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Posts Tagged ‘Warren Beatty’

I like rom-coms and I like fantasy movies.  Today’s reviews are for two movies which combine the rom-com and the guardian angel (fantasy) genres:  “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait“.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1941 and (as far as I know) was one of the first movies where the idea of an angel or guardian angel featured as a prominent plot point in the film.  The movie stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a boxer and the “hero”), Rita Johnson as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), John Emery as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), James Gleason as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer / manager), Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 (the angel in training) and Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).
The premise is a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a boxer dies before his championship fight because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (becoming champ).  The problem is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his title and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a black-and-white film which is overacted and simple to follow, but also genuinely funny and enduring.  I am quite certain I’d seen this movie in my youth, but I have no idea when it would have been.  I watched this with my wife, (who likes old movies but doesn’t normally like comedies,) and she both enjoyed it and actually laughed a couple of times.  You could knock me over with a feather…  Her reaction:  “This is the kind of movie I would have watched with my nana when I was young.”  Final recommendation: strong.  While not intended to be a “period piece”, this certainly is one – and it’s a pretty good one on that alone.  Throw in the rom-com and you’ve got a movie worth watching with your family.
Heaven Can Wait  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1978 and is a pretty straight forward remake of the original with minor character changes.  The movie stars Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a American football quarterback and the “hero”), Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), Charles Grodin as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), Jack Warden as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer), Julie Christie as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Buck Henry as “the Escort” (instead of “Messenger 7013” – the angel in training) and James Mason as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).  I have no idea why two Brits were chosen to play the main angels in both films.  I think it was for the accent – to make them sound more heavenly.  (LOL)
The premise(s) remain a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a quarterback dies before his championship game (the Super Bowl) because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (winning the Super Bowl).  The problem (again) is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his Super Bowl and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a color film which is somewhat overacted (particularly by Cannon and Grodin – for laughs) and not as funny as the original (Warden isn’t as funny as Gleason), but it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Actor and Best Picture) and won one (not one of the main Oscars).  I saw this movie in my youth during its original release.  I did not watch this version with my wife who felt she didn’t want to “spoil” the memory of the original by watching the updated version.  Final recommendation: strong.  While not quite up to the original, it’s a pretty good remake.  And, again, a family film.
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On This Day In:
2017 All Greek To Me
2016 Judgment
2015 I Love Bacon, Too
2014 The Wee Bit
2013 Reading Rules
2012 Cadet Prayer
2011 Easy To Tell
2010 A NEW Lion In The Senate (Channeling Mr. Smith)
Inception Redux
A Quick Hit Of Stats

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Today’s review is for a DVD I picked up for old time’s sake.  The movie is titled: “Diner” from 1982 and was directed by Barry Levinson.  This was his directorial debut and was one of four movies he made about life in his hometown: Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s is supposed to be a “comedy / drama”, but I didn’t find much to laugh about in the movie, so I guess it’s supposed to be a “black comedy”, which, in turn, means it’s “disturbing” and not funny.  Levinson is supposed to be a big deal producer / director, but I don’t follow that stuff (directors) much, so I’m not really bothered about it.  With the exception of Hitchcock and Spielberg, I don’t really “go” to a movie “because” of its director.  I guess I’m unusual that way, as it seems to matter to people I know (friends and family) a lot more than it’s ever mattered to me.  And, although I did see this movie during its original release, I have no recollection of the other three movies in the “Baltimore series”.
Anyway, this movie is kind of an adult / older version of a coming of age story.  I usually think of “coming of age” stories as teen-to-adult, not “Oh, shit!  I’m an adult.  Now what do I do with the rest of my life.”  Well, this is the latter.  It’s the story of six male friends (and the wife of one of the friends) who come together for the wedding of one of the other five (the friend played by Guttenberg).  The movie was a launching pad for some folks who later went on to have pretty well known careers for the rest of the ’80’s, including: Steve Guttenberg (the guy getting married), Daniel Stern (the guy already married), Ellen Barkin (his wife), Mickey Rourke (playing a macho hairdresser, unlike Warren Beatty in “Shampoo“), Kevin Bacon (as a young alcoholic with surprising intelligence jerk), Tim Daly (as the handsome guy in the group), Paul Reiser (as the “I have no idea why this guy is in this group of friends or this movie” character).
Now, you may be asking, why did this movie make Kevin’s list “for old time’s sake”?  Well, growing up, I used to follow the American football team based in Baltimore – the Colts – because I really liked their quarterback (Johnny Unitas) and one of their wide receivers (Raymond Berry).  The hooks (for me) in this movie are: before the Guttenberg character will marry his fiancé, she has to pass a test of knowledge about the history of the Colts and the NFL; the music played during the bride’s procession to the altar is the Colt’s theme / fight song; and, the wedding colors are Colt’s Blue and White.  The best line in the movie is when a female / spouse complains to one of the wedding guest characters about the wedding colors and he responds: “Hey, she should be grateful he doesn’t support the Steelers.”  For those of you who know little to nothing about American Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers colors are black and gold.  The “gold” has always looked more “yellow” to my eye, but it is supposed to be gold.  The fiancé narrowly fails the test, but he marries her anyway.  In my head, I can see a Steeler fan telling his fiancé their wedding colors will be Black and Gold…  Heck, I can see that now, let alone back in 1959!!
I don’t know if Americans “come of age” while sitting in diners anymore.  Perhaps they – diners – (like my own youth) are a thing of the past in these days of malls and franchise restaurants, but if you want to see a little slice of “Americana” as it was in earlier days (at least it is similar to how I remember late nights and early morning hours from my late teens and early twenties), then this is a pretty accurate snapshot and you should check out this movie.
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  A darker and more East Coast version of “American Graffiti“, without the cars / crusin’.  Good music, good writing and good character actors.
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On This Day In:
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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