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Outward Bound (1930)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  29 November 1930 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 333 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 6 critic

Later remade as "Between Two Worlds."



(by), (screen play)
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Title: Outward Bound (1930)

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Complete credited cast:
Beryl Mercer ...
Dudley Digges ...
Thompson - the Examiner (as Dudley Diggs)
Helen Chandler ...
Montagu Love ...
Lyonel Watts ...
Alison Skipworth ...
Mrs. Cliveden-Banks (as Allison Skipworth)


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Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 November 1930 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The play opened in New York on 7 January 1924 and in London on 17 September 1925. See more »


Version of Broadway Television Theatre: Outward Bound (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

A fascinating play,but this early talkie version shows its age
27 April 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Many years ago, I happened to catch a 1944 film called "Between Two Worlds" on television. Knowing that this was a remake of the seldom shown "Outward Bound", I was eager to see it,and I wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately, I have seen that version only once, but I do remember that the plot was striking and that Sydney Greenstreet, in a rare sympathetic role, was utterly memorable and just about stole the film.

Just this past Monday, I managed to finally see the original "Outward Bound". It turns out to be a beautifully photographed (by the great Hal Mohr) film with a striking use of light to create both an eerie effect and,at one point, a breathtaking otherworldly effect, something that Mohr would later win an Oscar for in the 1935 "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

As for the script, it is by far the best-written, most eloquent dialogue I have ever heard in an early talkie, rising very nearly to the level of poetry at times.The sound quality of the print that I saw(on TCM) was also quite good, with every word clearly intelligible.

But what unfortunately, and perhaps unavoidably, ages this movie, is the acting. Some of it (from Alison Skipworth) is quite good, and Leslie Howard, as Tom Prior, is excellent, as long as he is being a charming rogue.

But, the minute the plot starts to gain in intensity, his performance starts to fall apart and become unintentionally funny (something I definitely don't remember happening in "Between Two Worlds", where John Garfield played Tom Prior). There is a climactic moment, at which Howard finally guesses the secret of the voyage, when we can almost sense a first-act curtain descending, because of the way that Howard delivers his lines and the fact that the camera lingers on him several seconds as he stands frozen, a demented, uninentionally hilarious, pop-eyed expression on his face.

Other actors are also hammy, though they don't all reach the level that Howard does when he goes momentarily berserk. The lovers, played by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Helen Chandler, are actually worse, almost always wildly overacting, and Leslie Howard looks restrained compared to them. Montagu Love overdoes his pompous business tycoon,but he never quite gets to the point of being unbearable--he is actually supposed to be rather aggravating. Alec B.Francis is stilted and unremarkable as the ship's steward,and totally devoid of personality in comparison to the actor who would play his role in "Between Two Worlds"--Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus himself in "Miracle on 34th Street").

The little-known Lyonel Watts is nearly unbearably unctuous and even whiny as a defrocked priest. But Dudley Digges, another member of the original cast, is quite good in the stern and mysterious role of Thompson,the Examiner--he seems to be one of the few early film actors who understood that acting for film and live theatre are different.

The film's direction has all the staginess of an early talkie---only a few imaginative camera movements, but those eerie lighting effects would have been difficult to duplicate on a stage in that era. There is no music except for the opening and closing credits, and this also dates the film, although it adds to the spooky atmosphere.

"Outward Bound" is certainly worth checking out, but despite what Leonard Maltin says, it is an unfortunately dated film, and its remake,"Between Two Worlds" seems more preferable.

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