24 June 2016



Aw...! This romantic comedy-fantasy film from the war years is just so heartwarming and uplifting, it'd put a smile on the face of a stone statue. Especially if that statue had a soft spot for wartime comedies that centred around the theme of the afterlife, as this film does and which was a popular theme for movies of the time.

The plot concerns an ordinary nice guy called Joe Pendleton, played by Robert Montgomery. He's not your obvious romantic lead like Clark Gable or Cary Grant (the latter, incidentally, was the first choice for the lead role), but he's solidly-built and honest and loyal and he's got a heart of gold. He's a boxer with the twin passions of amateur flying and playing the saxophone. ('Lisa! Quit playing that damn saxomophone...!)

One thing you should never do, of course, is to combine the two. Flying a plane while playing your 'saxomophone,' I mean. One day on his way to an important boxing match, Joe is daft enough to do just that. Naturally, his plane crashes and, before you can say 'only a total feckin' eejit would do a stupid feckin' thing like that,' a heavenly messenger has whisked him off up to the Pearly Gates.

Luckily for Joe, his number's not really up yet. He's relieved when he's informed by Mr. Jordan, the messenger's supervisor and an all-round big-wheel up in Heaven, that he's actually got another fifty years left to live. The whole thing's just been a clerical error, in fact. A bureaucratic snafu. Isn't that a lovely word, snafu? I wonder where the bloody hell it comes from and what it means...!

Anyway, Mr. Jordan's plans to allow Joe to go back down to Earth to re-inhabit his old body at the crash site are thwarted when they find out that disaster has struck. Joe's boxing manager, Max Corkle, has (with somewhat unseemly haste!) had Joe's earthly remains cremated. Quelle horreur, as the French would say.

Poor Joe no longer has a working body to call his own. He is, as the French would also say, very much sans a body. The search is on then to find Joe a new body. It won't be brand-new, however. It'll be pre-owned or even pre-loved, as I believe second-hand clothes in fancy charity shops are now described, and it'll come with its own particular set of challenges and even obstacles for Joe to overcome. Is he up to the task? Is K.O. Murdoch the best darned prizefighter since the late great Joe Pendleton? You bet your butt he is.

Claude Rains is excellent as the smiling Mr. Jordan, whom Joe can see and hear but no-one else can, which of course makes Joe appear crazy at times to other Earthlings. Mr. Jordan is so cuddly and unflappable and he never gets ruffled by anything and his grey hair is incredibly bouffant. He does a terrific job as the Heavenly Supervisor who's always there for Joe when Joe needs him most.

Evelyn Keyes is well-suited to her part as Joe's love interest, Bette, and her muff is quite simply enormous. And it's so furry, too. You guys think I'm being smutty again but I swear I'm not this time. This time...! In one of her scenes with Joe, she's carrying the biggest and most luxurious furry muff you ever saw. It's bigger than she is, for crying out loud. Why women in the olden days needed such ridiculously huge muffs is beyond me, seriously. Am I being smutty again? Maybe...!

I was delighted to see dear old Halliwell Hobbes, an actor who often portrayed butlers in movies, playing the faithful 'major-domo' Sisk. He's past his prime and, not unnaturally, he's unable to keep up with Joe's fitness montage, which is most endearing to watch. He's such a lovely, cuddly old butler. He can certainly polish my silver anytime. If I had any to polish. Which I don't. Not since the Great Silver Fire of '03, anyway.

The interiors of the Farnsworth house are utterly beautiful and I spent much of this Oscar-winning and multi-Oscar-nominated film just ogling them and mourning the fact that only posh rich people have libraries and studies in their houses anymore. Well, I assume they do. I'm only going by what I've seen on telly, like.

Not too many rich poshos in real life invite me round to their gaffs for a nosy, which is a crying shame in my humble opinion. It's their loss, anyway, not to have me pawing their precious collectibles and rummaging through their keepables. All they had to do was invite me. I would've gone! In a flash I would've gone.

I'd hate to leave you movie buffs without some good news to keep you going till our next rendezvous, so here it is. HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, later re-made with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978) and in 2001 with Chris Rock as DOWN TO EARTH, is out on Blu-Ray this June, complete with some rather delicious extra features for you to peruse at your leisure.

This delightful cinematic treat comes courtesy of the good people at THE CRITERION COLLECTION and SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT. They're so kind and thoughtful and so good to us, and what have we ever done for them, the poor neglected lambs!

The least we can do is to buy their Blu-Ray for ourselves and all our friends and families and their friends and families as well, not forgetting our neighbours and maybe even the man who came to fix the piano that time and his wife and seven adult step-children. Christmas is just around the corner, after all, and there's nothing so satisfactory as beating the rush.

If you like good war-era romantic comedy-fantasies with people playing the saxomophone in 'em while piloting light aircraft, then this is the film for you. With regard to playing any musical instrument while piloting a small aircraft, however, please heed these words of caution. They're free, gratis and for nothing. Don't try this at home...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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