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
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.