Cast & Crew
Edward A. Blatt
In 1944, in an English port, Henry Bergner, a Viennese pianist who joined the Free French Forces, begs a clerk for a place on board a ship leaving for the United States. When Henry's appeal is denied because he lacks an exit visa, he stumbles through the streets. A short time later, during an air raid, Henry's wife Ann searches for her husband in the street and witnesses a bomb strike a taxi carrying a group of passengers, including cynical reporter Tom Prior; Maxine Russell, a minor actress; snobbish Genevieve Cliveden-Banks and her mild-mannered husband Benjamin; Merchant Marine Pete Musick; housekeeper Mrs. Midget, Reverend William Duke, and Lingley, a powerful businessman. In despair because he has been psychologically damaged by the war and is is no longer able to work as a pianist, Henry decides to commit suicide. Ann arrives home in the midst of his preparations and, unwilling to live without her husband, insists on joining him in death. After inhaling gas fumes from the stove, they wake to find themselves wandering the corridors of a ship along with the taxi passengers who were killed during the bombing. Henry and Ann soon realize that everyone on board is dead, but Scrubby, the steward, asks them to keep this information to themselves. Later, the passengers gather in the lounge. When Lingley angrily berates Scrubby, Tom reveals that the industrialist had him fired after he wrote an exposé on him. After Tom leaves the room, Maxine confesses to Lingley that she is a failure as an actress. Meanwhile, Pete tells anyone who will listen that he is traveling home to his wife Connie and a baby whom he has never seen. Reverend Duke has realized that he has been too isolated from his congregation and plans to broaden his horizons with travel. On deck, Mrs. Midget tells Tom her dream of retiring to a cottage with a garden. Later, Tom overhears Ann and Henry conversing and learns that they are all dead. During an entertainment arranged by Pete and Duke, Tom puts on a magic show and ends by shooting Lingley with his own gun. As Lingley is already dead, he is unaffected by the shot, and thus the truth of their situation is revealed to the rest of the passengers. When Lingley tries to buy his way out, Scrubby announces that all will come before an examiner, the former Reverend Frank Thompson, a friend of Duke's. Thompson tells the contrite Duke that he will be given an opportunity to mingle with the people as he had hoped when he, too, becomes an examiner. Lingley is informed that his lack of human feelings has condemned him. Next Mrs. Cliveden-Banks is granted her wish for a castle, but is told that she will be alone for eternity. Her long-suffering husband, on the other hand, will rejoin friends from his Capetown youth. A demurely dressed Maxine kisses Tom goodbye and leaves with Lingley. Tom is told that in the future, he will be forced to see himself as he is. Even though Mrs Midget is told that a cottage with a garden is waiting for her, she offers to join Tom. Thompson informs Duke that Mrs. Midget is Tom's mother, who gave up her child as a baby and will now be with him for eternity. Pete protests that his death is unfair, but Thompson soothes him with the information that he will rejoin his wife and child after their deaths. Henry is told that as a suicide, he is condemned to act as a steward to the newly dead just as Scrubby does, but that Ann, who acted out of love, may join Thompson. Ann, however, refuses to leave Henry. Impressed by Ann's love, Scrubby speaks on behalf of the couple, and a short while later, they awake in their room. The couple discovers that air coming through a window broken during a bombing raid has dissipated the gas, and, having learned there is still much to live for, they are returned to life.
Edward A. Blatt
Frederick De Cordova
Leo F. Forbstein
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Clare A. Riggs
Between Two Worlds
Though based on sturdy source material, Between Two Worlds faced a lukewarm reception from critics who decried its attempts at modernized slang and the present-day framing device which completely removed any element of surprise from the supernatural mid-story twist. However, it now holds more value as a prime example of the World War II "communal effort" film (see Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat  for a similar example) in which characters of various social and financial strata are united to face a common obstacle in this case, the hereafter itself.
The film also offers a prime opportunity to enjoy an early leading role for Garfield (shortly after his legal name changed from Julius Garfinkle), who would face traumatic HUAC hearings and a tragically premature death at the age of 39 in the following decade. Casablanca (1942) co-stars Henreid and Greenstreet appear together again here, albeit in very different roles. In his autobiography, Ladies' Man, Henreid recalled Garfield as "bright and pleasant, though somewhat naive, and we got along very well. John had to learn card tricks for the part, and he became tremendously excited about them. He practiced constantly, and bored all of us with them."
Making her first lead appearance, Eleanor Parker (remembered worldwide as the Baroness in The Sound of Music, 1965) adapted to the demands of a major Hollywood film and established an instant rapport with the married Garfield, who enlisted her as his leading lady the following year in Pride of the Marines (1945), much to the gossip columnists' delight. While this film was shooting, Garfield, Parker, Henreid and Greenstreet spent their off hours on another soundstage appearing in the star-studded Hollywood Canteen (1944), which paired leading man Garfield (again displaying his flashy cardsharp skills) with Bette Davis.
Though most of the film's behind-the-camera talent did not achieve much recognition beyond this project, film score aficionados will instantly recognize the handiwork of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, one of Warner Bros.' most venerable (if not prolific) musical talents who had lent his skills to The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and other significant swashbucklers and period dramas. Here his classical approach underscores the Henreid character, a despairing concert pianist whose inability to use his hands is lifted when, on the boat, his musical gifts return full force an aspect which obviously appealed to one of Hollywood's most legendary composers.
Producer: Mark Hellinger, Jack L. Warner
Director: Edward A. Blatt
Screenplay: Daniel Fuchs, Sutton Vane (play)
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Film Editing: Rudi Fehr
Art Direction: Hugh Reticker
Music: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cast: John Garfield (Tom Prior), Paul Henreid (Henry Bergner), Sydney Greenstreet (Reverend Tim Thompson), Eleanor Parker (Ann Bergner), Edmund Gwenn (Scrubby), George Tobias (Pete Musick).
BW-112m. Closed captioning.
by Nathaniel Thompson
Between Two Worlds
This film marked Edward A. Blatt's first directorial effort. Sutton Vane's play was also the basis for the 1930 Warner Bros. film Outward Bound, directed by Robert Milton and starring Leslie Howard and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4088).