Between Two Worlds (1944) - Between Two Worlds (1944) - User Reviews - IMDb
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Forgotten film deserves more recognition...
Doylenf9 May 2001
I finally had an opportunity to see this largely "forgotten" film, one of my favorites dealing in a mystical way with the afterlife. A remake of "Outward Bound" ('30), it was updated to World War II and begins with an air raid in which several people are unable to seek shelter. Afterwards, they find themselves on a strange ship and only gradually come to realize they are all dead--and about to be judged by a man called The Examiner (Sydney Greenstreet). The disparate group of people include some of the dependable Warner contract players: John Garfield, Eleanor Parker, Paul Henried, Faye Emerson, Edmund Gwenn, Isobel Elmson and Sara Allgood.

Thoughtful and well written (though talky and showing its stage origins), it permits us to examine the passengers one by one as they reveal their fears and foibles--each having substantial roles in a series of vignettes that will lead to their ultimate destination--heaven or hell.

It's fascinating, handsomely produced amid low-key film noir lighting and the performances are all first-rate. John Garfield and Paul Henried give the strongest performances in the meatiest roles but the others are all more than competent, including the lovely Eleanor Parker.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score happens to be one of his personal "favorites" and I can certainly see why. It is melancholy, lyrical and mysterious--in keeping with the "otherworldly" elements of a film about passengers on their way to another world.

An oddly interesting film, thought provoking and well worth viewing. It's a wonder no one has produced a remake since the material lends itself to endless possibilities.
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"You see my son, you make your heaven and hell for yourselves on earth, you only bring it with you here."
classicsoncall18 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Henreid portrays a character with a pretty young wife, determined to leave the country and desperately needing an exit permit - sound familiar? Perhaps so, but this isn't "Casablanca", it's a relatively obscure film from 1944 deserving of a wider audience. "Between Two Worlds" is a well constructed morality tale that reveals the lot of a handful of souls on the way to their final destination aboard a ship going nowhere.

The wayward passengers come together as the vehicle en route to their trans-Atlantic ship is destroyed by a German World War II air raid bombing in London. Simultaneously, the distraught Henry Bergner (Henreid), unable to obtain passage for his wife Ann (Eleanor Parker) and himself, chooses suicide for both. Interestingly, the Bergner's are the only passengers that know from the beginning that they are dead, having chosen their fate. Their fellow passengers can't seem to remember recent events, complaining of fatigue and dizziness.

As one might expect, the characters are stereotypes - Thomas Prior (John Garfield) is a brash, cynical newspaperman; Maxine "Maxie" Russell (Faye Emerson) is a part time stage actress and full time gold digger. Pete (George Tobias) is heading back to America to be with his wife and yet unseen newborn son, who has already defied the odds by surviving three torpedo attacks as a serviceman. Genevieve (Isobel Elsom) is a snooty socialite with a very high opinion of herself, married to Benjamin (Gilbert Emery), a patient and unassuming man. Sara Allgood is Mrs. Midget, an odd name for a woman whose lot in life finds enjoyment in helping others. Appropriately, there's a religious man aboard, Reverend William (Dennis King), whose ambition is to meet new people, do new things and get a taste of adventure. And then there's Lingley, of Lingley Limited, who never lets you forget that his money can only be rivaled by his own self importance.

Edmund Gwenn is superb as the ship's steward with the unlikely moniker of Scrubby, whose job it is to deftly allow the passengers to understand their fate as they come to realize what happened to them. And on hand to pass final judgment is The Examiner, Sydney Greenstreet in a perfectly cast role.

If any fault is to be found with the film, it would be the early revelation of the passengers' fate; a little more exposition and buildup would have heightened the suspense. However the fates of the individuals are well suited to their demeanor in life, and are cleverly meted out by the astute Examiner.
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Overall, MUCH superior to its original version
critic-227 June 2000
This is a remake of the 1930 early-talkie "Outward Bound", which was based on the hit 1925 stage play. This version updates the period from the 1920's to the 1940's, and incorporates WW II elements into the story---a totally unnecessary tactic; the original play was quite good on its own and didn't need to have topical elements awkwardly sandwiched in. In fact,one of its strengths was that the entire unworldly experience seemed to take place in an unspecified time.

But this film has a very realistic beginning to it, and a war-related incident sets the plot in motion. The film's only serious blunder---though one that does not fatally affect it----is that we are tipped off as to what is really going on much too early in the film, in comparison to the 1930 film version, in which the characters realized their true situation at the same time as the audience did.

Aside from those objections, though, this is one of the few remakes which tops the original in nearly every department. Without exception, the actors in this version outdo the stiff, primitive early-talkie performances of their predecessors, and this may well be the only film in which Paul Henreid, normally not the most charismatic actor, gives a finer performance than the then-awkward Douglas Fairbanks,Jr. did in the same role in the 1930 film.

Especially outstanding are Edmund Gwenn as the ship's steward, Isobel Elsom as a rich, elderly, bitchy woman, Sydney Greenstreet as a mysterious character whose identity will not be revealed here, and Sara Allgood in one of the most sensitive performances of her career (she acts rings around Beryl Mercer from the 1930 version). George Coulouris, a reliable villain in those days (he was Orson Welles' nasty guardian in "Citizen Kane") is sinister and pompous as a greedy tycoon. And John Garfield is excellent in the Leslie Howard role, altered some to fit Garfield's tough, bitter on-screen persona rather than Howard's ultra-sophisticated, debonair one. (Garfield,though,does not go as berserk when he finds out the truth as Howard so hilariously did in the 1930 version.)

Although much of the dialogue in the first half has been changed and perhaps made slightly less "literary", the second half,which features Sydney Greensteet, is quite faithful to the earlier film and the stage play. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's music runs through nearly every scene, and, although verging toward the bombastic and melodramatic at times, lends plenty of atmosphere to the story.

One unfortunate aspect is that the photography in this version never becomes as eerie as that in the 1930 version, with its striking light and darkness effects. But none of these faults should keep you away from this film, which deserves far better than its relative obscurity in comparison to the other great Warner Bros. classics as well as other films dealing with the afterlife.
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Superbly Acted
drednm15 May 2005
Between Two Worlds was a 1944 remake of the 1930 Leslie Howard film, Outward Bound, which was a hit on Broadway. This allegorical tale about death was the perfect World War II film and boasted a super ensemble cast--each and every cast member is wonderful. The stars, John Garfield, Paul Henreid, Eleanor Parker, and Sydney Greenstreet, give top-notch performances, but the film also boasts high points in the careers of Isobel Elsom, Faye Emerson, Dennis King, Sara Allgood, Gilbert Emery, and Edmund Gwenn. Each actor gets a share of the spotlight as they slowly discover their fate and face the final judgment. Nicely directed with a good set, although the music picks up bits from Casablanca. Moody and yes maybe talky by today's standards, but very effective and moving. My favorite is haughty Isobel Elsom, the great British actress who came to Hollywood in the mid 30s, after being one of England's biggest silent-film stars. She has the role Alison Skipworth played in the 1930 version, but her imperious demeanor takes on a whole new meaning in 1944, set against the war. This is the kind of film that can't be made any more, and when film-makers try, their efforts sink from view very quickly. Powerful and touching film filled with great moments. This one is a must see.
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Underrated remake...
moonspinner5513 January 2008
Terrific film, a remake of 1930's "Outward Bound", has a disparate group of people (John Garfield, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Eleanor Parker among them) on-board a mysterious ocean-liner, unaware they are actually souls being transported to their final destinations. Solemn fantasy is talky, sometimes heavy, but extremely well-acted and occasionally fascinating. Garfield's moment of reckoning is an amazing bit of dramatic acting, and director Edward Blatt is both subtle and sneaky with this fantastic material (it's a very classy product with no camp overtones). It unfolds slowly, but viewers who stick with it will find this a memorable melodrama. *** from ****
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"Another" final voyage.....
renfield549 April 2000
I haven't seen this movie for decades, but I still remember it well. It has a haunting 'twilight zone' twist to it and is very entertaining. I'm surprised, in this in this 'post Titanic megahit' time, that an ocean liner backdrop to an eerie, romantic story has not been recycled as was 'Death Takes a Holiday'. It might even be re-incarnated as a 'Fantasy Island' type TV series with new passengers every week.

You expect justice and good to win out in movies of this era. It's nice they left enough 'wiggle' room to do the right thing. And I think people take a comfort from a good movie showing us going on after death. It's a trip we all hope to take one day....
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one of my obscure favorites
typo-216 May 2000
It's been years since I saw this on television, but it's one of the films I remember best. The plot deals with the most common cultural and spiritual views of the afterlife in a fascinating, allegorical way; it also deals with moral concerns about the way people live their lives. John Garfield is great, as usual. Some of the most wonderful, familiar character actors of old Hollywood bring much heart and integrity to well-defined roles.
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Very good and effective drama from Warner Brothers
blanche-221 September 2006
The dead victims of a London bombing and two suicides are on a ship headed - well, they're not sure - in "Between Two Worlds," a 1944 film starring John Garfield, Sydney Greenstret, Paul Henried, Eleanor Parker, Edmund Gwenn, Faye Emerson and George Coulouris. The suicides, a married couple played by Henried and Parker, are the only ones at first who realize they're dead, but the others find out soon enough. Then they learn that "The Examiner" will be coming on board to evaluate them and decide their final destination.

The film employs a stark set for the ship, and it works beautifully as the tense passengers wait to learn their individual fates.

The acting is marvelous all around. Eleanor Parker reminded me very much of Gene Tierney - at first, I didn't recognize her until I heard her voice. She and Henried are excellent as the only two people who have chosen their destinies. Parker's role especially is written almost melodramatically so at times, she seems over the top, but the story seems to call for it. Greenstreet, with his powerful presence, makes a good examiner. Faye Emerson is lovely as an actress who made a lot of wrong choices, and John Garfield is strong as a belligerent no-good whose life didn't add up to much.

During World War II, it's not surprising that people were giving a lot of thought to the afterlife. After World War II, there were all kinds of films about people come back to earth and angels walking among us. The view of "Between Two Worlds" is that each of us makes our own heaven and hell on earth, that in the end, we sow what we reap, and that love is stronger than any other force. I loved it.
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Hypnotic in a corny way
xredgarnetx29 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, a remake of the 1930 OUTWARD BOUND, as a child and was mesmerized by it, even though I realized the characters were stock types and the overall effect was rather cheesy. Now that I have seen it again recently on TMC, my opinion hasn't changed a whit. The movie is mesmerizing even with its stereotypical characters and play-like sets and structure (it started out as a play in the 1920s). Basic plot summary: Several people who died in a war-time bombing find themselves aboard an ocean liner headed for parts unknown. What saves the film from total obscurity is the wonderful acting of a group of WB contract players, including John Garfield as a boozy, cynical reporter, Sara Allgood as a classic Irish matron, George Tobias as a good-natured merchant marine, Edmund Gwenn as the stoic steward, Sidney Greenstreet as the Interviewer, and a very young and very beautiful Eleanor Parker as the utterly devoted wife of Paul Henreid. (Parker and Henreid are the only ones who know they are dead from the outset, by the way.) The score by Eric Korngold is terrific. He also did the score for the 1936 ROBIN HOOD, and was a classical composer as well. In a movie with many great acting moments, make sure you catch veteran actress Isobel Elsom as a snooty society type. Having been condemned to spend eternity in a castle all by herself, while her sweet husband gets to go on to heaven by himself, her character says a merry goodbye to everyone, then turns on Greenstreet and exclaims, "You swine!" Allgood also has an interesting sendoff when she finds she is to accompany Garfield, who turns out to be her long-lost son, something Garfield does not know. Her character has no question she has reached Heaven. A very nice moment.
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Interesting Development of OUTWARD BOUND
theowinthrop27 March 2008
Warning: 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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A bittersweet movie about death amidst war
dimplet27 September 2011
Warning: 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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If you liked Death Takes a Holiday you'll like this one
sfdphd20 February 2011
Warning: 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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"We have so much to live for..."
AAdaSC21 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
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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Superb morality movie
donnellymj18 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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Souls at sea
tomsview9 November 2016
I have seen this film on and off over the years starting probably around 1960 when it first appeared on Australian television.

During World War Two, a small group of people sailing on a passenger liner from London find they are heading for an unexpected destination.

This film was made during the war. With the world in arms, audiences of the day would have been only too aware of the imminence of death, if not for themselves then for the ones they loved. I think this film would really have hit home, possibly in a reassuring way in as much as the film accepts that there is life beyond death.

There were a number of films made during the war or shortly after that dealt with death and beyond: "Here Comes Mr. Jordan", "A Guy Named Joe", A Matter Of Life And Death" and "The Horn Blows at Midnight". But "Between Two Worlds" was the most serious of them all. It delivered reassurance of an afterlife, but its premise was that a worthy life is essential for an easy transit to the next world - the quality that all religions from the ancient Egyptians onward stress more than anything else.

Completely studio bound whether on land or at sea, the film shows the influence of the 1923 stage play on which it is based. But that foggy, claustrophobic atmosphere gives the film a mood that is sustained from beginning to end.

"Between Two Worlds" features a couple of iconic stars: John Garfield and Sydney Greenstreet. Both give minor variations on their familiar screen personas - Garfield the cynical, street-wise guy whose luck always seemed to be out, and Greenstreet whose rotund affability always masked a deeper agenda.

However Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker give the most effecting performances as Henry and Ann Bergner. There are many lump-in-the-throat moments in the film, but the Bergner's doomed love affair and redemption is an emotional roller coaster.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold only produced 18 film scores in his career, and his work for "Between Two Worlds" was his personal favourite. This sumptuous, soaring score with its chimes and echoing notes cements the film together and directs the mood.

"Between Two Worlds" is a unique film. Thankfully, in Australia, we still have programs like "Bill Collins Golden Years of Hollywood" and "Turner Classic Movies" otherwise movies such as this would disappear from our screens all altogether.
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Very well done romantic morality play
mnoir-22 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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An Adult Fantasy
robertguttman13 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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Is there such a place?
obrofta9 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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The need to fulfill a 42yrs desire
srichard195511 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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Talky, but good
preppy-325 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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See It Before Your Own Ship Sets Sail....
ferbs544 October 2017
Featuring a raft of experienced Warner Brothers lead and character actors as well as one up-and-coming future starlet, 1944's "Between Two Worlds" reveals itself to be a pleasing supernatural fantasy, indeed, and one that should hold up very well for modern audiences, now almost 75 years since its release. The film was based on the 1923 play "Outward Bound" by British playwright Sutton Vane, which had been adapted to film once before, as an early-sound vehicle for Leslie Howard, under that original title, in 1930. I have not seen that first version--it does not seem to be screened very often--but can say that the remake is a most interesting offering, with many eerie touches and some wonderful thesping by one and all.

In the film, a disparate group is shown about to board an ocean liner in London, bound for New York. But just as the group departs via auto to their ship, a German aerial bombing results in their vehicle bursting into flames. At the same time, we meet a young Austrian ex-soldier, who is attempting to leave the country via that same ship. He is played by Paul Henreid, and the fact that he is having a rough time obtaining his "exit permit" from a wartorn country forcibly brings to mind his similar quandary in the classic "Casablanca." When his permit is denied, he decides to commit suicide by turning on the gas line in his flat's apartment, only to be discovered by his wife (Eleanor Parker, looking very beautiful and offering up a wonderful performance in this, her 4th film, and at the onset of one of Hollywood's great careers). She decides to join him in death rather than be left alone without him, and before the two of them know what is happening, they find themselves on that selfsame ocean liner on which they had intended to depart. They soon realize the truth: They are dead, this is the afterlife, and their ship is bound it heaven or hell? And the other folks that had been blasted out of existence are there also, but unaware of the truth. They consist of a cynical and wisecracking newspaper reporter (expertly portrayed by John Garfield, here almost at the midpoint of his career); a sailor who is returning home to his wife and kids (the great character actor George Tobias, who provides much of the film's humor); an aloof and domineering manufacturing exec (George Coulouris); a sweet English biddy spinster (Sara "The Spiral Staircase" Allgood); a down-on-her-luck actress (Faye Emerson); a reverend who has decided to go out into the world for the first time and do his best to help others (Dennis King); an unhappily married, mismatched couple (Isobel Elsom and Gilbert Emery); and Scrubby, the only crewman/porter on the entire ship (Edmund "Them!" Gwenn). We do get to know all these characters in some depth as the film proceeds, and are thus prepared when they are ultimately sentenced to their eternal fate by The Examiner, who comes on board late in the film (and played by the great Sydney Greenstreet).

"Between Two Worlds" was directed by someone named Edward A. Blatt, a Russian ex-stage director who, it seems, only directed two other films after this one. But he does a nice job here, and incorporates some interesting touches (I love the hissing gas vent that segues into the ship's whistle) into his picture. The musical score for the film, by the great Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is not nearly as rousing and memorable as had been his contributions to such films as "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk" (two of this viewer's all-time faves), but does still go far in engendering an otherworldly mood. The film has a literate and adult script, provided by Daniel Fuchs (who would go on to pen two great film noirs, "Criss Cross" and "Panic in the Streets"), and many of the characters get to deliver lines that carry great weight. My favorite comes from The Examiner himself, in speaking of the afterlife: "Death...people have all sorts of notions. It's really very simple. You make your heaven and hell for yourselves on Earth; you only bring it with you here. Some people waste it tragically; others toss it aside...." All the actors in the film get their moment to shine, but I would especially like to say a word about young Eleanor here. She is just luminous in this early role of hers, easily matching the talents of her more experienced costars although just 21 at the time. No wonder Warners put her on the fast track to stardom. And yet, it would take another 15 months for her to really break through...oddly enough, in another film costarring John Garfield, "Pride of the Marines." Her performance here was worth the price of admission alone for this viewer, although this is very much an ensemble work by that great cast of pros. This film comes highly recommended by yours truly. Consider it a bucket-list item that you should see before your own ship sets sail....
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Beautifully realized
jjnxn-14 March 2013
A beautifully realized retelling of Outward Bound with some of the best feature actors and characters actors working at the time. The wonderful thing about these old studio films is that they had the resources to fill a film with top flight talent because they were all under contract.

Top billed John Garfield is great as the tough talking but inwardly insecure reporter and he is supported by some very fine performances. Faye Emerson gives what is probably her best performance of her short career as well as adding a shot of glamour. The entire cast is superb and each get their spotlight moment. Sara Allgood and Isobel Elsom provide an interesting contrast of what time and circumstance can do to a person. George Tobias adds a warm presence as an everyday mook who just wants to get along with everyone. Edmund Gwenn and Sydney Greenstreet make a great pair as the gatekeepers. The weakest link is probably Henreid, who is okay but not up to the quality work of the others.

By necessity stage bound the film manages to convey a eerie feeling of the in between through lighting and an excellent mood setting score.
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What do you expect? This was a Warner Brothers film!!!!
yorkie19747 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It took this movie about two hours to tell a story that it took "Lost" five years to tell - and with much better acting, writing and directing.

Then again, what do you expect? This was a Warner Brothers film starring actors who acted, rather than look at the camera and try to look beautiful.

I've never seen a movie with either John Garfield or George Tobias in it that I didn't enjoy immensely. Garfield is one of the all-time greats to me, an amazing talent gone way, way too soon. I've always had this picture in my mind of Garfield as an old man working with Coppola or Scorcese. He was DiNiro or Pacino before there was DiNiro and Pacino.
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Afterlife for a Play and a Film
Cineanalyst25 July 2018
"Between Two Worlds" is a preachy and simplistic moral fantasy film, but it's somewhat interesting, for me at least, to compare it to the film it's a remake of, "Outward Bound" (1930), both of which are based on the original play. I haven't seen the play and, of course, I didn't see it originally in the 1920s. Like the character Scrubby, I've sailed back and forth with these other characters in their (relatively) eternal afterlife of film, but I never knew them in life, or live theatre. And like the films' other suicides, Henry and Ann, we the spectators willingly enter this other world, but we don't belong.

One thing I like about this 1944 remake compared to the 1930 adaptation is that it adds a theatrical act within the film, with the characters performing and being spectators. It's a play-within-a-play. Tom Prior leads the performance to reveal, in his snarky way, to his fellow passengers that they're all dead. Unlike in the 1930 film, which also had no scene like this, the passengers' deaths are no surprise to us spectators of the film. The film is adapted to the then-current WW2, with most of the passengers dying from an air raid and the suicides being given a partially new reason, as well, as resulting from Henry's trauma from the war. Apparently, because of the Hays Code, the young couple are now married, and Tom Prior doesn't actually do much drinking on screen.

I'm fine with doing away with the surprise, which actually wasn't much of one in the 1930 film, either. I suspected as much before Leslie Howard's version of Tom Prior exposed it, but, then, I had the knowledge it was a Hollywood film, so the fantastic mystery wouldn't remain unresolved or obscure surrealism à la Luis Buñuel's "The Exterminating Angel" (1962), for instance. Classic Hollywood films such as "Outward Bound" and "Between Two Worlds" are too simple for that, and they're always resolved. Anyways, I wish this remake would've done away with the play's later surprise, too, involving the relationship of two of the passengers, because it felt tacked on and tacky in both films.

Another improvement upon the 1930 version is the evolution of film style since the infancy of talkies from which "Outward Bound" failed to overcome. Thus, "Between Two Worlds" has a brisker pacing, with an average shot length of about 9 seconds compared to about 12.8 for "Outward Bound," despite the 1944 film also featuring several long tracking shots, the first of which references the 1930 film and the play's title on a sign. Another tracking shot I liked was the one involving a mirror, which Maxine--a character absent in the 1930 film and rather superfluous here--uses to examine herself in.

Yet, "Between Two Worlds" remains almost as stage-bound as the former film. For most of it, we're stuck in ship rooms with lots of talking, regardless of the amount of editing and deliberate camera movement. Thus, a lot depends on the acting and the script, neither of which is especially divine here. John Garfield's Tom Prior is remade a journalist for the remake, which, I guess, is the reason for his barrage of rat-a-tat insults as though he's auditioning for "The Front Page" (1931) or "His Girl Friday" (1940). Meanwhile, Sydney Greenstreet turns in another airy yet dignified performance as the Examiner, which would've been just as appropriate had he been judging Humphrey Bogart in a noir setting.

The 1930 film had more foggy and dreamlike atmosphere to it, including an obscured view of some kind of Heaven. The 1944 film, however, relies for atmosphere upon its score--another thing, as with most early talkies, missing from "Outward Bound." Fortunately, it's a rather good score.
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Unusually good tale on the FINAL JOURNEY of several travelers
vincentlynch-moonoi4 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This mostly forgotten little film is VERY good. It tells of several people during World War II who are blown up while preparing to sail from Europe to America, and although they don't realize they are then dead, they still board a "ship", but the destination is heaven or hell or whatever comes once one passes (what comes is not made entirely clear, although it seems as if one continues to live a similar "life" with restrictions...and not on earth).

I have only 2 criticisms. First, the sets here are quite cheap. You just have to get past that. And, the final 3 minutes have some corny dialog, although the manner in which it ends (just not the dialog) is quite good.

The cast here is excellent. John Garfield is at his cocky best as a newspaper man, and one of the first to learn that the group is dead; it really works for his persona on the big screen. Paul Henreid plays a role where he (and Eleanor Parker) are in a different boat (so to speak) -- they are suicides. Henreid was, in my view, a somewhat limited actor -- great is certain types of roles, but not very flexible. Henreid works well here. Eleanor Parker is also very good. Sydney Greenstreet is excellent as the power who decides what will happen to each individual. But this is not your typical Greenstreet role. Here, despite his power, his character is rather benevolent in his demeanor, and it works well for Greenstreet. Edmund Gwenn plays the one member of the crew on the "ship"; it's a good role for him, and a bit of a surprise in the plot. George Tobias, a character actor with seemingly one type, plays it well here. Faye Emerson is here in a good role as a slightly less than upright woman, but here, too, is another plot surprise. It's very nice to see a long-time character actress -- Sara Allgood as Mrs. Midget -- get a more solid role than was usual; she really was quite good. The other members of the cast do their jobs well.

It's not exaggerating too much to say that this movie is nearly profound. Unless you have an absolutely cut and dried viewpoint about what happens after death, this will probably get you thinking about things like heaven or hell or a mere change in station (but not quality of "existence"). While it's not one of the better known Warner Brothers films of 1944, in my view it is deserving of much more attention than it has gotten. I don't give many "8" ratings, so I recommend this film.
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