Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swingin’ spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We hope you had a good weekend. Or at least a better weekend than the Mets had. We have a few good tables available this evening. If you need us to check your coat, we can do that now. Come on in and relax with us. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
There was no baseball today. There won’t be any Cubs baseball for a while.
Last week I asked you if you thought the Cubs should tender a contract to infielder Zach McKinstry. I think I got more votes on this question than I’ve gotten on any question of mine this year. I don’t know if people were spamming the vote totals or not, but I’d guess not because 1) I got a lot more comments than I normally get on a question and 2) who would take the time to do something like that for Zach McKinstry?
In the end, seventy percent of you think the Cubs should non-tender McKinstry and let him go.
Here’s the part where I talk about movies and jazz. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Today (or yesterday if you’re reading this on Tuesday) would have been the 105th birthday of the great pianist Thelonious Monk. So to honor Monk, we have a selection of his from his “Paris 1969” concert.
As this article explains, this concert at Salle Pleyel in Paris was a bit of a triumph for Monk. Fifteen years earlier, when he was an unknown outside of hardcore jazz circles, Monk played the same hall and bombed. Not only did his more avant-gardé form of jazz not connect with French audiences in 1954, Monk was playing with local musicians unfamiliar with his work and they just didn’t gel. On top of that, Monk was nervous and probably drunk during the show.
But in 1969, Monk was back. He has his longtime saxophonist Charlie Rouse with him, as well as two young prodigies: Paris Wright on drums and Nate Hygelund on bass.
So here’s the Thelonious Monk Quartet in performance in Paris in 1969. It’s a piece of music he wrote himself: “I Mean You.”
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) is a pleasant fable, ably told and directed by Alexander Hall, about the afterlife and how everyone ends up where they belong in the end. It stars Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes and Claude Rains as the titular Mr. Jordan.
Montgomery is Joe Pendleton, a sweet, stubborn but not too bright prize fighter from Brooklyn. He has two traits that are basically plot devices—he pilots a plane to his events and he plays the saxophone badly. The piloting thing gets him known as the “Flying Pug” which drives his manager, Max Corkle (James Gleason) nuts because of the danger. But Joe insists that flying is perfectly safe because he never goes anywhere without his “lucky” saxophone.
Flying solo back to New York from a training session in New Jersey, Joe’s plane goes down. After the crash, the next thing we see is a misty void with people lining up to get on an airplane. Joe is arguing with “Messenger 7013” (Edward Everett Horton) about where he is and would you please take him back? The Messenger can’t convince him of anything so he brings him to his boss, the titular Mr. Jordan.
Obviously, Joe is dead and is on his way to heaven. The Messenger and Mr. Jordan are angels, although “Heaven” and “Angels” are never mentioned once in the entire film. It’s just the “afterlife” and “messengers.” Joe begins to argue with Mr. Jordan about his situation and Joe tells him that he can’t be dead because nothing can happen to him as long as he’s got his lucky saxophone with him—which he’s still carrying in the afterlife.
Mr. Jordan asks the pilot of the plane to please check the records for Joe Pendleton, and he dutifully reports that Joe is not scheduled to join them until 1991. Mr. Jordan is quite disturbed by this development and asks the Messenger what happened.
It turns out that the Messenger is new and he decided to spare Joe the agony of death by pulling him out of the plane before impact. Mr. Jordan is quite angry about this, although Rains always keeps Mr. Jordan’s emotions under control and he speaks with a clipped efficiency.
Mr. Jordan says there’s nothing to be done except put Joe back in his body. But by the time they return, Max has already found the body, had a funeral and cremated the body.
Thus, there’s nothing else to do for Joe but find him a new body.
Joe is obsessed with becoming a boxing champion, so he rejects every body that Mr. Jordan offers him as not being capable of fighting for a title. Finally Mr. Jordan offers him the body of a rich young playboy named Bruce Farnsworth. Joe wants nothing to do with anyone who is dying at a young age, but Mr. Jordan tells him he’s not dying, Farnsworth is being murdered by his wife, Julia (Rita Johnson) and personal secretary, Tony Abbott (John Emery). The two are having an affair behind his back.
Joe wants to call the police, but Mr. Jordan informs him that no one on the earthly plane can see or hear them, so the police would be of no help. Joe decides to move on to the next body until Bette Logan (Keyes) enters. Abbott decides to hear her out, figuring that would cause Farnsworth’s butler to find the body and then they can move on.
Bette demands to talk to Farnsworth, accusing him of framing her father, who is now in jail accused of securities fraud. (This appears to be correct. Farnsworth was apparently a bastard.) But Joe is thunderstruck with love at first sight with Bette. His good nature also can’t allow this beautiful woman’s father go to prison for something Farnsworth did. (Left unanswered is what Joe would have done had Bette been less attractive.) So he makes a deal with Mr. Jordan. He’ll take Farnsworth’s body temporarily to straighten out Bette’s problems and then he move on to one with a chance of winning a boxing title.
Of course, Julia and Tony are shocked when Farnsworth appears after they drowned him in the bathtub. But Joe acts as if nothing has changed. He tells Bette that he’ll get her father out of jail and pay back all the money that Farnsworth swindled through the securities fraud.
Afterwards, Joe decides that Farnsworth’s body isn’t too bad and summons Corkle, his trainer. Max has no idea who Farnsworth is but Joe manages to convince him that he is who he says he is by showing his saxophone and playing it just as badly as Joe ever did. Joe’s plan is for Max to train him—as Farnsworth—to become a prize fighter and for him to win the title—again, as Farnsworth. He also starts to woo Bette, despite still being married to Julia. He also tells Bette that if a fighter ever takes an interest in her one day, please give him a chance.
Joe bribes the promoters (with Farnsworth’s money) to give Farnsworth a shot at the title. But Mr. Jordan re-appears and tells him yes, Joe is destined to be champion. But not like this. “It wasn’t meant to be,” Mr. Jordan repeats several times.
Everyone thinks Farnsworth has lost his ever-loving mind with sudden interest in boxing. Not only that, but paying back all the money he stole has caused the stock in his company to crash. Julia and Tony decide that they just have to kill Farnsworth again. Mr. Jordan returns and tells Joe that it’s time to leave Farnsworth’s body. Joe refuses, fearing he’ll lose Bette and his shot at the title. But before he can argue too much, Tony and Julia shoot Farnsworth dead. And for good, this time. The killers hide the body in the basement, so no one knows where Farnsworth has gone.
Max is despondent that Joe/Farnsworth has disappeared and hires detectives to try and find him. Meanwhile, the title bout that Joe/Farnsworth was supposed to get instead goes to Joe’s rival, Murdock.
Joe and Mr. Jordan, now in the non-material plane, return to the mansion to retrieve Joe’s lucky saxophone. While there, the detectives and police are grilling Julia and Tony about Farnsworth’s disappearance. Max is there and not making sense to anyone, because he’s the only one who knows that Farnsworth was actually Joe Pendleton.
Mr. Jordan tells Joe that he can “nudge” Max into turning the fight on the radio. Max turns it on and listens to Murdock fighting for the title. Murdock is winning easily, but all of a sudden he collapses without even getting touched.
Mr. Jordan explains to Joe that Murdock was supposed to throw the fight and the gangsters who fixed the fight just shot him. (Really. How a fighter can get shot by a bullet in the ring in the middle of a title fight without anyone noticing is beyond me. Just chalk it up to Hollywood magic.) Joe is despondent. Murdock was his rival, but he was a good guy and he was honest. Mr. Jordan tells him to hurry—Joe can still win the fight—as Murdock. Joe reluctantly enters Murdock’s body, gets off the canvas and wins the fight and the title.
After the fight, Mr. Jordan meets with Joe/Murdock and tells him that you see, it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Joe is the champion, only in Murdock’s body. But there’s a twist. Now that Joe has found his permanent body, he’s not going to remember anything about being Joe or Farnsworth. Mr. Jordan says they’ll meet again—when it’s time. (Presumably 1991)
Corkle immediately recognizes that Murdock is Joe, and rushes to the arena to meet him. Joe’s saxophone tells him he’s right, but Murdock remembers nothing and thinks Max is nuts. Still, Murdock fires his crooked managers and hires Max, knowing that he has a reputation for honesty and that his current managers set up this fixed fight.
As Murdock leaves, Bette has also rushed to the arena. She runs into Joe/Murdock, and the two of them look at each other as if they’ve met before. They talk and end up walking off together. Mr. Jordan, who has been watching all of this, says goodbye to Joe with a slight smile.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan is a very pleasant fable. Rains in particular is terrific as Mr. Jordan. As this boss of the afterlife, Rains keeps Mr. Jordan as professional and courteous at all times, but he manages to let his affection and sympathy for Joe show through a slight facial expression or a slight change of tone in his voice. He tries to be kind when he explains to Joe that “it’s not meant to be,” even when he can’t reveal anything beyond that. He never loses his patience, not even with the Messenger, who starts the film with a pretty huge screwup.
I always love to see Edward Everett Horton in a film. He’ll always be the guy who narrated the “Fractured Fairy Tales” on Rocky and Bullwinkle to me, but he was really one of the great comedic character actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
I’m not as happy about the choices that Robert Montgomery made as Joe Pendleton. The lovable pug from Brooklyn was a cliché stock character at the time and Montgomery really leans into the cliché—as well as the accent. His Joe lacks depth to me. I know this was a choice and not just bad acting by Montgomery because his demeanor changes completely when he changes his body at the end. Still, I think it was the wrong choice that Montgomery and director Alexander Hall made here with how to portray Joe.
Max Corkle is also a kind of stock character (think Burgess Meredith in the Rocky films) but James Gleason does at least get a large percentage of the laugh lines. He’s the only one on Earth who has any understanding of what’s going on with Joe Pendleton and he reacts to it with all the absurdity it deserves. He can’t see or hear Mr. Jordan, but he has long conversations with him anyway. Of course, they’re one-sided conversations because Mr. Jordan isn’t actually there when he’s talking to him. Max just thinks he’s there.
The rest of the cast are just sort of there. Halliwell Hobbes gets in a few good lines as Sisk. Farnsworth’s butler, but the rest of the cast don’t really stand out much, and that includes Evelyn Keyes as Bette. They’re not bad, but they’re just not memorable.
In the end, you can see how a bit of clever, escapist fantasy would be popular in 1941. The overall message that “Everything will turn out as it’s meant to be” was also reassuring in what was a very scary time. It’s generally considered a classic light comedy and despite a few problems I have with the film, I can see why.
Here is the scene where Mr. Jordan introduces Farnsworth to Joe as a prospective body. Rains is particularly good in this scene.
Next time—on Wednesday night/Thursday morning—I will take a look at the 1978 remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait, starring Warren Beatty and directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry. The remake takes it title from the original play that Here Comes Mr. Jordan was based on.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the movies and music.
Tonight I’m going to steal this piece from Cole Wright and Ryan Dempster over at Marquee Sports and ask you “What was the greatest moment of the 2022 Cubs season?”
You can watch the video at the link if you need to remember what all these events were. I wish we had something like “Ben Zobrist doubles” or “Kris Bryant throws a slow roller to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for an out” as a highlight, but the 2022 Cubs have these to choose from. It’s not much, but they’re our memories.
April 7 – Nico Hoerner’s home run on Opening Day
April 23 – Cubs score 21 runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates
April 28 – Willson and William Contreras exchange lineup cards
May 1 – Marcus Stroman records first win as a Cub
May 16 – Willson Contreras records 100th career home run
May 17 – Christopher Morel’s MLB debut home run
August 11 – Cubs win Field of Dreams game
August 21 – Ian Happ hits 100th career home run
September 22 – Hayden Wesneski’s immaculate inning
October 5 – Cubs end season on high note vs. Reds
So which one is your favorite? Or do you have a candidate of your own?
What is your favorite moment from the 2022 Cubs?
This poll is closed
Nico Hoerner’s Opening Day HR
Cubs beat Pirates 21-0
Contreras brothers embrace
Marcus Stroman’s first Cubs win
Willson Contreras’ 100th home run
Christopher Morel’s 1st home run
Cubs win "Field of Dreams"
Ian Happ’s 100th home run.
Hayden Wesneski’s immaculate inning
Cubs trounce Reds 15-2 on the final day
Something else (Leave in comments)
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