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Undying Friendship
Ron Oliver14 February 2006
Even after passing BEYOND TOMORROW, three old gentlemen continue to guard their two young friends.

Unfortunately rather obscure, this charming little film, bursting with the joy of life, brings a whimsicality as unexpected as finding a ten dollar bill on a snowy sidewalk.

Texas rodeo cowboy Richard Carlson and children's clinic worker Jean Parker are the two lonely people brought together on a cold New York City Christmas Eve by their new benefactors. They make a perfect couple, young & eager to embrace love - and each other - with open arms. Their enthusiasm at finding relief from their loneliness is genuine and imparts a special glow to the viewer.

The generous trio, who look after their new companions like benevolent uncles, are the very heart of the film. Cheery Irishman Charles Winninger, stalwart English major Sir C. Aubrey Smith, and melancholy Oklahoman Harry Carey, although dealing with their own secret sorrows, share their largess with complete strangers (whom they meet by a most curious stratagem) in order to share the Christmas Spirit. Elderly Maria Ouspenskaya gives a sweetly poignant performance as their beloved housekeeper; this tiny, wizened actress positively radiates joy as she steals her every scene.

Helen Vinson, as a singing temptress trying to corrupt Carlson, is the serpent in this garden. Silent Screen star Rod La Rocque, in one of his final films, gives support as Vinson's theatrical manager.

This would make wonderful Holiday viewing. In fact, one of the most delightful scenes in the film features a spirited singing of Jingle Bells in English, Russian, German & Italian.
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A Christmas Classic Given a Second Life
sbibb119 December 2006
Beyond Tomorrow is a film that should be considered a Christmas classic, but sadly is film which has slipped through the cracks. This film began production in 1939 at General Service Studios which was rented out by Academy Productions, Inc. The film was released in May 1940, certainly not during the Christmas season. The film was distributed by RKO. This film was considered to be a second feature, or B picture. The cast, which are excellent in the roles, are all supporting players in other films, but here they are given the lead. This film was known as an "orphan" film. The copyright on this film was allowed to expire when Academy Productions went out of business. Because this film didn't have major stars in it, the film was not widely replayed during the Christmas season, except in smaller local markets. Interestingly, "It's A Wonderful Life" really only became the classic film it is, because it too slipped into the public domain, and repeated TV viewings around the holidays insured that film would become a classic.

In the age of DVDs "Beyond Tomorrow" would soon find a new life, and would appear on any of a number of DVDs from various film studios. Most of these DVDs, regardless of price, would use the same source material, mainly the print stored at the Library of Congress as part of it's copyright deposit collection. The film print that most people are used to is very dark, with cuts and splices throughout.

In 2005 the film was put out in a colorized verison on DVD. The distributer of the film is listed as 20th Century Fox, however the film was colorized by a different company. The colorization, though a major improvement over techniques used in the 1980s, still has its limitations. The color is muddy, very unrealistic, and even distracting. The print that they colorized, while a different print then the ones used on most other DVD releases of this film, was still poor, and that is reflected in the colorized version. Additionally several short scenes were cut from the color verison, but these scenes are included as "deleted scenes" on the DVD. Had these scenes been left in the film the movie would have made a bit better sense.
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It wears its heart on its sleeve...but there's such conviction in the sentimentality that it plays out honestly
moonspinner5516 November 2008
A crazy-quilt of drama and emotions, initially with a holiday theme, about three elderly New York businessmen, workaholics who have unintentionally become hermits, finding themselves friendless on Christmas Eve; after throwing their wallets out into the street, they are greeted with two honest souls (a soft-spoken, singing cowboy and a kindergarten teacher) who eventually fall in love...and that's just the beginning of the story! The narrative takes on a bundle of different themes (unexpected death, youthful romance, the cause and effect of success, after-life fantasy), yet the end results are fairly smooth (although, after the forty-minute mark, the picture becomes almost a different movie altogether). Perhaps it wouldn't work so well if not for Charles Winninger's lovely performance as the twinkling Irishman who brings the young folks together. Winninger has a moment late in the proceedings, talking to the heavens, that is both blissfully serene and fraught with emotion--honest emotion, the kind Hollywood sometimes has trouble creating. The film's message is clear--if you give unto others, you're sure to receive--and if that strikes some viewers as corny, so be it. However, the filmmakers do wonders with several ideas which have since become old-hat, and the three codgers are fabulous characters who transcend some of the more obvious plot-developments. In fact, the movie is such a surprise, I would imagine more TV-airings might turn it into a holiday perennial. *** from ****
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Makes A Simple Idea Work Rather Well
Snow Leopard1 December 2005
This takes a simple idea and makes it work rather well, thanks to a good cast and just enough detail to create an atmospheric setting. Director A. Edward Sutherland moves the action along at a slow, deliberate pace, yet most of the time this fits in well with the nature of the characters and the story. The slow pace allows you to think a little more about the characters, and it often gives you a chance to anticipate what comes next, giving the story a feel of inevitability despite its more fanciful aspects.

The movie divides into two major sections. The first part is an upbeat series of vignettes, as the three elderly rich men befriend and help the two young lovers. The second part forms an interesting contrast, as the spirits of the three mentors, from the afterlife, try to help their young friends through some difficulties and trials. The light and ever-hopeful tone of the first half gives way to serious and often anxious drama in the second part.

The casting is a big part of making it work. As the older benefactors, Charles Winninger, C. Aubrey Smith, and Harry Carey form a good trio, working together believably and making for an interesting contrast with one another. Winninger as the happy optimist, Smith as the mellow realist, and Carey as the anguished pessimist all do a good job of bringing their characters to life. Likewise, Richard Carlson and Jean Arthur fill the roles of the young hopefuls sympathetically. Maria Ouspenskaya and Helen Vinson are also good in their parts.

For all that the story is openly sentimental, it generally avoids becoming moralistic or preachy. It just presents the characters for what they are, and allows the story and characters to speak for themselves. It's not one of the very best movies of its kind, but it's not really that easy to make any story like this work without becoming cloying or saccharine. So this is a creditable movie, and one that probably deserves to be a little better known.
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Sweet, sentimental
preppy-328 November 2004
Wonderful Christmastime fantasy about three old men getting young, handsome, hunky Richard Carlson to fall in love with sweet, young, beautiful Jean Parker. There's a lot more to it but I don't want to ruin it.

This is VERY low-budget and the story is overly sentimental and more than a little silly--but I have a soft spot in my heart for it. When I was young a local TV station showed this film around Christmastime for years. I haven't seen for almost 30 years but caught it on TCM. And i STILL love it!

Something about it has always captivated me. The whole movie was somewhat predictable but I kept watching enthralled. The acting was excellent by everybody (Carlson especially--and his singing is GREAT) and the story didn't get too goody-goody or syrupy. And it all ends on a very happy note. And damned if that ending didn't have me crying.

A wonderful Christmas movie--right up there with "A Christmas Story" and "It's a Wonderful Life". This film should really be rediscovered. Well worth seeing.

Unfortunately the print on TCM is in terrible condition. It's faded and jumpy but not unwatchable. Still worth seeing. I heard there's a COLORIZED print of this! Avoid that at all costs.
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Pleasantly eschewing the logical in favor of the sentimental.
rsoonsa14 December 2001
In this elaborately scripted fantasy, when three aging businessmen are unexpectedly left without guests on Christmas Eve, each tosses a wallet including a ten dollar bill from a window in hopes that someone honest will return one, and be asked to dinner, to make their holiday less lonely. Two of the three billfolds are returned, by a young man (Richard Carlson) and a young woman (Jean Parker) whose lives are acutely changed as they are welcomed not only to the table of the three gentlemen but also into their hearts and those of their two retainers (Maria Ouspenskaya and Alex Melesh). The young pair quite appropriately fall in love, only to have their beatitude marred when their sage benefactors die in a plane crash, but when the three promptly return to their town manse as apparitions, a bittersweet tale unfolds when Jimmy, the young man, falls prey to a siren (Helen Vinson) and the trio (C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Harry Carey) in their belief that they will not be received in Heaven until they assist the lad in untangling himself from the vixen, set out to do so. After two of the spirits wend their way to Elysium, the last (Winninger) decides to remain within the shadow of Earth, swooping about while attempting to assist his young former charges with their romantic travails. All boils down to an eminently satisfactory ending, with fine work by those involved, including splendid editing by Otto Ludwig and top-drawer art direction by Stephen Goosson, while cast member Ouspenskaya, as a noble émigré from Russia, is especially effective in this amiable film.
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Sprightly Help for the Lovelorn from the Great Beyond
Ralph Michael Stein15 August 2004
"Beyond Tomorrow" from 1940 begs to be re-discovered by today's somewhat jaded and special effects over-saturated audiences. Director A. Edward Sutherland knew his business and even if his films aren't top drawer Hollywood, they're not backlot dreck either. Thanks to Alpha Video this film was a mere $4.99 at Manhattan's J&R superstore.

Many movies feature a departed-from-this-mortal-coil soul aiding those left behind to find love or, perhaps, solve crimes. It's hardly a novel genre. Most are hokey even with top stars (like, say, Robin Williams). "Beyond Tomorrow" with effects pretty good for the times is a charmer from beginning to end.

Three gentlemen, getting on in years, are very successful engineers who live in a palatial town house in Manhattan. In addition to being business partners they're close friends. George Multon (Harry Carey) has a mysterious past act taking a ride on his conscience. Ramrod straight Alan Chadwick formerly served in a British regiment in India. Jovial Michael O'Brien (Charles Winninger) brings a blithe Irish spirit to the trio's Christmas Eve. The engineers have two housekeepers, Madame Tanya (the versatile actress of stage and screen as well as drama teacher Maria Ouspenskaya) and the butler Josef (Alex Melesh). The two Russian emigres have their own story: refugees from the demise of the Romanovs, Madame Tanya voices her thanks at being in America to which Josef concurs (these actors had no later problems with HUAC).

A novel ploy is hatched by the tuxedoed engineers to brighten up their Christmas Eve. Each hurls a wallet with his business card and a $10 bill to the snowy sidewalk outside their manse. The idea is that whoever returns the wallet and money will be invited to dine in sumptuous luxury.

An actress, Arlene Terry (Helen Vinson) takes the money and throws the wallet to the ground. This is the real beginning of fantasy in the flick as such behavior didn't then and never could happen in Gotham. But a handsome guy from Texas, a would-be crooner, James Houston (Richard Carlson), and a nice gal, Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker), return the billfolds. (This was a decade before Carlson became the nation's and the FBI's hero as the patriot who penetrated the Evil Empire's domestic operation as shown in "I Led Three Lives." Carlson enjoyed a prolific if not artistically important screen and TV career.)

Wouldn't you know that neither had any plans for Christmas Eve.

So the two single folks, alone on Christmas Eve in New York, meet at the old codgers' roost and, of course, an immediate attraction ensues. Amused and moved by the instant romance formed under their roof, the engineers more or less adopt the couple.

But then...tragedy strikes. Ignoring the ominous prediction of disaster from Madame Tanya, the trio fly off to get new business and perish when their plane hits a mountain. Everyone's grief stricken.

But, at least for a while, the three dead guys come home to try and manage affairs. And they find a big problem. Discovered as a singing sensation Jim is at risk of being seduced by the divorced (1940s signal for "Loose Woman Dead Ahead") Arlene Terry (remember, we already know she's a snake because she didn't return the wallet).

Poor Jean is increasingly left alone while Jim pursues his career and Arlene pursues him. The ghosts lament his approaching indiscretion but can they save the day?

Much of the story is predictable but the acting is first-rate. Winninger's O'Brien will capture the heart of all who enjoy lovable Irishmen with deep hearts and a hardy brogue.

Jean Parker is adorable as the big-hearted kid who finds and almost loses love in the Big City.

This wasn't a big budget film but for the time the spectral characters are pretty state-of-the-art. The outcome is never in doubt but the trip there is charming.

Readily available on DVD: go for it.

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Colorized and cut up
BijouBob8mm15 November 2004
Fox Home Entertainment has once again attempted to improve upon a classic. Last year it was THE GREAT RUPERT, which the studio decided to colorize and release under the title THE Christmas WISH. (Fortunately, the B&W original--with the new title, alas--was included as a bonus.) Now, BEYOND TOMORROW gets similar treatment. However, in addition to colorizing and retitling the film (BEYOND Christmas), the company has also chopped out about 5 minutes of material from the movie. (Made even more obvious by the fact that the footage shows up on TV and on all previous VHS & DVD versions, including the bargain bin copies.) Granted, they include the material in the Extras as "deleted footage," but that only begs the question, "What was the point of deleting it at this time, to begin with?" Some of the deletions, such as the sequence where Arlene Terry's ex-boyfriend clashes with her new leading man, destroy the emotional impact of the showdown between the two men and Arlene during the film's finale. To first-time viewers unfamiliar with the film, the jilted lover's appearance at the end comes almost out of the blue, causing confusion as to who he is. In spite of these alterations/deletions, the box proudly announces the film is fully restored. Sorry, Fox, but the term "restoration" does NOT mean alteration or condensation. (For those wanting to see the complete film as it was meant to be seen, check out the VCI DVD.) And with the various advances in such technology, it is amazing to see how artificial the colorization still looks, at least on this film. (To this day, perhaps the most realistic colorization remains the process used on select episodes of Walt Disney's ZORRO TV series from the 1950s. If colorization is a process that has to still be practiced, then it needs to be perfected. There is no excuse for the color quality on this, especially considering how long ago it was that Disney colorized ZORRO and some of the early Mickey Mouse shorts, to convincing effect.) On a more positive note, however, the Fox release does include some vintage theatrical Christmas shorts, such as Bob Hope and Bette Davis pitching Christmas Seals.
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Sentimental, hokey, corny - and entirely charming
bronty25 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Beyond Tomorrow" is most definitely a child of its time: as one user has already commented, most definitely because of its theme it would be a lovely combo with "The Wizard Of Oz", released the year before, though it hasn't a tenth of the budget of the latter and isn't at all a musical (despite 2 or 3 songs performed). I believe a comment was made regarding its almost film noir look and that's spot-on, though, of course, the idea isn't to display shadows for the sake of creating drama as much as it is for helping to hide a small budget. I've no idea if this was a popular film in its day (I've the feeling it may not have been, due perhaps to that aforementioned budget) but one can easily imagine it deeply affecting a nation torn by war and loss of loved ones, with its images of Christmas, selfless love, death, rebirth, and those who've died being called to heaven. The tale, as already told by some, is about three moneyed gentlemen in New York City who decide, on a whim, to test how true of heart their fellow denizens are by impetuously tossing their wallets out onto the sidewalk, then waiting to see who brings them back. One fails to be returned, picked up as it is by a slick, round-heeled woman, a radio performer, who takes the money inside and tosses the wallet over her shoulder with nary a second thought; the other two are quickly brought back fully intact to their owners by a tall, handsome crooner, Jimmy, and a quiet young woman, Jean, respectively. Upon seeing one another, it's love at first sight, a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by the three older men and their devoted maid and butler, refugees from Europe. Soon, they decide to do what they can to encourage this romance between these two good souls, who are quickly engaged. Then, despite a warning from their maid, they take a plane for business purposes...which crashes. The young couple and the two devoted servants are devastated, but three old men return as ghosts (despite limited funds, the special effects are entirely successful), not realizing at first that they've died, though the maid senses their presence (the only one who does, as a matter of fact). They soon decide to continue doing what they can to help guide the young lovers (who cannot hear or see them but who react to their suggestions, similar in style to the gimmicks in "A Guy Named Joe" and its remake, "Always") but Jimmy is soon 'discovered' by the scheming woman who had found the first wallet (and taken its contents) and falls under her spell, deserting his bride-to-be. Alas, in the midst of helping their two protégés, one by one the old men are 'called'; the first, a lifelong cynic, to a dark, dark place; the other, to heaven, when his long-dead son comes to take him home. The third, Mike, however, refuses to go until he can fully restore the union of the couple whom he knows should be together. No sooner does this occur when the radio performer's ex-husband follows his former wife and the Jimmy to a lounge, where he shoots and kills them both. Soon, Jimmy joins Mike as a ghost, distraught at both the pain he's caused Jean by leaving her and by dying so suddenly, but Mike offers a word of wisdom and almost instantly he is called home again; this time he doesn't refuse - he only asks that Jimmy be returned to the land of the living, a request that is granted, and as the film closes, Mike is joined by the friend who had originally gone to a very dark place and together they climb, literally, the stairway to heaven. Corny? Oh, yes. Hokey? Sure. Sentimental as all get-out. But the film is unbelievably charming and so openly wears its pure, little heart on its sleeve, that you can't help but be carried away by it. At fade-out, I couldn't help but imagine how the last few minutes (those images of death and rebirth and the belief that the dead might be safe and at peace) must have touched audiences living through that time of war, especially at Christmastime, when the absence and loss of fathers, husbands, sons, and lovers had to have been more painful than it already was. As the trio of helpful old men, harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, and especially Charles Winninger (as Mike), are exactly the kind of men you'd love to have as either a grandfather or mentor: warm, loving, wealthy (in all manners of speaking), and as kind as can be. As the young couple they look out for, Richard Carlson and Jean Parker are sweetness and light personified; sure, they may be somewhat TOO good but you just can't help but root for them. (And was New York City EVER this populated by such honest, good-hearted people?) I found my DVD copy, believe it or not, in a dollar store; apparently, a number of older films and TV shows of varying quality are being processed to DVD especially for dollar stores, so, as you can imagine, picture & sound quality - though surprisingly OK - are average, and with neither chapter stops or extras. Still, in whatever form you can find this lovely little fantasy-romance, please take advantage of it. You'll be rewarded with a film that just might become a perennial Christmas favorite for the entire family.
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They say success can come too soon... well, now it's time for this film to gain some fame!
crispy_comments24 December 2005
How is it possible that I have never seen (or heard of) this movie before?! Thanks to TCM I was able to check it out and I must say - this should be a holiday tradition, shown on TV as regularly as "It's A Wonderful Life". Although it's not quite up to that level of classic perfection, "Beyond Tomorrow" gives one a similarly uplifting feeling. The ending makes you feel glad to be alive...and less afraid of death.

I won't give away the story - just watch. Some may say it's naive and sentimental, but I feel sorry for anyone who's such a hard-hearted cynic (and what are you doing watching Christmas movies anyway?) So many movies try to be "heartwarming" and fail, coming off as phoney and emotionally manipulative. It's good to see one as sincere and genuinely moving as this one.

It's a shame the print isn't better quality, despite some recent restoration work. How such a great film could be allowed to deteriorate, I'll never understand. It's especially shameful when you think of how many other, older movies are in better shape. I hope the TCM print gets released on DVD, since it seems to be an improvement over the cheapie DVDs out there. This film deserves to be better known, and should be preserved so that it can be seen...beyond tomorrow.
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Sentimental fantasy
tonypapaleo8 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I found this little gem buried in one of those 50-movie megapacks of public domain movies put out by Treeline Films; you can probably find it on any number of DVDs from the PD houses. It is not something a viewer is going to actively seek out, it apparently has no reputation that brings it to the attention of cinephiles, and that's a shame. Released in 1940 by Academy Productions, which disappeared soon after, (If anyone knows what happened to it, if it possibly merged with other poverty-row studios in the 40's, I'd like to hear about it); the film does disguise its low-budget origins expertly behind atmospheric photography and skillfull editing and direction.

The story begins with Milton, Chadwick and O'Brien, wealthy but friendless owners of a engineering firm, living (together!) in a mansion, presumably in New York. It's Christmas Eve, and through a naive plot device end up inviting two young strangers to have dinner with them. The girl works at a pediatric clinic, the boy is from Texas and apparently broke and wandering the streets. They are both easily convinced to staying for dinner despite being lured into the mansion under questionable circumstances, and she ends up letting the young stranger walk her home. Such is the sensibility of a movie from 1940.

Back then, we still had the Great Depression, as uneasiness over possible war made a movie-goer look for a positive feeling towards humanity. If it can be argued (and I think I will) that 1939's "Wizard of Oz" pandered to desire for isolationism ("There's no place like home"), then 1940's "Beyond Tomorrow" offers reasons to go out of your way, even over-extend yourself to help another human being in need. In fact, I would recommend showing this film in a double feature with "Oz."

This movie does this in an almost film noir style (darkness helps disguise the limited budget and optical effects). All the characters are come from easily identified stereotypes, and the use of familiar character actors, including the sublime Maria Ouspenskaya, creates a visual short-hand so we recognize who they are immediately. The three old gentlemen all come from the same font, but each has their different origins and characteristics to portray distinct human qualities. The most interesting is Harry Carey's George, troubled by a dark deed in in his past that calls into question his admission through the Pearly Gates.

When the three old codgers are killed in plane crash, their ghosts remain here for a while to finish guiding their young couple through the standard plot: They love each other, he is tempted by success and a bad woman, a jealous husband (it could be her ex-, that's what she said, and in 1940 we would have taken that at face value, but in 2004 I would expect that to be a lie); he needs to be shown that the good girl is one he should be with.

The side story regarding the two Russian emigres Josef and Madame Tanya is deftly sketched in with a few key shots of family photos, a war medal and a conversation about their past, but also fleshes out our knowledge about the three men whose generosity enables them to survive. In true stereotypical old-lady-from-Europe form, Mme. Tanya presages the airplane crash, but her warnings are ignored. She is also the most sensitive to the presence of the three spirits in the house.

The script is credited to two women, Mildred Cram and Adele Comandini. Ms. Cram was something of specialist in the extremely sentimental tearjerkers, her best known story idea being used in 1957's "An Affair To Remember." Ms. Comandini was active from the silents right up until the 1992 TV-remake of "Christmas in Connecticut," but none of her efforts seem to be as weird or fantastic as "Beyond Tomorrow."

If you decide to sit and watch this film, you will enter into an agreement with the characters that the over-the-top sentimentality and naivete is OK, we can bend some rules of logic, and that we can learn something simple: It's perfectly fine to help anyone without question, even forego your own trip to Heaven.
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In Business Together In Life And Death
bkoganbing27 November 2010
RKO Pictures eschewed the use of stars in making this very charming fantasy about three business partners who have three very different personalities who help a pair of young lovers they meet in life and in death and Beyond Christmas.

Harry Carey is the cynical one, all business and a potential Scrooge if he keeps going on. Charles Winninger and C. Aubrey Smith have more faith in human nature.

In a friendly bet they turn out to be two thirds right. The trio is gathered at Maria Ouspenskaya's home for dinner and they decide to throw out wallets with a $10.00 bill and each one's business card inside. Sure enough two out of the three wallets are returned by Jean Parker and Richard Carlson and as everyone gathers for dinner, it's obvious that Carlson and Parker are smitten with each other.

It might have been better if a real singer had been cast in Carlson's role, you can't miss the fact that Carlson is being dubbed. But he is an aspiring singer who gets a break on a radio program and becomes an overnight hit.

After that Carey, Smith, and Winninger are all killed in a plane crash, but they linger on earth to help Carlson and Parker over the rough spots.

The roughest spot is Helen Vinson who is playing one of her patented other woman roles. She's a Broadway actress with her eye on Carlson and he's taken with her, a fact upsetting to Parker.

As you can see the plot has already taken a few interesting turns, but the end is quite beautiful, quite sentimental, and life affirming for those who believe we do have a purpose in our existence.

When you've got three consummate professionals as the business partners who don't go out of business even in the next world, you can't help but have an enjoyable fantasy film without pretense. The kind they really don't make any more.
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Sentimental Sweet Melodrama
Syl18 November 2013
I really wanted to see Maria Oupenskaya, a Russian American actress, who trained Ruth White among others. Tragically she died in a fire. This film is the first I was able to see. Back in the studio system days, films like this were done quickly and more efficiently. If anything, the quality of writing isn't great. Still the cast do a terrific job with the script. The Christmas dinner and party was delightful to watch. The tragic loss of the three elderly wealthy men who return as spirits who guide the young honest couple back to each other. The film might have quality issues with the DVD. Still the film is worth seeing at least once and should be aired around the Christmas holidays.
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"I believe … that the soul of Man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this."
joposa23 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I find myself watching this over and over again around Christmas time. It's an oldie, older than "It's a Wonderful Life", but has yet to become a Christmas classic. A few years ago there was an official DVD release, which changes the title from "Beyond Tomorrow" to "Beyond Christmas", no doubt to make it more marketable as a holiday movie. It shows the original B&W version and a colorized version. In this release they show "deleted" scenes as a special feature, but these scenes are included as part of the feature in almost every other DVD compilation which features it, as well as TV airings, so the makers of this DVD distort the meaning of the term "deleted scenes".

Three aging, well-to-do engineers are spending Christmas Eve in the spacious NY mansion which they apparently share, and also work out of. Also living there is a kindly former Russian countess, Madame Tanya (Maria Ouspenskaya) who, like Josef the butler (Alex Melesh), was exiled after the Bolshevik revolution. The three men are bored and lonely after their expected guests cancel, so Michael O'Brien (Charles Winninger), the jolly Irishman, comes up with a scheme to deliberately toss out their wallets, each containing ten dollars (a fair sum in 1940), to see if anyone brings the wallets back. The two that are returned belong to Michael and Allen "Chad" Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith), the friendly Englishman. The other wallet that was not returned is found and kept by a woman, a starlet named Arlene Terry (Helen Vinson), who later emerges as something of a villainess. Appropriately enough, that wallet belonged to the melancholy Oklahoman George Vale Melton (veteran screen star Harry Carey), perhaps the most interesting character. More on that later.

Michael's and Chad's wallets are returned, respectively, by a Texan named (what else?) James Houston (Richard Carlson, whose singing here is far better than his otherwise fine acting, assuming that's really him singing), and a lady from New Hampshire, Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker). They all become instant friends, and Jimmy and Jean become instant lovers. A few months later, a plane crash, apparently foreseen by Madame Tanya, takes the lives of the three engineers, who return as ghosts in an effort to help James and Jean, and to keep James from being led astray by the duplicitous Arlene Terry as he pursues a singing career. Along the way, George is summoned to the darkness by an ominous voice. In life, he was in fact a good-hearted soul, but tried his best to hide it, as witnessed in the Christmas Eve scene where he delights in the walking stick given him by Michael, until Chad sees him, then George changes his expression and calls it "A lotta childish nonsense!". He is haunted by an incident from his past, the nature of which is not made entirely clear, but there are a few clues . Earlier, he suspects that the Christmas Eve guests who cancelled on them did so because of him and this incident, the Shreve (sp?) case, "acquitted". As he is summoned by this voice, he says he did what needed doing, and has no regrets. Later Madame Tanya provides another clue when she tells Jimmy that George lost everything over a woman like Arlene. Chad, too, is called, in his case to heaven to be with his wife and son, who preceded him in death. When Michael is called, he chooses to remain on Earth to help lead Jimmy on the right path and back to Jean, even though he is told that he will wander the earth forever. Of course, after a near-tragedy, he eventually succeeds in his mission, and as a result of some prodding by his late mother, he is called home again, and is joined by George, who has returned from the darkness after working out all of his issues.

A little hokey? Maybe, but how realistic can portrayals of the afterlife be expected to look? That there is an afterlife appears to be a central theme of the movie, as witnessed by the Benjamin Franklin quote that appears after the opening credits, and that gives this review its title. A feel-good movie that deserves to be a holiday classic.
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BEYOND TOMORROW (A. Edward Sutherland, 1940) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI3 January 2008
Apart from "essential" Christmas movie fare like adaptations of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol", Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), George Seaton's original MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) and Bob Clark's A Christmas STORY (1983), there is also an assortment of fairly obscure but equally pleasant films dealing with the Yuletide season and this review concerns one of them. Incidentally, the film has received various budget DVD incarnations over the years as a result of its public domain status but, ironically enough, the official DVD release from Fox mistreats the film threefold: most bafflingly it offers a cut version (when the budget disc I watched was complete), the film is also available in a redundant computer colorized version and, most ludicrously, retitled it as BEYOND Christmas!

Anyway, the plot is simple enough: three old, wealthy but lonely bachelors make a bet with one another that if they each throw their wallets, containing just one $10 note, out of the window into the streets, they will eventually be returned by whoever finds them. As it happens, only two of them come back and the men invite the persons in question to sit at their Christmas dinner. The bachelors are winningly played by cheery Charles Winninger, bemused C. Aubrey Smith and grumpy Harry Carey while the impoverished lucky diners are silver-voiced country hick Richard Carlson and demure nurse Jean Parker; the old gentlemen, then, are doted upon by their deposed Russian émigré housekeeper Maria Ouspenskaya. Romance soon blossoms between Carlson and Parker but, after the tragic death of the three old men in a mountaintop airplane crash, Carlson soon falls in with Helen Vinson, a man-hungry divorcée who also happens to be a radio star and soon sets Carlson on his way to become the current hit crooner of the airwaves...

Unfortunately, the second half of the film is an unconvincing, bland depiction of unexpected stardom going to one's head but BEYOND TOMORROW is ultimately redeemed by the sensitive portrayals of the four veteran character actors and the uplifting fantasy elements so prevalent during wartime, given that the three old gentlemen return from their graves as ghosts to guide the straying Carlson back to ever-loyal Parker's rightful path. Schmaltzy, yes but it was rather an unexpectedly perceptive touch to have the ghosts still preoccupied by their earthly demons – Smith re-uniting with his dead soldier son in the afterlife, Carey still being the loner tormented by "the darkness" and Winninger, of course, literally wanting more than anything else to reunite the two young lovers.
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Great for Christmas, a completely charming fantasy which could only be made in the 40's
trails36920 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
We begin with three old business men on Christmas Eve. George Melton of Oklahoma, played by Harry Carey, is in "bah humbug" Scrooge mode absorbed with business planning. C.Aubrey Smith's "Chad" is from Britain, and is not yet particularly keen about the holiday. But in comes spunky Irishman Michael O'Brien played by Charles Winninger loaded with gifts and Christmas Spirit. This first scene gradually develops into complete joy. The gentlemen wager on a game that tests honesty which brings in the young couple destined to be lovers. The huge surprise is young Richard Carlson's voice! (I want to see/listen to the four other singing films Carlson made about this period.) He beautifully sings "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" to Actress Jean Parker who plays Jean Lawrence, before we hear Jingle Bells sung in a variety of languages. You will be totally into the Christmas Spirit when the first act ends. Then, rather slowly, with a lack of suspense but an overload of charm we enter the world of fantasy and Hollywood mystic theology. How are all the old guys going to die? We have to have a plot device that gets rid of them all at once. You won't have much trouble guessing what is going happen next when actress Maria Ouspenskaya pleads with them to take the train and not the plane. Mercifully you won't have long to wait to see if you guessed correctly.

"Beyond Tomorrow" switches gears as we move into the meaning of the title. There will be ghosts. The lad with the heart of gold and the golden voice will be tempted, lured toward purgatory. Mystic fantasy visuals will effectively dazzle, even though low budget. The mood the story needs is achieved perfectly and you'll be glad the film was made sixty-eight years ago and not today. Welcome to drama in an imagined dimension no-one who can read this has yet entered.

I founded this DVD at a dollar store!
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A holiday film with dark edges
jjnxn-116 May 2013
Charming if odd fantasy quasi holiday film. For something supposedly designed to be heartwarming there are an awful lot of dark edges to this film. What it does have going for it is three terrific actors, C. Aubrey Smith, Harry Carey and Charles Winninger front and center in the sort of spotlight roles that character actors were afforded back then in B movies of this type. The general story is hokum but played with an infectious twinkle in the eye by the three gentlemen and earnestness by the two young leads. Keep in mine while watching this is a low budget affair because any special effects used are rudimentary at best but it still takes you along thanks to the skillful performances of the players.
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Hereafter Christmas
wes-connors13 January 2013
On Christmas Eve, three wealthy old New York City gentlemen decide to test the spirit of the holiday. Each throws his wallet from a window, containing $10 and a business card. Surprisingly nor not, two wallets are picked up by generous souls. One woman assumes the owner wouldn't miss $10, and gives the money away. The other two wallets are returned, in person. Our first responder is handsome Richard Carlson (as James "Jimmy" Houston), an aspiring singer from Texas. Next is pretty Jean Parker (as Jean Lawrence), a single woman from New Hampshire. They are invited to dinner and, well...

Not surprisingly, Mr. Carlson and Ms. Parker fall in love. But you may not guess what else is going to happen. "Beyond Tomorrow" is full of surprises. The old pros helping the young couple are sentimental Charles Winninger (as Michael "Mike" O'Brien), sensible C. Aubrey Smith (as Alan Chadwick) and cynical Harry Carey (as George Melton). Loyal Russian housekeeper Maria Ouspenskaya (as Madame Tanya) joins Mr. Winninger in helping save Carlson from seductive Helen Vinson (as Arlene Terry), who picked up the other wallet. It's all densely plotted, overly sentimental, well produced and nicely cast.

******* Beyond Tomorrow (5/10/40) A. Edward Sutherland ~ Richard Carlson, Jean Parker, Charles Winninger, Maria Ouspenskaya
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A wonderfully touching film, Memorable !
oscar-3523 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoiler/plot- Beyond Tomorrow Beyond Christmas, 1940. Three eccentric bachelors businessmen decide to help a couple during Christmas time by testing their honesty. The couple fall in love, but the three business men die in a plane crash unexpectedly. Their three ghost come back to continue their help with the loving couple through their career trials.

*Special Stars- Richard Carlson, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Harry Carey, Maria Ouspenskaya *Theme- Do what is right and good things will happen to you.

*Trivia/location/goofs- B & W, Notice the many special and complex lighting tricks used to change the scenes from daytime to night during the Christmas holidays and the heavenly scenes. The director was a top director of photography of note, Lee Garmes.

*Emotion- A wonderfully touching film about people helping and being nice to people. Quite a wonderful plot incorporating the Christmas season and good works to others. Drama and pathos build towards the end of the film. Especially good film about human nature and good will.
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Charming holiday classic
earlytalkie21 October 2012
I found this film when I received a catalog from Alpha Video advertising it. The film (properly called Beyond Tomorrow) sounded interesting, so I ordered it. This is a perfectly charming story from classic Hollywood which explores human emotion on a fairly deep level. Here is an unsung holiday film which is different. A B-list cast to be sure, but the players here are at their best and create unforgettable characters. This will bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat unless you are a true Scrooge. The film quality is what you'd expect from Alpha. An unrestored 16mm print, but very viewable and at 84 minutes, it is preferred to the colorized version which is 5 minutes shorter for no reason that makes any sense. I've not seen this version, but the cuts generate some continuity issues from what I've read. This is available very inexpensively from a variety of public-domain companies. If you like classic Hollywood, this belongs in your collection.
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Film has something about it
opusv528 December 2011
I taped this around Christmas 2009 and have since made a habit of watching it on Boxing Day (Dec. 26). While it's not a great film, it's imaginative and likable, with nice performances from Winninger, Aubrey Smith, Ouspenskaya, et al. The idea of an afterlife that can be benevolent and not particularly religious seems a bit unusual for Hollywood. The spirit of generosity at Christmas and afterward is not too gooey and makes the film an overall feel-good experience. One note: when the estranged husband of Helen Vinson shoots her and Carlson, the character played by Charles Winninger is able to save the young man, who will doubtless be reunited with Jean Parker, but not Vinson. She is judged more harshly than justly. In this sense, the film could have kept within the bounds of generosity: though superficial and selfish, she didn't deserve to be killed. Nonetheless, it's a period piece nice to visit when there's snow on the ground.
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Life is worth dying for
sol121816 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Sentimental little Christmas movie involving three life long friends who in trying to pep up their somewhat lonely Christmas Eve get together in roping in two young strangers who make their holiday season a lot better and far more rewarding. So much better that they just refuse to go back to their maker, and heaven, after they ended up dying in a tragic plane crash.

The three old guys Irish Michael O'Brien, Charles Winninger, British Allan "Chad" Chadwick, A.Aubrey Smith, and American businessman George Melton, Harry Carey,end up bonding with their unexpected Christmas guests Texas cowboy James Huston,Richard Carlson, and children clinic volunteer Jean Lawrence, Jean Parker, who end up becoming their lifelong,and even beyond life, friends.

Becoming almost inseparable both James and Jean drift apart when their three old benefactors, with Michael leaving James a cache of money to continue his fledging singing career, unexpectedly perish in a plane crash. Being stung by success, as the new American Idol, James gets hooked up with Broadway singing sensation Arlene Terry,Helen Vinson, who's just nuts about the handsome but shy Texas cowboy. This has Michael, who's stuck in the world between life and death, try to somehow show the love sick James what a mistake he made in tossing his one and only true love, on earth and beyond, Jean away for the manipulated and scheming Arlene. Both Chad and George also hang out in what seems to be the Astral World, an existence between life and death,for a short time until they finally get their bearings straight and ascend to heaver. Chad ends up going to heaven with his dead son David, William Bakewell, who was killed in the Great War or WWI. The cranky and penny pinching George finally found out, after his death, that money isn't everything if your in a place, the world in between life and death, where its not worth the paper that it's printed on and also sees the light, heaven, by the time the film is over.

Only Michael gets involved with the world of the living in his attempt to save James from a fate worse then death in both losing Jean as well as his life by getting himself involved with Arlene. James in fact does see the light after he's shot and killed by Arlene's drunk and jealous ex-husband-Mr. Terry I presume-and is given a second chance to return back to earth, and life, to reunite with the girl that he left behind Jean.

Nothing really new here even though the movie predates the far more popular and very similar Frank Capra Christmas Classic "It's a Wonderful Life" by some six years. The film "Beyond Tomorrow" nevertheless still packs quite a wallop in movies about life after death and what it's, our very meager existence, really all about in the grand scheme of things.

There's also in the film the two Czarist Russian survivors of the Commnist Revolution Madame Tanya, Maria Ouspenskay, who's the only one in the movie who can see or sense the three dead plane crash victims and her stuffy and stoned faced butler Josef, Alex Melesh. It's Josef who at times when his face was frozen stiff looked like the newest member, even though he never was a US President, of Mount Rushmore.
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Worth seeing for Charles Winninger & Maria O.
jpaulteel23 July 2005
Pleasant tale with strange theology. If you suspend logic and just accept the odd spiritual aspects of the storyline you will enjoy this film. Charles Winninger and Maria O. invest themselves completely and are worth watching. Richard Carlson is appealing and believable as a country boy in the big city - well done. Not sure who did the singing for him but would like to know if anyone else does. As a Christian I found the Hollywood theology rather strange but not surprisingly so. Senimentality is not what I think of. Just can the whole thing. It's more work than it's worth. I wish I could just back out of this whole review but they demand 10 lines. Enjoy!
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A Middling Melodrama
gavin69429 December 2016
The ghosts of three elderly industrialists killed in an airplane crash return to Earth to help reunite a young couple whom they initially brought together.

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 characters 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. All seven actors received a "Featuring" billing after the title. The remaining supporting cast included Rod La Rocque, a top leading man of the silent era, now reduced to playing minor supporting roles.

In retrospect, the movie is interesting for its cast, but never really rises above a B-movie. It is a bit too melodramatic, and doesn't stand out as a great film in its own right and not a great Christmas film. I have read that some people have made this a Christmas tradition, but I just can't imagine doing this. With the dozens of great Christmas movies, I wouldn't put this in the top 50.
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Matchmaker bachelors finish their task after death
SimonJack28 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Modern audiences are used to horror films in which the dark side of the afterlife comes back to haunt houses and torment people. A few films deal with love and redemption, and some have been comedies. But, in the first three-fourths of the 20th century, films about the afterlife most often were stories with a deeper look at what happens after we die. These usually touched on Judeo-Christian beliefs in heaven and hell.

Such is "Beyond Christmas" (aka, "Beyond Tomorrow"), a 1940 RKO movie that purposely did not have a cast with top stars. Indeed, the cast includes half a dozen actors who share the lead. Among them are some very new faces and some very old ones. The latter – including the three male leads by top supporting actors of Hollywood, are one very good reason to watch this movie. Charles Winninger as Michael O'Brien, C. Aubrey Smith as Allan Chadwik, and Harry Carey as George Melton give excellent performances. These three gents played some of the finest supporting roles in major films of the Hollywood golden years. Then, add Russian-born supporting actors Maria Ouspenskaya and Alex Melesh, and one has a film with real talent appeal.

I agree with other reviewers about the poor quality of this film. However, I watched the colorized version and enjoyed it as well. I also watched the deleted scenes at the end, and agree with those who think the film was too choppy and loosely connected. Inclusion of a couple of those scenes would have helped greatly. I can't understand why they were cut in the first place.

A quotation from Benjamin Franklin at the start of the film sets the stage for the audience to understand that the film would involve the afterlife, faith and belief in God. That quotation reads, "I believe … that the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life, respecting its conduct in this." Indeed, that is an aspect of eternity that plays heavily in the film, especially with the character of George, who apparently killed a person in the past.

A couple of very good lines stand out. At one point, George says, "To be born innocent is natural, but to die pure of heart – that's a gift." Michael says to James, "Sometimes we have to go through the darkness alone, before we can see the light." At times, Christian beliefs seem muddled. Michael says to George, "George, no matter what you did, if you're sorry for it, no power of darkness can touch you. If you'll only say you're sorry, George." George replies, "While I didn't mean to do it, I have no remorse. I never did have. And, I'd be a hypocrite to say I'm sorry now." In this scene, he goes off into the darkness.

In the afterlife, Michael is called last to heaven. But he wants to remain and try to help reunite the young couple, James and Jean, played by Richard Carlson and Jean Parker. Christian belief from the earliest times is that the dead in purgatory and heaven can and do pray for those still on earth. Just as living people ask one another to pray for them in illness, or personal or family problems, Catholics and others pray to ask deceased parents, friends and other loved ones to pray for them. The Catholic belief on this, with Biblical sources, is referred to as the communion of saints. Toward the end of the film, Michael quotes scripture when he says, "There's more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repented …" (Luke 15: 7, 10).

My DVD also has some bonus materials that I found interesting and enjoyed watching. One is a video of Bob Hope promoting the use of Christmas Seals. I remember very well that we used to buy these at Christmas time to help fight tuberculosis. Another is a video of Bette Davis urging people to buy war bonds as Christmas gifts for older children. In addition, last, there is a video segment with Christmas drawings and a band and chorus singing some religious Christmas carols.
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