Holiday Classics: “Beyond Tomorrow” (1940)

In the grand scheme of classic holiday films, the 1940 drama “Beyond Tomorrow” remains largely forgotten. It’s rather a shame, because it’s quite a charming story, about three wealthy but lonely businessmen—George (Harry Carey), Allan (C. Aubrey Smith), and Michael (Charles Winninger) who find themselves without guests on Christmas Eve. Each man decides to throw his wallet out the window, and see who returns it. One of the wallets is never returned; the other two are brought back by a young country singer, James Houston (Richard Carlson), and a lovely young woman named Jean (Jean Parker). The group quickly becomes close friends, and Jean and James fall in love under the guiding hand of their benefactors. Then tragedy strikes; all three older men are killed in an airplane crash. But they return to Earth as ghosts, silently guiding Jean and James together as they grow apart due to James’ increasing fame as a singer.

The heaven sequence in “Beyond Tomorrow”

“Beyond Tomorrow” benefits greatly from the performances of great characters actors in the leading roles. Carey, Smith, and Winninger give each of the men distinct personalities, from cuddly to crusty, but ultimately they’re all charming. Carlson and Parker are adorable, and Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya, best known for playing the gypsy fortuneteller in the 1941 classic “The Wolf Man”, makes an appearance as a countess who lives with the three old men.

“Beyond Tomorrow”, which begins as a rather light-hearted story, takes a rather dark, dramatic, and perhaps quite bizarre turn toward the end, but it culminates in a beautiful heaven sequence that still holds up well today. It remains, however, a little seen classic. In 2004—after falling into the public domain for years—20th Century Fox released a restored, colorized version of the movie under the title “Beyond Christmas”. Fortunately, you can still watch the black-and-white version, with the original, not-intended-to-capitalize-on-a-popular-holiday title, and the special effects are all the more haunting and impressive.

“Beyond Tomorrow” is currently streaming on Epix and for free on Tubi TV. It is also airing on Turner Classic Movies on the following dates:

Sunday, December 20th at 8:30 AM EST

Friday, December 25th at 3:45 AM EST

Runtime: 84 minutes

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