“I remember now. We were flying. There was a storm. A mountaintop. We crashed”
George Melton (Harry Carey), Allan Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith) and Michael O’Brien (Charles Winninger) are engineers. It is Christmas Eve and the three gentlemen go home to the mansion they share with Madame Tanya (Maria Ouspenskaya). Madame Tanya is an elderly countess dispossessed by the Russian Revolution. Also there is Josef (Alex Melesh), the butler. They are expecting some prestigious guests for Christmas Eve dinner.
Their guests cancel at the last minute. George believes it has to do with his past. To cheer him up Michael comes up with an idea to obtain new dinner guests. Each man throws out a wallet containing $10 and his business card into the street. If anyone brings the wallet back they will be invited to dinner.
George's wallet is found by a woman who gives the $10 to her driver and throws the wallet away. The other two are returned. The first is a Texan named James Houston (Richard Carlson). The other is a school teacher. Her name is Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker). Both happen to have no other plans and are made to feel welcome so they stay for dinner. They soon become friends with the residents of the house and become attracted to each other. They fall in love.
When the three old men travel by plane on business the plane crashes into a mountain. All three of them die. Their spirits, however, return to mansion they lived in. Circumstances happen where James has the opportunity to have a singing career. Arlene Terry (Helen Vinson) is another singer who is looking for a new partner. James and Terry become involved. The ghosts of the three old men can only look on when Terry starts to come between James and Jean. Still the specters set out to do what they can to try to help James and Jean find their way back to each other.
“Beyond Tomorrow” was released in 1940 and was directed by A. Edward Sutherland. This is technically a Christmas movie. It is also a drama/fantasy/romance. It does have a couple stars that are also known for staring in horror and/or science fiction movies, specifically, a young, Richard Carlson and Maria Ouspenskaya. Richard Carlson plays a singing Texan. He does his best with the Texas accent but the singing apparently is all his. And he’s good. The rest of the cast are solid established actors. The story is charming and bittersweet.
It’s a very sentimental film, full of warmth and cheer but also with the usual tear jerker scenes that movies from that era usually had. It’s also a rather obscure movie. Definitely one of those lost gems that slipped through the cracks. If you’re looking for an old fashioned family oriented movie this is a good one, but you will need Kleenex. Lots of it.
In 2004 a colorized version was released under the title “Beyond Christmas”.