying Pug needs a new vessel for his eternal soul. He finds one as rapacious millionaire Bruce Farnsworth, hated by his wife and secretary, conspirators to kill him; and a shark in the board room, not above having others go to jail to paper over the geometric expansion of his fortune. There's a love interest, of course—Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes) is the daughter of a man done dirt by Farnsworth, out to clear her father's good name and get him out of the big house, and in Farnsworth's body, Joe is a sucker for a pretty face, especially one with such good intentions.

It's a terrific comic premise for a movie, and it's handled with grace—you sometimes feel that it's almost galloping along too quickly, though, and that the possibilities aren't being exploited to the fullest. (Warren Beatty must have felt that way; his Heaven Can Wait is an equally charming remake, with Joe as a quarterback rather than a heavyweight, and another Beatty title too long absent from DVD.) Much of the fun comes from the filmmakers have fun with genre conventions—it's got the trappings of a boxing picture, elements of noir, and of course borrows heavily on the staples of romantic comedy. But it's blended into a singular sort of whimsy, and it really is just a delightful hour and a half.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The DVD credits the UCLA Film & Television Archive for supervising the restoration of the print, and Mr. Jordan no doubt is saving a special place for the technicians who worked on this, because the film looks wonderful. Only an occasional bit of shakiness late in the run mars the video presentation, but this is likely due to decades of neglect and not the transfer—it may well be the most clean and pristine 1940s film I've yet seen on DVD.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: In comparison with the video, the audio transfer is merely adequate; dynamics are very limited on the mono track, but all the dialogue is audible, which is more than enough.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Japanese, Portuguese with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Nothing at all in terms of extras—the name of the film doesn't even appear on the DVD menu, and you're on your own when it comes to chaptering.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

This is as sweet and charming a film as any ever to come out of the studio system, and the restoration of the print makes it look glorious. The complete lack of extras is a modest disappointment, but it's one more than made up for by the pleasures of watching a lovely movie look so good.


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