"Between Two Worlds" (1944)
When I get the chance to flip through the channels I usually check TCM (and BBC-America as well) to see what they are showing for the day. I mean don't get me wrong, I always enjoy a good cartoon or even seeing "Toy Story 3" for the tenth time but it always nice to have a moment to myself. On those days when my babies are all asleep, I get to actually have some adult t.v. time-can we say "whoaaa yeapeeeeee!
I came across "Between Two Worlds" and was immediately captivated by not only the storyline but the characters themselves. It's very rare these days to find a modern film that really gets into the story so its worth diving into this world for an hour or so.
The Trailer of "Between Two Worlds" (1944)
It starts out with a couple in the midst of a bombing in London during WWII and then it continues on board a ship with the most interesting and complicated characters. An actress, gambler, priest---wow that sounds like a bad bar joke but its true those were some of the characters!
You see each persons story unravel and wonder if there will be a happy ending for each of them. I might as well tell you--they are all dead! They are on that ship to be judged and to be told where they will go.
It all begins with the main characters are a married couple named Henry, played by Paul Henreid and Ann, played by Eleanor Parker. In the very beginning while London is being bombed Ann rushes off to their apartment only to find Henry with the gas on in order to commit suicide. She convinces him that she cannot live without him and then you see them on that ship.
Sidney Greenstreet's character consoling Pete, played by George Tobias.
The climax of the film is when they all find out that they are dead which leads them to be informed by the Examiner played by Sidney Greenstreet what their ultimate fate is. One of the things that fascinated me about this film was the thought that we all go to this neutral place that seems like a familiar setting--a house, a street, a building, a ship? That thought is actually comforting to me.
The ever so handsome~John Garfield.
One by one they fall away, each going where they are meant to be. A really interesting character is named Thomas Pior, played by the amazing John Garfield. I highly and I mean highly recommend seeing any of his films--he was a phenomenal actor. Well his character who is filled with the fear of the unknown is saved by a woman he doesn't even know But she knows him---its his mother. She gave him up when he was a baby to have a better life in America. She gives up her beautiful garden in Heaven to have the chance to take care of him in--well--the other place. A mother's love---powerful.
After all the characters disappear from the ship, poor Henry and Ann are left behind because they were suicides. Henry is destined to stay aboard til he redeems himself and Ann who is given the chance to go into Heaven gives it up just to be with him. The thought of living without him and the thought of the afterlife without him was unbearable to her. As she turns around to see how he is doing she finds that he disappeared.
Truth is he was sent back for another chance. As soon as Henry entered back into his original body he opened the windows and was able to revive Ann. Realizing they were both given the gift of a second chance they vowed to cherish their lives.
I love happy endings don't you? I thought that film wasn't going to have one but it did. The performances from all the actors were outstanding. This film is hard to find but if you do find it somewhere defiantly watch it.
"The Spiral Staircase" (1946)
There is a serial killer who only kills disabled young women. Man, that sounds creepy already doesn't it? Dorothy McGuire stars as Helen who has become mute due to a traumatic experience. She is the companion of a wealthy, bedridden, Mrs. Warren, played but the talented Ethel Barrymore.
Ethel Barrymore in her early years of acting.
Does that name Barrymore sound a little familiar? She was the sister of John and Lionel Barrymore (both fantastic actors!) and the great aunt of a little blond girl who did an even smaller movie called, E.T. Yes! Drew Barrymore! You just have to love Hollywood!!! I know I do!
Ms. Barrymore as she was during "The Spiral Staircase"
Okay so enough of the useless but often fun information---Helen is warned by Mrs. Warren to leave the house immediately but she doesn't. As the movie progresses she finds a dead body down the spiral staircase leading to the basement. She tries calling the police but could not find her voice.
"The Spiral Staircase" (1946)
Her doctor played by Kent Smith thought that another traumatic event could shake her to speak. While I was watching the movie everyone seems guilty to me. Well, except the poor cook who drank too much whiskey and fell asleep by the fireplace. LOL
The movie ends with a climax that both surprises and says, "WOW" to you. I mean when the old and bedridden Mrs. Warren is seen with a gun in her hand at the top of the spiral staircase having shot her stepson who is played by George Brent---you are left having a "WOW" movie moment for sure! He dies and its revealed that he was the serial killer.
You then see Helen run to the phone calling for help and finally, finally finding her voice!
Watching an learning about these classic films makes my mouth water--seriously I mean that. I love studying people and film just allows you not only to study characters but the people behind those characters. So many of them lived such complicated and often dramatic lives!
I hope this suspenseful and thrill seeking double feature kept you on your toes! I know it did for me!!