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Between Two Worlds
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Between Two Worlds More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Talky, but good

Author: preppy-3 from United States
25 September 2000

Interesting little film about a bunch of very diverse people dying and being judged whether to go to Heaven or Hell. The idea isn't new, and the script is way too talky, but the beautiful setting and superb acting more than compensates. With the exception of Garfield, Henreid and Greenstreet, there are no big names in the cast, but everyone is good and they all get their moments to shine. Worth seeing.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Development of OUTWARD BOUND

Author: theowinthrop from United States
27 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The basic story stays the same as Sutton Vane created for the stage in the 1920s. A pair of young lovers agree to die together - the young man sealing their apartment and turning on the gas so that death will be relatively painless. Suddenly the couple find themselves on a fog enshrouded ocean liner with a handful of people on board. These include a vicar, a steward, a snobby socialite, a millionaire mover and shaker, a cynical young man, and a kindly little old woman. As the story unfolds we realize these folk are dead - and they are headed for a final destination on that boat. They will, however, like all good travelers, have to be okay-ed or sent to the proper place by a "customs" official. Only the proper place here will be heaven or hell, and it is based on the behavior of the various parties in disembarking. For the custom's official is an agent of God.

People should not think that the concept of a person being measured for a good and benevolent or a bad and malevolent afterlife is only from the early Christians. The Jews and the Greeks did not think much about afterlife - Jewish "Sheol" was sought of vague and colorless at best. Later (I suspect) a day when the Messianic Age would begin was adopted to buck up the Jews in the face of problems on earth - but this was not an original concept with them. In fact, in the book of Samuel of the Old Testament, using a witch to contact the dead was considered a mortal sin for both using a witch and for disturbing the dead. The Greeks pictured a similar drab afterlife where the ghosts of the dead lived - Homer had a chapter about the dead in their afterlife in THE ODYSSEY. You have to go back to ancient Egypt to find a view of the afterlife that had a place for heaven and hell. The heart of the person was weighed on a scale, and if the same as a feather the person went to a happy afterlife (with all the comforts he enjoyed in his social class on earth). But if it weighed down on the scale, the person was doomed, and given over to a monster (a crocodile) to be eaten.

When Sutton Vane wrote his play it was the ruminations of a veteran from the killing fields of World War I, and the seeming collapse of Western values. He found the answer in intense Christian theology. But along came the Second World War, and the story (while still strong) was updated. The deaths of the majority of the passengers is from a German bombing raid. Now George Tobias was added as an American Merchant Seaman as a passenger, and the millionaire (a pompous figure played by Montague Love in the original film) is a ruthless cutthroat in the hands of George Coulouris. Coulouris has a mistress (Faye Emerson) but he is really too self-centered to have a satisfactory relationship with anyone. The lovers in the original were British, but here it is a foreign alien (Paul Henried) and an American girl (Eleanor Parker). Leslie Howard was a soured idealist in the original, while John Garfield was simply a cynic here. Beryl Mercer's relatively restrained performance in the original was matched by Sarah Allgood here. Finally the snobby Alison Skipworth was replaced by Isobel Elsom (similarly demanding and snobby) but Gilbert Emory is her put-upon, gentle husband here.

There are some fine moments in this film - one of my favorites is when Dennis King as the Vicar remembers a prayer from when he was a child and recites it to the other passengers just before their judge comes aboard. He does it without any outlandish emoting (a far cry from some of his weaker moments in his starring role in THE VAGABOND KING fifteen years before). It may have been his best scene in films.

The judge in the original was Dudley Digges, who certainly gets down to business with typical smoothness and care. Here it's Dudley's successor Sidney Greenstreet. Playing a nice fellow here (which is how he is one of God's agents) he has a choice moment or two when dealing with the passengers - making sure that Garfield gets a degree of stunned humility before he enters heaven accompanied by Allgood, but also dealing with the nastier characters in typically effective Greenstreet manner. Whenever Sidney faced George Coulouris one's sympathies were with Greenstreet (Coulouris always was such a contemptible type against Sydney, even in THE VERDICT). Here it reaches the finest moment between them. Coulouris is used to getting his way with everyone because he's "Lingley of Lingley Ltd." He tries that here, figuring the British class system has been grafted into heaven. Greenstreet tells him he knows and to shut up. Then Edmund Gwenn (the steward - a typically good performance too) starts leading Coulouris away to ... err descend the gangplank, Coulouris demands to know what happened to his question and answer period. "You've had it.", says Greenstreet. "When?", demands Coulouris. "When you said you were "Lingley" of "Lingley Ltd.", replies a stern Greenstreet. He then recounts the unscrupulous business career of Coulouris, who actually does try to defend it (he started in poverty and clawed his way up). But he finds nobody to defend him, not even Emerson.

Greenstreet also teaches Elsom a lesson about her social snobbery. She is to live in a fine house - only she can't leave it and she'll be all alone. Emory, however, is reunited with his old friends.

One can say that the views of the screen writers was simplistic, but in cases of allegory or religious drama simplicity becomes a virtue. BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, like the earlier OUTWARD BOUND, remains a very worthy film to watch.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"We have so much to live for..."

Author: Alex da Silva from United Kingdom
21 November 2010

A group of passengers destined to board a ship to New York are caught in an air raid and their taxi is bombed. At the same time, Henry (Paul Henreid) and Ann (Eleanor Parker) enter a suicide pact in Henry's flat, seal the windows and turn on the gas. We then find the story moves onto a ship where the only passengers are the cast that we have been previously introduced to. Ann realizes that they are all dead. The ship's steward, Scrubby (Edmund Gwenn) asks that Ann and Henry don't tell the other passengers as they haven't yet realized what has happened to them. We find out about the various characters before we are introduced to the Examiner (Sydney Greenstreet) who must send them on to either Heaven or Hell. What will be the fate of the two suicides....?

I like this film a lot. I like the story and I like the cast. The weak link is Paul Henreid who can be too over-dramatic. There are moments that will bring tears to your eyes, eg, the fate of Mrs Midget (Sara Allgood) and the sequence at the end where only Henry and Ann remain on board and what happens next......"This is too cruel"......

The film works because we are given a cast of players, some of whom we like and some of who we don't and we can have fun anticipating what their outcomes will be. You won't guess any of them but they are all satisfying, as is the film's conclusion when only Henry and Ann remain with Scrubby. Definitely worth seeing again.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

If you liked Death Takes a Holiday you'll like this one

Author: sfdphd from United States
20 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Others have reviewed the plot of this film. I just want to add something that no one else seems to have mentioned. The ending reminded me of the Wizard of Oz. Did they just dream about the ship as Dorothy dreamed about the land of Oz? It doesn't matter, but it was a delightful unexpected ending. I enjoyed the fact that the story kept taking unexpected twists and turns. The first scenes in the port, then the bomb, then the suicide, then the ship scenes, then the Examiner, and finally the ending. Wow, it kept me on the edge of my seat. This film also reminded me of how much I enjoyed the modern film Defending Your Life, with a different kind of Examiner in the afterlife. Check it out if you liked Between Two Worlds.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Superb morality movie

Author: donnellymj from United States
18 January 2007

This is a clever setting and timeless study of where everyone of us are headed someday in the future - our death and afterlife. The whole film gave me a challenge to measure my own way of living today and all the priorities I have solidified.

The gentle manner of presenting these challenges makes it easy to follow and I think the actors in general did an excellent job of filling their roles.

This movie is rarely shown and I do not think it is available on any home video format. You can see it on Turner once-in-awhile and I think anyone open to a serious message will be rewarded.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Is there such a place?

Author: Michael Obrofta from United States
9 November 2006

I saw this movie for the first time in the 70s. It was, up to that point in my life, one of the few film attempts to tell us what happens to us when we die. Is there a place between our life on planet earth and whatever lies beyond? The point the movie does deliver well is that there is accountability, and people get more than enough chances to do the right thing.

John Garfield, Sydney Greenstreet and Eleanor Parker and Edmund Gwynn are all excellent in their roles.

It's a little slow aboard ship. but the movie has to weave the subplots, which it does quite well, bringing everything into judgment, as it were. Stick through it, there's a well done ending waiting for you.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The need to fulfill a 42yrs desire

Author: srichard1955 from Philadelphia, Pennsylania
11 November 2004

I saw this movie when I was 7 years old. Up until last year I didn't even know the name of the movie, but I remembered seeing it and kept trying to discover the name and if I would ever get to see it again now that I am older and would have a better understanding.

Last year I discovered IMDb's web site and because of them, I now know the name. I also discovered that Between Two Worlds is a remake of the 1936 Outward Bound. I keep checking on a regular basis hoping that these movies will be issued on DVD one day soon. My hope is that until then, Turner Classic Movies will obtain copies so that I can put my 42yrs desire and search to an end.

I remember finding the movie very fascinating. I need to know if it really was or if it was just a childish perspective

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very well done romantic morality play

Author: mnoir-2 from Webster, NH
2 December 1999

Complete with all the cliche characters (Fallen Woman, Stuck Up Woman, Ruthless Captain of Industry, Good-for-Nothing, Star Crossed Lovers, etc.), this seemingly innocent fantasy about Judgement Day quickly turns quite intense and filled with suspense, as has been said, a showcase for several very talented actors. Most especially, Sydney Greenstreet as a good guy was wonderful. There are many surprises at the end, all having to do with the dispositions of the various souls. All dealt with very fairly, but in unexpected ways.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A bittersweet movie about death amidst war

Author: dimplet from United States
27 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

~~~ I notice some reviewers are giving away details without doing a spoiler alert. If you haven't seen this, just watch it; the less you know about the story, the better. ~~~

Viewed from today's perspective, Between Two Worlds looks a bit creaky. Until you realize when it was released, May 1944, there were so many people dying in the war, hit by bombs in air raids, on torpedoes ships, in battle, often in groups. People were probably a bit numbed by the incessant drumbeat of death, and this movie may have been a way to try to think through the meaning of it all, what it would be like to die in a group and face judgment together.

In lesser hands, this might have been a turgid exercise in moralizing. As it is, there are plenty of stereotypes that look a bit simplistic today. But bear with it, because as other reviewers have said, there some nice twists to the story. I don't think it is giving much away to say that the business tycoon gets his due, which is perhaps even more satisfying in today's world, and gives it some contemporary relevance. But not all outcomes are so predictable.

As another reviewer noted, there is some resemblance to the Twilight Zone TV series. The episode "Judgment Night" set aboard a doomed ship comes to mind. There are the Twilight Zone twists, and the satisfying moral outcomes.

It is nice to see John Garfield get top billing, and does a good job. From today's perspective, Edmund Gwenn is the clear star, though, and the actor who has best stood the test of time, with his roles in Miracle on 34th Street and The Trouble With Harry.

I watched it out of curiosity to see Eleanor Parker, whom I also watched recently in Scaramouche, and who appeared in The Sound of Music. She probably delivered the most inspired, passionate performance here, making Paul Henreid look pale by comparison, though their love for each other did seem credible.

OK, spoiler alert.

Actually, there is another connection, and that is to It's a Wonderful Life, and not an enormous surprise. That's the ultimate point, of course. But the outcome that I enjoyed the most was for John Garfield's character. And I doubt one in a thousand viewers would guess that ending.

As to the music, Erich Korngold was among the best of the period, and his presence says something of the status of this film for Warner Brothers. Background music was used differently then, and was not supposed to be too melodic, unlike the more recent masterpieces of Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams. I didn't particularly notice it, but then it was supposed to be notice, and I'm used to old movies.

Yes, it looks dated, but it's a joy to find an old movie that I haven't seen that's creative and so worth watching as this.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An Adult Fantasy

Author: robertguttman from Tappan, New York
13 March 2011

"Between Two Worlds" is one of the best examples of one of the rarest of move genres, a fantasy for grown-ups. I can't think of many other successful examples of this sort of thing off hand beyond, perhaps, Powell and Pressburger's "A Matter of Life and Death".

By "adult" I do not, of course, mean that there is anything off-color or X-rated about the film. On the contrary, it's pretty tame by today's standards. This film is simply a fantasy for adults in the sense that it was not for or about children or adolescents.

A small, ill-assorted group of people find themselves together at night on a fog-shrouded passenger ship with no other passengers, and no crew save for a single steward. Two of the passengers, who are slightly apart from the others, have committed suicide and are aware that they are dead. The others know nothing. The steward, who knows what is going on, caters to the passengers wishes and pretends that everything is normal.

The film is very well done, with a first-rate cast of the sort of character actors they simply can't assemble anymore, wonderfully atmospheric sets, and set against an excellent Korngold musical score. I understand there was an earlier version with Leslie Howard, called "Outward Bound". I've never seen it, but it would be interesting to see it and compare it with this version.

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