Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

93 mins | Screwball comedy | 21 August 1941

Director:

Alexander Hall

Producer:

Everett Riskin

Cinematographer:

Joseph Walker

Editor:

Viola Lawrence

Production Designer:

Lionel Banks

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Heaven Can Wait and Mr. Jordan Comes to Town . The picture opens with the following prologue: "We heard a story the other day...from a fellow named Max Corkle...so fantastic a yarn as was ever spun. You'll say it couldn't have happened. Anyway, this one was so fascinating, we thought we would pass it on to you. It begins in Pleasant Valley...where all is Peace...and Harmony...and Love...and where two men are beating each other's brains out." According to a Dec 1940 news item in Var , Broadway producer Jed Harris had originally planned to produce Harry Segall's play on the New York stage until Columbia purchased the rights as a vehicle for Cary Grant. The film marked John Emery's first screen appearance since the 1937 Universal film The Road Back (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.782). Robert Montgomery was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in the picture. According to a HR news item, portions of the film were shot on location at Providencia Ranch, Universal City, CA.
       A Jan 1942 HR news item noted that Columbia planned to film a sequel to this picture entitled Hell Bent for Mr. Jordan , but shelved the project until the original cast of Montgomery, Claude Rains, James Gleason and Edward Everett Horton could be re-assembled. That picture was never produced, but in 1947 Columbia released a partial sequel entitled Down to Earth (see above), which was also directed by Alexander Hall and reunited Gleason and Horton in the roles of "Max ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Heaven Can Wait and Mr. Jordan Comes to Town . The picture opens with the following prologue: "We heard a story the other day...from a fellow named Max Corkle...so fantastic a yarn as was ever spun. You'll say it couldn't have happened. Anyway, this one was so fascinating, we thought we would pass it on to you. It begins in Pleasant Valley...where all is Peace...and Harmony...and Love...and where two men are beating each other's brains out." According to a Dec 1940 news item in Var , Broadway producer Jed Harris had originally planned to produce Harry Segall's play on the New York stage until Columbia purchased the rights as a vehicle for Cary Grant. The film marked John Emery's first screen appearance since the 1937 Universal film The Road Back (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.782). Robert Montgomery was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in the picture. According to a HR news item, portions of the film were shot on location at Providencia Ranch, Universal City, CA.
       A Jan 1942 HR news item noted that Columbia planned to film a sequel to this picture entitled Hell Bent for Mr. Jordan , but shelved the project until the original cast of Montgomery, Claude Rains, James Gleason and Edward Everett Horton could be re-assembled. That picture was never produced, but in 1947 Columbia released a partial sequel entitled Down to Earth (see above), which was also directed by Alexander Hall and reunited Gleason and Horton in the roles of "Max Corkle" and "Messenger 7013" respectively. In that film, Roland Culver appeared as "Mr. Jordan." Here Comes Mr. Jordan won Academy Awards for Best Original Story and Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Gleason) and Best Cinematography. Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes and James Gleason reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 26 Jan 1942, co-starring Cary Grant. Paramount remade the story in 1978 as Heaven Can Wait , directed by Warren Beatty and starring Beatty, Buck Henry and Julie Christie, and in 2001 under the title Down to Earth , directed by Paul and Chris Weitz and starring Chris Rock. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 41
p. 375.
Box Office
26 Jul 1941.
---
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1940.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 41
p. 4.
Film Daily
30 Jul 1941.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 41
p. 3, 4
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 41
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 41
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Jul 1941.
---
New York Times
8 Aug 41
p. 13.
Variety
30 Jul 41
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
STAND INS
Stand-in for Robert Montgomery
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall (unproduced).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Mister Jordan Comes to Town
Heaven Can Wait
Release Date:
21 August 1941
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 7 August 1941
Production Date:
21 April--5 June 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 July 1941
Copyright Number:
LP11015
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93
Length(in feet):
8,436
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7409
SYNOPSIS

Boxer Joe Pendleton, who is affectionately known as "the Flying Pug", because of his interests in flying and playing the saxophone, crashes his plane while piloting to a match in New York. The dead boxer's spirit is escorted by Messenger 7013 to meet Mr. Jordan, the celestial registrar. When they arrive in heaven, however, Mr. Jordan is horrified to discover that the over-eager messenger has plucked Joe's spirit from his body before the plane hit the ground and ascertains that the boxer's name does not appear on his list for another fifty years. Intending to reunite Joe with his body, the messenger accompanies him to the site of the crash, but when they discover that Joe's manager, Max Corkle, has cremated the body, they return to heaven to confer with Mr. Jordan. Jordan agrees to compensate Joe with another body "in the pink," but after a tour of the world fails to yield the perfect specimin, Jordan transports Joe to the Farnsworth mansion, where millionaire Bruce Farnsworth is scheduled to be murdered by his wife Julia and her paramour and Farnsworth's secretary, Tony Abbott. When Jordan offers him Farnsworth's body, the boxer refuses until he sees Bette Logan arrive at the house to ask the millionaire's help in clearing her father's name. When Joe learns that Farnsworth has sold worthless securities using Logan's name, the boxer, who is bewitched by Bette, consents to assume temporarily the millionaire's identity so that he can help her. Before leaving his charge, Jordan explains that although others will see him as Farnsworth, Joe will retain his own personality. Certain that they have drowned Farnsworth, Julia and Abbott ... +


Boxer Joe Pendleton, who is affectionately known as "the Flying Pug", because of his interests in flying and playing the saxophone, crashes his plane while piloting to a match in New York. The dead boxer's spirit is escorted by Messenger 7013 to meet Mr. Jordan, the celestial registrar. When they arrive in heaven, however, Mr. Jordan is horrified to discover that the over-eager messenger has plucked Joe's spirit from his body before the plane hit the ground and ascertains that the boxer's name does not appear on his list for another fifty years. Intending to reunite Joe with his body, the messenger accompanies him to the site of the crash, but when they discover that Joe's manager, Max Corkle, has cremated the body, they return to heaven to confer with Mr. Jordan. Jordan agrees to compensate Joe with another body "in the pink," but after a tour of the world fails to yield the perfect specimin, Jordan transports Joe to the Farnsworth mansion, where millionaire Bruce Farnsworth is scheduled to be murdered by his wife Julia and her paramour and Farnsworth's secretary, Tony Abbott. When Jordan offers him Farnsworth's body, the boxer refuses until he sees Bette Logan arrive at the house to ask the millionaire's help in clearing her father's name. When Joe learns that Farnsworth has sold worthless securities using Logan's name, the boxer, who is bewitched by Bette, consents to assume temporarily the millionaire's identity so that he can help her. Before leaving his charge, Jordan explains that although others will see him as Farnsworth, Joe will retain his own personality. Certain that they have drowned Farnsworth, Julia and Abbott are dumbfounded when Joe strolls into the room and greets Bette. At first unsure of himself, Joe regains his self-confidence when Sisk, his valet, hands him the saxophone. After ordering Abbott to get Logan out of jail and buy back all the bad investments, Joe's attention returns to pugilism when he reads a newspaper story announcing that his opponent, fighter K.O. Murdock, is scheduled to face the world champion. Sending for Mr. Jordan, Joe demands that he be accorded his rightful place in the championship bout. Having discovered that Joe's destiny is to be the world champion, Jordan is about to free Joe from Farnsworth's body when Bette comes to thank him for helping her father. Electing to remain as Farnsworth in order to court Bette, Joe decides to condition the millionaire's body for the bout. Joe sends for Max to help with his training, but when Max hears Farnsworth explain that he is really Joe, the manager thinks that the man has lost his mind. After Joe wins him over by playing his favorite tune on the saxophone, Max agrees to approach Murdock's manager with a lucrative financial offer to set up the match. As Abbott and Julia scheme to eliminate her husband again, Bette arrives with some papers for Joe to sign. Soon after, Messenger 7013 delivers the news that Joe can no longer inhabit Farnsworth's body. Fearful of losing Bette forvever, Joe asks her promise never to forget him and rambles on that if someday, someone, possibly a fighter, approaches her and acts like he's seen her before, she should look into his eyes and give him a "break." After Bette departs, Jordan appears and Joe pleads for more time as Farnsworth. When Jordan denies his request, Joe angrily struts into the foyer and is gunned down by Abbott. When Max learns that Farnsworth has "disappeared," he becomes suspicious and files a report with the bureau of missing persons. On the night that Murdock is to fight for the championship title, Joe insists on returning to the Farnsworth mansion to retrieve his saxophone and arrives just as Inspector Williams is questioning Bette, Max, Julia and Abbott. When Max accuses Julia and Abbott of murdering Farnsworth, the inspector demands the body as proof. Joe, who is now only a spirit and therefore invisible, concentrates on Max to get him to turn on the radio broadcast of the fight. When Murdock is shot in the ring for refusing to throw the fight, Jordan offers to let Joe take his place and Joe grabs his saxophone and awakens in Murdock's body lying on the floor of the ring. Climbing to his feet, Joe defeats his opponent and wins the title of world champ. Still tuned to the broadcast, Max hears the announcer exclaim that Murdock is carrying a saxophone from the ring and when he notices that Joe's saxophone is missing, Max realizes that Joe has entered Murdock's body. Rushing to the boxer's dressing room, Max is welcomed by Joe who has just fired Murdock's manager for dishonesty. After showing Max the bullet hole in his chest, Joe tells him that Farnsworth's body is hidden in the basement refrigerator, and when Max passes the information to the inspector, Julia and Abbott are arrested for murder. Jordan then appears and informs Joe that Murdock is his destiny. Protesting, Joe steps into the shower, but Jordan permanently transplants his soul into Murdock's body and erases all memory of Joe Pendleton. After Joe steps out of the shower, Max is totally bewildered when the boxer claims to be Murdock and offers him a job as his manager. Now dressed, Joe walks out into the corridor, and when he passes Bette, who has come to look for Max, she seems familiar to him. Recognizing something about this stranger's eyes, Bette finds herself strongly attracted to him, and when he invites her to dinner, she recalls Joe's words about meeting a fighter one day and accepts. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.