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DVD Reviews

HTF Review: Here Comes Mr. Jordan



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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 04 2007 - 03:29 PM

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Studio: Sony/Columbia
Year: 1941
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Portuguese, & Japanese


The Program: 4/5

Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a classic fantasy/comedy which won Academy Awards for Best Original Story and Best Screenplay of 1941. It also was nominated for five other Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was famously remade in 1978 by Warren Beatty as Heaven Can Wait.

The film stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton, a professional boxer who is in line for a championship fight in New York City. Following a sparring session he informs his manager, Max Corkle (played to great comedic effect by James Gleason) that he will fly his personal plane to New York. During the flight a cable to the plane’s rudder snaps, and the plane hurtles toward the ground and crashes.

Joe’s soul is plucked from the plane by Messenger #7013 (humorously played by Edward Everett Horton), whose job it is to escort the souls of the deceased to their final reward. Messenger #7013 brings Joe’s soul to a plane bound for Heaven. However, during the check-in process, Messenger #7013’s boss, Mr. Jordan (portrayed by Claude Rains with his usual charm), discovers that Joe’s name does not appear on the manifest. It turns out that Messenger #7013 has made a monumental error. In his haste, he claimed Joe’s soul a few seconds before Joe’s death. Indeed, Joe wasn’t scheduled to die until fifty years later, in 1991. Had Messenger #7013 not intervened, Joe would have pulled the plane out of its dive before it crashed.

Joe and Messenger #7013 then return to the scene of the crash, so that Joe can once again inhabit his body and live out his remaining fifty years. However, the body is nowhere to be seen. They then proceed to New York City, where they discover that Max Corkle has had Joe’s body cremated! Mr. Jordan then offers Joe the opportunity to inhabit the body of any man who has died recently. Joe proves to be picky, however – after all, he was an athlete whose condition was “in the pink,” so not just any body will do.

What follows is a series of amusing twists and turns, as Joe takes over the body of a married man but then falls in love with a young woman named Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes). A highlight of the film is very funny scene involving Max Corkle and police Inspector Williams (portrayed by Donald MacBride). Robert Montgomery is wonderful as the disembodied boxer, and James Gleason was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his turn as Max Corkle. Director Alexander Hall also was recognized with a Best Director nomination.

The Video: 4/5

Here Comes Mr. Jordan was given a complete restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and it shows. I did an A/B comparison with the Criterion laserdisc, which was issued in 1991. The differences are significant. The laserdisc version contains numerous speckles and scratches, as well as a few unstable moments. Those problem areas have been completely cleaned up. Other than a few scenes which show some digital enhancement, the picture looks clean and smooth throughout. There is some grain, which is not unexpected in a film this old, but it is not enough to be distracting. The black & white image is sharp throughout and the contrast is strong and stable.

The DVD notes that Columbia funded the restoration at UCLA. They did an excellent job of restoring this film to its original glory.

The Audio: 3/5

The audio on the Criterion laserdisc isn’t horrible, but it is sufficiently scratchy to be annoying. All of that noise has been eliminated on the DVD’s mono soundtrack. This is a dialogue-driven film, and every word of it is completely intelligible. There is nothing here to give your audio system a workout, but it does what it does very well.

The Supplements

This is a bare-bones disc from Sony/Columbia which contains no supplemental materials. It would be nice to at least see the film’s trailer, but it does not even appear on the Criterion laserdisc, so it is possible that the trailer does not exist. The only supplement on the laserdisc is an interview with the late actress Elizabeth Montgomery, who was Robert Montgomery’s daughter.

Other Features

There are none. The DVD has chapter stops, but the only way they can be utilized is through the chapter advance button on your remote.

The Final Analysis: 4/5

Although Here Comes Mr. Jordan deserves deluxe treatment, fans of the film will be so happy to see this restored version that they likely will not mind that the DVD contains no extras. The list price is $19.95, with a street price of $14 or so.

Equipment used for this review:

Cambridge Audio Azur 540D DVD player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: February 6, 2007
Rich Gallagher

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted February 04 2007 - 03:43 PM

Wow. You can't even access chapter stops through the menu? Posted Image

Thanks for the review, Richard. This is one of my purchases for this week. I'm pleased to hear about the restoration.

There were ten nominees for the Oscar for Best Picture in 1941. The winner was John Ford's How Green Was My Valley. Here Comes Mr. Jordan finds itself in some pretty good company among runners-up: Sergeant York, The Maltese Falcon, William Wyler's The Little Foxes (Lillian Hellman), Hitchcock's Suspicion...and a little film called Citizen Kane.

I've never seen this film...only its 1978 remake.

FOr anyone who wants to know, DeepDiscountDVD has it for $14.02, Amazon for $13.99, Best Buy for $14.99 and Circuit City for $15.99.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 05 2007 - 03:14 AM

Nope. When you press the menu key, your only options are to play the movie and select the language and subtitles. I wonder how much it costs to add a scene selection option?
Rich Gallagher

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Brian McHale

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Posted February 05 2007 - 03:22 AM

As long as the movie looks and sounds good I'll be happy. My copy shipped from DDD last week, so should be seeing it shortly. This has been near the top of my wish list ever since I got into DVD in 1999. Looks like I'll finally be able to retire my Beta tape...
Brian

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Jim Bur

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Posted February 05 2007 - 03:02 PM

I just received my copy of Here Comes Mr. Jordan. The picture quality is excellent. I noticed a little bit of hiss in the audio at a couple of points, however its not distracting. This is one of the great films of Hollywood's Golden Age, and I strongly recommend this DVD. Here Comes Mr. Jordan was probably the best classic film in the Columbia library which hadn't previously been released on DVD. It would be nice if some more Robert Montgomery films were issued on DVD, as his work was of consistent high quality, and he was one of the film giants in the 1930's and 1940's. So far I believe there are only 3 Robert Montgomery films on DVD. Last summer, Warners released Lady In the Lake, which Montgomery also directed, as part of their third Film Noir set, and Warners also re-released on DVD "They Were Expendable", in which Montgomery starred and also co-directed when Ford became ill, as part of the John Ford/John Wayne collection. Perhaps, the best Montgomery film that could be released on DVD is the Universal crime thriller/film noir "Ride the Pink Horse" which Montgomery also directed. It would make a great entry if Universal decides to issue another wave of film noirs. Alternatively, since Universal is now releasing some of its classic films in waves, Ride the Pink Horse would also make an oustanding entry in a classic film wave as well. Since Montgomery was under contract to MGM in the 1930's and early 1940's most of his top films are in the Warners library. He did so many excellent films, that a Montgomery box set could be of very high quality. However, Montgomery doesn't have that high a name recognition anymore so unfortunately, like the underrated Warren William, his superb work probably will never get the box set treatment it deserves. However, if Warners ever gets around to doing a box set for him I would recommend that the set include, "The Mystery of Mr. X", "Hide-Out", "Picadilly Jim', "The Earl of Chicago", and "Night Must Fall", and perhaps also "Haunted Honeymoon". c Jim Bur

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   MikeGale

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Posted February 13 2007 - 11:22 AM

The lack of menu access to chapter stops, the lack of special features and the high price for such a bare bones DVD are simply more evidence of the low regard which Sony Home Video has for its library titles. It's almost as if Sony wants to discourage people from buying their library titles and use the low sales figures as an excuse to quit releasing them.

#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted February 19 2007 - 05:12 PM

Watched this release this weekend. The restoration is top notch...as is the film itself! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon






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