BEYOND TOMORROW (1940)
(Also known as BEYOND CHRISTMAS)

Starring Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Maria Ouspenskaya, Jean Parker, Richard Carlson

If you like old-timey Christmas movies, this is a little-known black and white movie that is a true treasure.

A holiday gem released in 1940, this is an old-fashioned, sentimental, classic tale of three elderly gentlemen (each as endearing as can be) who foster the love of a young couple.

It's Christmas Eve, and lonely but wealthy older businessmen George Melton, Charlie O'Brien and Alan 'Chad' Chadwick (Carey, Winninger & Smith), who work together in their own successful engineering firm. They also live together in a New York townhouse. Their servants are Russian immigrants, played by Alex Melesh and Maria Ouspenskaya, aka the Wolfman's gypsy), who dote on them. But the men have no family of their own to celebrate with. Charlie comes up with a brilliant idea: they'll all put a ten dollar bill in each of three wallets and fling them out the window. Whichever honest souls return them will be asked to dinner and maybe become a new friend.

   

George's is found by a rich-looking woman who says he'll never miss the money and hurls his empty wallet behind her. Charlie's is found by a rodeo performer from Texas, James Houston (Carlson), who cheerily returns the wallet even though, as Chad notices, his boots are worn and he has no coat. The kindly older men press James to stay for a drink. Finally, Chad's wallet is returned by a lovely young lady, Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker), a kindergarten teacher.

   

The trio invites the young couple to share their holiday meal with them. Both of the young people develop a friendship with their hosts while beginning to fall in love with each other.

The film pretends to be about the love story of Jean and Jimmy, but it's really about the trio of Charlie, Chad and George, whose characters drive the film and are more important to the viewers' affections and opinions about the film.

O'Brien's house is the very picture of holiday cheer, right down to the roaring fire and Tom & Jerry punch. But after a few scenes, we are sent to New Years' Eve and beyond -- a winter full of Jimmy & Jean making friends with the three gentlemen. Then, at the end of February, the trio is called away on business during a blizzard, against the concerns of their faithful housekeeper, Madame Tanya. When their plane goes down and they all perish, they become the couple's guardian angels. The "ghosts" guide their love to ensure that it will last forever in this charming and romantic holiday fantasy.

The film was re-released onto DVD in 2005 with the restored black and white version, as well as a newly colorized edition. Both prints are outstandingly well done. The DVD also features a few deleted scenes, an amazing find for a film over sixty years old!

Beyond Christmas can be recommended to anyone who likes sentimental movies and wants to expand their Christmas-themed film collection. The film is unremittingly about the importance and rewards of kindness, as well as how we can melt the bitterness out of our hearts as George does. Even Jimmy's proposal to Jean is painfully cute and charming. In a world full of terror and pain, sometimes it's good to just let yourself drown in kindness and care just a little. Filled with heart and soul, this charming holiday classic is perfect for Christmas and beyond.