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Reaching from Heaven (1948)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 February 1948 (USA)
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Just as church services are letting out, a shabbily-dressed stranger is run over by an automobile in front of the church. The stranger is helped mentally and physically by the minister and ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Frank Strayer)

Writers:

(original story and screenplay), (idea) (as Reverend Henry Rische)
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Cheryl Walker ...
...
The Stranger
...
Pastor
Charles Evans ...
Walter Graves (as Chas. Evans)
...
Sophie Manley
Addison Richards ...
Max Bradley
Nana Bryant ...
Kay Bradley
...
Dorothy Gram
Jack Lambert ...
Buck Huggins
...
Martha Kestner (as Ann Lee Doran)
George Chandler ...
Bert Kestner (as Geo. Chandler)
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Storyline

Just as church services are letting out, a shabbily-dressed stranger is run over by an automobile in front of the church. The stranger is helped mentally and physically by the minister and congregation members, who help him regain his self-confidence and also to accept the death of his wife as she was about to embark from Europe, as a displaced person, to join him in America. They help bring his five-year-old daughter to the United States, and the congregation makes a home for him and his daughter. The young lady who caused his accident, the town-banker's daughter, takes a job to pay for his hospital expenses. Do unto others as you.... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HEAVEN or HELL...The Choice is Yours

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Language:

Release Date:

1 February 1948 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Sundays are sacred....for my hangover!
16 October 2014 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

So says Jack Lambert as the tough-talking engineer working with the church going Hugh Beaumont who is trying to convince his co-workers to start attending church services in order to bring them closer to God. "Salvation", Lambert's nickname for Beaumont, is initially sarcastic, but you know that in this Lutheran church made drama, he'll come around at some point. This is a surprisingly human drama told from realistic standpoints with a ton of scripture thrown in. That element of the film makes it seem a lot less preachy, especially with the very human characters played by many familiar Hollywood character actors. Beaumont, a real-life minister himself, is a parishioner here, but is the conscience of the film, while John Qualen, as a troubled immigrant, is the heart and soul.

The film opens with Qualen receiving a telegram from a relative overseas bluntly telling him that his wife has died. What should they do about her remains? Desperately in need of somebody to talk to, he turns to the neighbors but they are too busy gossiping, a passerby simply tells him that he's a stranger in town, and the parishioners of pastor Regis Toomey's church simply overlook him as if he was invisible. Toomey spots him but is too distracted by the foolish chatter of the departing congregation, and just as he yells out to Qualen, car breaks screech, and Qualen is lying gravely wounded on the pavement. Driver Cheryl Walker sits behind the wheel as if in a trance, and Beaumont lambasts her without even considering her shock.

This religious drama asks the question, "Can God, who created the universe, really be concerned about one little person in a world of so many?". Of course, true Christians know the basic answer to this, but the film dramatizes how one person can become important to so many and open their eyes to their own failings as Christians. Among the congregation is Margaret Hamilton as the scowling, judgmental veteran parishioner who on the surface seems to have forgotten the teachings of the church, but is obviously struggling on the inside to be true to God's will. A funny "Wizard of Oz" reference has one of the characters describing her as having ice water in her veins that refuses to "melt".

Hamilton is also a bit of a troublemaker, expressing her displeasure when her engineer boss (Charles Evans) hires niece Walker whose father (Addison Richards) is the owner of a rival company. When a deal Evans put a bid on ends up in Richards' hand, Hamilton publicly blames Walker. This mixes up the spiritual nature of the drama with every day business life, making the film seem more mainstream than something that probably. only saw the light of day in church basements. As this drama unfolds, the church parishioners gather around to root for Qualen's recovery and await the arrival of his young daughter, which results in a surprise party and reveals the moral of the story.

This is a surprisingly worldly view of religious issues that doesn't overload on bible thumping or the destructive element of Pentecostal judgementalism which tends to keep people from going to church or turning to God through their priest or minister for guidance. Even its explanation of how "the wages of sin is death" is presented in a manner that doesn't rely on hellfire and brimstone, only the acceptance of Christ as savior and God as creator and all forgiving. The writers have the sense to know that in presenting realistic characters whom the audience could relate to is more conducive to the film's mission.


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