Even after two remakes--one a classic (Heaven Can Wait), the other, not so much (Chris Rock's Down to Earth)--this 1941 fantasy, an Oscar-winner for Best Original Story and Screenplay, has lost none of its ethereal charms. Robert Montgomery gives a knockout performance as Joe Pendleton, a boxer "in the pink" and poised to be the next heavyweight champion until a celestial messenger (Edward Everett Horton at his fussy best) pulls him from an impending plane crash and sends him to heaven before his time. Courtesy of Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), Joe resumes his training in the body of a wealthy, unscrupulous businessman whose wife and personal secretary are plotting to murder. James Gleason steals his scenes as Joe's understandably befuddled manager, with lovely Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan, whose innocent father the real Farnsworth framed and sent to prison, and with whom Joe/Farnsworth falls in love. Though this DVD doesn't even feature a chapter menu, the film itself is, as advertised, "as fantastic a yarn as was ever spun" and will make you feel, as Bette does when she looks into Joe's eyes, "warm, alive, and happy." And they don't make too many like that anymore. --Donald Liebenson Stills from Here Comes Mr. Jordan (click for larger image)
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