It is difficult to remember who first screened the Sutton Vane play, "Outward Bound," but it has been done before, and many of its ideas have been repeated in such films as "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" and "A Guy Named Joe." Warner Brothers' current re-make is a bit too well cast, for in order to do justice to Paul Henreid, John Garfield, Sidney Greenstreet, George Coulouris, Edmund Gwenn, and a host of others, they have made a haunting idea into a long and talky picture.
Basically, "Between Two Worlds," like "Outward Bound" is about a bunch of spirits on their way to Judgement Day aboard a crewless ship: a fanciful situation, certainly, but one that invites toying with. Warners have used their limitless celluloid element a little too freely, and where the passengers are sailing blissfully along, not yet realizing they are on a ghost ship, they are ignoring the fact that they are sailing on clouds--at least they looked like clouds to us. That error was avoided, necessarily, on the stage.
"Between Two Worlds" achieves a dramatic excellence that hits you between the eyes at only one point--where big and jovial Sidney Greenstreet as the Examiner interviews the applicants for admission into the Beyond. While a false air of attempted spiritual tone ruins the atmosphere in most of the rest of the movie, here Greenstreet does an inspired job.
Henreid tries to make love like Boyer and falls miserably, while smart-aleck Garfield, though he often over-plays his supporting part, steals the show. A verbal tiff between Coulouris and Garfield, injects a little social consciousness into the story, with good effect. Except for Henreid and a young woman whose name is new and easily forgotten, "Between Two Worlds" is well acted and well directed; it's just too long and knocks itself from grade A by artificial loftiness. jgt