Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941): Comedy Fantasy, Starring Robert Montgomery

Nominated for the Best Picture, Alexander Hall’s comedy-fantasy Here Comes Mr. Jordan won the two writing awards of 1941: best original story and best screenplay.

Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller’s scenario was based on the play by Harry Segall,

“Heaven Can Wait” recounts a fantasy in which a prizefighter named Joe Pendelton  (Robert Montgomery) dies in a plane crash and is sent by to heaven by an overzealous angel (Edward Everett Horton), who realizes it was a mistake.

Another angel, Mr. Jordan (Claude Raines) sorts out the mess and Joe is sent back to earth in the body of a murdered millionaire.

Extremely popular at the time, the film’s premise later served as the inspiration for Warren Beatty’s blockbuster comedy “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), which was also nominated for Best Picture.  The original “Heaven Can Wait” is actually a 1943 Ernst Lubitsch’s lovely account of family life in 19th century Hungary, with gorgeous sets and costumes.

The romantic subplot, with Evelyn Keyes as the object of interest, is not very interesting, but the beginning and ending of this fairy tale are entertaining.

Robert Montgomery was nominated for Best Actor and James Gleason, as the fighter’s manager Max Corkle, was nominated in the supporting league, though neither won.


Oscar Nominations: 7

Picture, produced by Everett Riskin

Director: Alexander Hall

Screenplay: Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller

Original Story: Harry Segall

Actor: Robert Montgomery

Supporting Actor: James Gleason

Cinematography (b/w): Joseph Walker


Oscar Awards: 2


Original Story


Oscar Context

The most nominated film in 1941 was Howard Hawks’ patriotic saga, “Sergeant York,” which received 11 nominations and won two: Gary Cooper as Best Actor and Film Editing for William Holmes.

Nominated for ten Oscars, “How Green Was My Valley” won five, honoring Ford’s Direction, Arthur Miller’s Cinematography and Art direction.  Sara Allgood was nominated for Supporting Actress, as the gentle mother, and Donald Crisp won the Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the stern father who’s killed in the mine.

“How Green Was My Valley” was selected by the Academy while the U.S. had already been involved in the War.  The film’s warmly sympathetic portrait of family unity must have hit a chord in the country’s collective consciousness, which may explain why its two major competitors, Orson Welles’s masterpiece, “Citizen Kane” and William Wyler’s “The Little Foxes,” each with nine nominations, were the big losers.  Both films, particularly “Little Foxes,” represented dark and somber visions of the American family.  Once again, the “right” ideological contents made the difference, though it’s noteworthy that “How Green” was as visually distinguishable as it was thematically acceptable.