Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941)

Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941), directed by Alexander Hall.

A boxer ("The Flying Pug") crashes his plane just before his championship bout. Through the error of a trainee "messenger", he is conveyed to the celestial realms too soon. He wasn't supposed to die in the crash, in fact he had another 50 years! The heavenly staff owe him another body, one suitable for a prizefighter.

This type of metaphysical whimsy used to be popular on stage and screen, and still gets made from time to time. It's a chance to laugh but also ponder the big issues of life and death. Love is always in the mix. Even in a farce we care about lovers' meetings and departures.

The comic bits get well-exercised here, maybe too much. Fight trainer James Gleason has to carry much of this: although always played by Robert Montgomery, Joe supposedly looks and sounds different depending on what body he is in. Continued shock and amazement! No one can see Joe or the angels when they are inspecting a scene: can you believe it? Joe is never happy with his choices, the big dope.

I have nothing against Evelyn Keyes but I think the film would have benefited from a livelier romantic lead.

Claude Rains always masters his roles.

Photographed by Joseph Walker who did many of Capra's pictures. You can tell -- it has that look. Edith Head costumes.

Remade as Heaven Can Wait (1978) with Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and James Mason.

Criterion Blu-ray.