- Jun 24, 2003
- Real Name
- Michael Osadciw
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1940
U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: G
Film Length: 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.37:1
Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $14.98
Release Date: NOW
Film Rating: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:
Starring: Charles Winninger (Michael O’Brien), C. Aubrey Smith (Alan ‘Chad’ Chadwick), Harry Carer (George Melton), Richard Carlson (James Houston), Jean Parker (Jean Lawrence), Helen Vinson (Arlene Terry)
Directed by: A. Edward Sutherland
Written by: Mildred Cram & Adele Comandini
What these three missed in life, they share with young romance in…
Beyond Christmas was the holiday title of 1940 that centered around three business men looking for some holiday cheer. After their guests cancels dinner on them, Michael O’Brien has an idea; he and his two friends Chad and Michael throw their wallets out the window with ten dollars and their card inside in hopes that whomever finds it will bring it back to them and join them for dinner.
The idea proves successful as two of the wallets come back. One wallet arrives by a young lady named Jean Lawrence. She’s spending Christmas alone so she’s delighted to be invited for dinner. The second wallet arrives by a young man from Texas named James Houston. He came to the city to look for work, and will not be spending Christmas in Texas.
Beyond this evening, the five of these people become best friends. James and Jean progress a romance to the point of announcing their engagement plans to the men. Unfortunately, a winter store takes their lives as they fly into a Pennsylvanian mountain. From this point on, the men are unseen and walk the Earth and hope to help the two of them cope with the tragedy, as well as preventing the couple from falling into their own demise. Forgiveness and good deeds opens the passage to the heavens above where they can rest peacefully forever while James and Jean can continue their lives as they were destined to.
As entertaining as it is, the film really changes direction half way through. The first half’s focus is about the three businessmen, but it really just sets up the film for its second half. When the three of them died, I was surprised to see how little of a role they played in the remainder of the film. This is too bad because Charles Winninger had an excellent performance during the first half. The focus of the film moved to James and Jean almost entirely, only to have the three ghostly men appear only when trouble was brewing. I felt this made the film a slightly awkward watch as the remaining subplots developed and concluded. I also felt this film was trying to be too safe with audiences as if it had a potential to offend; heaven or hell were not mentioned specifically, nor God and the Angels. The film portrays these ideas and images as concepts, but never directly mentions any of it. Regardless, the film has good intentions, but falls short from being a Christmas classic.
The film is presented in both the original black and white version and the 2004 colorized version. The running time on the colorized version is about a minute and thirty-five seconds longer to accommodate the additional credits.
VIDEO QUALITY :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:
Time has not been kind to this film, or possibly neglect to the original source is the issue here. The transfer of the film is fine since there is very little edge enhancement or compression artefacts to speak of. The problems I see aren’t a problem of IVC’s work of transferring this print. The print is very problematic in almost every way. The faded image on this release results in a loss of resolution. While there are a few good looking scenes - most notable in close-up shots - for the most part, faces look bleached and undefined in terms of features. Detail is very lacking, and it seems as if the colorization of the film would help the drawbacks in image quality. Well, it doesn’t. Like many colorizations, flesh tones look more like a ‘silly putty’ pink rather than natural, and the remaining colours are limited in terms of saturation.
Dirt and film specks plague the image throughout the movie, and the black level is sometimes higher than normal. What is very annoying is the shakiness of the image. It appears its floating moving left-right, up down in tiny amounts. It looks like a ‘steady-shot’ feature is needed when transferring film to video.
AUDIO QUALITY :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:
The DVD jacket is incorrectly labelled as Dolby Digital 1.0 when in fact it is 2.0 mono. For a mono soundtrack, it is distorted sounding during music passages and very limited in terms of space and dynamics. The dialogue and effects sound jumbled together on this old recording. Dialogue is a major focus in this soundtrack, but it can sound strained and limited in range compared to other mono recordings. Tape hiss, clicks and pops can be heard throughout, as well as changes in pitch as well as speed in the music.
SPECIAL FEATURES :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:
There are a few special features on here. Oddly enough, the original black and white version appears as a special feature instead of an option when the ‘play movie’ button is pushed. What I really love on this disc is the vintage holiday extras. These short clips include a Bob Hope in Jingle Bells short, a piece by Bette Davis to encourage everyone to buy war bonds to help American soldiers overseas, and another clip to tell people to help fight tuberculosis in the holiday season of 1936. Pretty cool stuff!
Two trailers appear on this disc, including one for Beyond Christmas. It’s the trailer for this “Legend Films” release distributed by FOX. And lastly, five deleted scenes totalling about just under five minutes in length are included here. According to IMBD, the film’s length is 84 minutes, but the film on this DVD is 79 minutes. I’m not sure if this release is the theatrical film in its entirety, or if these scenes were excised recently for some reason. These scenes appear colorized as well, so some work has been put into them.
IN THE END…
Beyond Christmas is not the greatest film restoration I’ve ever seen. I’d wonder if it was even restored at all. I have the feeling its more of a re-mastering since a FOX restoration of an older title is far better than this (Beyond Christmas isn’t a studio classic, it’s an RKO picture, thus can’t be included in the studio classic line-up). At least this film is available in both black and white and colorized to please everyone. I enjoyed this film and it’s worth the watch to get that warm and fuzzy indoor feeling of watching a movie when it’s snowing outside around Christmas.