Release year: 1940
Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Screenwriter: Adele Comandini, Mildred Cram
Starring: Harry Carrey, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Alex Melesh, Maria Ouspenskaya, Richard Carlson, Jean Lawrence
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #183, week 51 2017
When their guests for Christmas cancel at the last moment, millionaire friends Michael (Winninger), George (Carey) and Allan (Smith) throw a wallet each out the window, determined to invite any honest soul, who returns with them, to Christmas dinner. Just when they are about to give up, James (Carlson) and Jean (Lawrence) turn up and after a nice evening the two befriend the three elderly men. much to the delight of the benefactors, the two fall in love. But disaster is luring around the corner.
The story of Beyond Tomorrow is a simple one and one that brings thoughts to Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. For the first half, the story is a delightful fuzzy-warm tale of how the interactions of the three gentlemen results in the love between two young people. But halfway through it takes a turn when a plane accident leaves the three men killed and returning as ghosts. At first everything is good between them, but when a snake enters paradise in form of Arlene Terry, a cold Helen Vinson (The Wedding Night, 1935), a downward spiral begins that leaves the three ghosts struggling to make things right again. The three gentlemen are played by the character actors Carey (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939), Smith (Rebecca, 1940) and Winninger (State Fair, 1945) in whose capable hands the movie is lifted and who work very well together, making the long friendship ring true. As the young lovers, Carlson (Creature From the Black Lagoon, 1954) and Lawrence (Little Women, 1933) are sweet and sympathetic. The last half has an anxious feeling about it, but is warmed by the first half and a touching ending. A lesser known ‘Christmas classic’, Beyond Tomorrow is a simple movie with a great cast and a hot toddy-feeling suitable for the Holiday.
The original copyright holder failed to renew the film’s copyrights, meaning this is now public domain.
Structured as a B film, the production did not engage any stars who would receive billing above the title, relying instead on a quartet of veteran character actors, Charles Winninger, Maria Ouspenskaya, C. Aubrey Smith and Harry Carey, second-tier young leads Richard Carlson and Jean Parker as well as “other woman” Helen Vinson, a minor lead/second lead during early and mid thirties, here approaching the end of her career
The original print has been digitally remastered and preserved by the National Film Museum, Incorporated.