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Posts Tagged ‘life after death’

Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is an amiable prizefighter, whose plane crashes, and his soul is plucked out of the aircraft by a messenger from the afterlife (whose job it is to collect the souls of the dead). When Joe ends up in the afterlife, it is discovered that he has been taken there 50 years too early; he would in fact have survived the crash. The head of operations in the great beyond -a kindly man named Mr Jordan (Claude Rains) says that Joe must be returned to earth, but there’s one problem – Joe’s body has been cremated. Mr Jordan lets Joe inhabit the body of a man named Farnsworth, who has been murdered by his wife and her lover. When Farnsworth ‘comes back to life’, his wife is most surprised! As Farnsworth, Joe falls for a young woman named Bette Logan, but she is unaware of his real identity.

This film was one of many released in the 40s, which looked at the issue of life after death, and it reminded me somewhat of A Matter Of Life and Death, which starred David Niven, and which explored similar themes. I actually prefered A Matter Of Life and Death, but that is not to say that Here comes Mr Jordan is not a great film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite the fact that the storyline deals with death and murder, it is actually very funny in parts, and sweetly romantic in others.

The pacing is tight, and the whole film comes in at about an hour and a half, which means that it never gets dull. It is helped along by an excellent cast – as well as Montgomery, who is perfect as Pendleton, and Rains, who brings a calmness to his role which balances out the over-excitement of other characters, the over-zealous messenger who plucked Pendleton from the plane is played by Edward Everett Horton; the exchanges between the Messenger and Joe provide a lot of laughs. James Gleason is outstanding as Max Corkle, Joe’s former manager (both Gleason and Montgomery were nominated for Oscars for their roles).

Overall, I would highly recommend this film – it really is lovely, and packed with charm. Highly recommended!

Year of release: 1941

Director: Alexander Hall

Producer: Everett Riskin

Writers: Harry Segall (play:’Heaven Can Wait’), Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller

Main cast: Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, James Gleason, Evelyn Keyes, Edward Everett Horton

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It’s a shock when Glen Glass suddenly dies for no apparent reason.  But it’s an even bigger one when he is suddenly resurrected – and totally surprises the guests at his funeral. But Glen is suffering from a problem that is rapidly increasing – he has come back from the dead, and while his body continues to decompose, his mind – which has previously been filled with little more than his favourite movies and the best ways to be as lazy as possible – is suddenly filled with purpose.  Glen is determined to find out how and why he died.  But it’s tough old world for the undead – the living fear them, and certain forces want to eliminate them for good.  Now that he’s dead, has Glen to time to overcome his idleness and discover the real meaning of life?  Is it too late for him to get the girl?  And will he ever be able to be a hero like his favourite film character, John Dance?…

I was really disappointed in this book.  The premise is certainly interesting – zombies are increasing in numbers, and rather than wanting to kill the living and turn them into the undead, most of them just want to get on with their (after)lives and go about their business, see their families and have a nice place to live.  But society wants to ostracise them and not have to think about them.

It’s written for laughs, and is not intended to be scary.  Unfortunately, it isn’t very funny either, although there were a couple of good one liners early on.  However, the prose is clunky and disjointed – things suddenly seemed to pop in the story which had no relation to anything that had gone before it, and it almost seemed as if chunks had been missed out.  Characters did things with no rhyme or reason, and it was as if prior knowledge of events which had not even been mentioned, were assumed to be known by the reader.

The story also got very convoluted towards the end, with it not being entirely clear who was in league with who, who was doing what, and what exactly it was that Glen was hoping to achieve.

Characterisation was pretty thin also – everybody in it was either a stereotype, or had no character at all.

So all in all – an interesting idea, but very poorly executed.  Disappointing.

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