This week’s mystery movie was the 1940 film “Beyond Tomorrow” with Charles Winninger, Richard Carlson, Maria Ouspenskaya, Jean Parker, Helen Vinson, C. Aubrey Smith, Harry Carey, Alex Melesh, Rod La Rocque, J. Anthony Hughes, Robert Homans, Virginia McMullen, James Bush and William Bakewell.
Screenplay by Adele Comandini, associate producer; original story by Mildred Cram and Adele Comandini.
Music by Frank Tours, production manager Joseph H. Nadel, edited by Otto Ludwig. Song “It’s Raining Dreams” by Harold Spina and Charles Newman, art direction by Stephen Goosson, photography by Lester White, sound by William Wilmarth.
Interior decorations by Babs Johnstone, assistant director Robert Stillman, casting director Jack Murton, gowns by Edwina, publicity by Hal Hall, chief electrician James Potevin, special effects by Ned Mann and Jack Cosgrove, montage by Howard Anderson.
Produced by Lee Garmes. Directed by A. Edward Sutherland.
“Beyond Tomorrow” has lapsed into public domain and prints are available from a number of vendors, including TCM and Amazon (which even has a colorized version!), as well as online at Archive.org and YouTube. It will also air on TCM on Dec. 24.
I usually avoid seasonal themes for the mystery movies, but one of my favorite writers on film, Farran Nehme, mentioned that she had never seen “Beyond Tomorrow” and that was good enough for me. Although this print was restored for the National Film Museum, the images are still murky and blotchy.
Unusual supernatural theme is effectively carried out by a fine cast.
Dealing with the supernatural, this picture has an unusual theme that should prove of interest to most audiences. In addition, it has a very fine cast that does a workmanlike job. Although there are no big names in the cast, there are a number of well-known names that can be used on marquees and the supernatural theme of the film also lends itself readily to exploitation.
Writing in the New York Times (Sept. 27, 1940), Bosley Crowther did not entirely approve of such goings-on.
We’ve never had any particular grudge against ghosts, but we’re rapidly developing one. That goes too for the scenarists who insist on calling forth shades from the Stygian night. For when the ghosts come in, the plot usually goes out the window, and after that a mere film reviewer is apt to be as confused as if he were sitting at a seance with levitation tables, blurred apparitions and sepulchral voices. Take “Beyond Tomorrow,” which opened yesterday at the Palace. For its first half it is a latter-day Christmas carol, told with a gamin tenderness and warming as a hot toddy. But when its three elderly good Samaritans return from a plane crash as celluloid chimeras, its mystical peregrinations are more preposterous than moving.
So long as the story concerns itself with Christmas Eve, the three old codgers who toss their wallets into the snow in hope of finding company for dinner, and of the lonely boy and girl who return two of them, the film has charm and poignance. But when the scenarists don metaphysician’s robes the boy becomes a famous radio signer and falls under the sway of the usual enchantress. The three old men, now literally ghosts of their former selves, labor frantically to save the happiness of the youngsters before each of them receives his respective summons from the “great beyond.”
For Monday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is Hank Worden.
For Tuesday, we have a mysterious police officer. He grudgingly approves of such goings-on.
Update: This is Robert Homans.
Brain Trust roll call: Skretvedt (Monday’s mystery guest), Michael Ryerson (Monday’s mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s mystery guest), Jenny M. (Monday’s mystery guest), Chrisbo (Monday’s mystery guest), Benito (Monday’s mystery guest, E. Yarber (Monday’s mystery guest), Floyd Thursby (Monday’s mystery guest) and Sylvia E. (Monday’s mystery guest).
For Wednesday, we have a mystery woman making her second appearance this year as a mystery guest, in an impressive chapeau. She approves of such goings-on, but whether the other characters approve of her is not so certain.
Update: This is Helen Vinson.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery guests) and Thom and Megan (Tuesday’s mystery police sergeant).
For “Aha Thursday,” Wednesday’s mystery woman has a mysterious companion.
Update: This is Rod La Rocque and Helen Vinson.
Update: This is Maria Ouspenskaya.
And finally, a couple of somewhat transparent mystery guests.
Update: This is C. Aubrey Smith and William Bakewell.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery woman), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s mystery woman) and Sylvia E. (Wednesday’s mystery woman).
For Friday, we have this mystery guest.
Update: This is Charles Wininger.
He’s one of a trio of mystery gents, along with Thursday’s mystery gent No. 2
Update: This is C. Aubrey Smith, Harry Carey and Charles Wininger.
Along with our mysterious leading lady.
Update: This is Jean Parker.
And our mysterious leading man.
Update: This is Richard Carlson.
Brain Trust roll call: Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Chrisbo (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sheila (mystery movie and Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guest), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (Monday’s mystery guest), Anne Papineau (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Benito (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Sylvia E. (Thursday’s mystery guests) and Megan and Thom (mystery movie and all mystery guests).