Monday, August 20, 2007

Film Breakdown - Mystery - Between Two Worlds (1944)


1. 1:00 - Opening credits. Ends: 0:01:00

2. 4:41 - An overhead announcement system addresses passengers about to board their America-bound ships out of Wartime London (WW II). In the event of an air raid, they are encouraged NOT to ask any questions. The last group to be called are eager to board and get underway; taxies and buses will shuttle them to the docks.


An impatient businessman named Lingley (George Coulouris) inquires about two of his employees with whom he’s become separated - he tries to exert his influence in getting them found in order to be with him... however, he is told to sit down and wait patiently.


Henry Bergner (Paul Henreid) - a former concert pianist - is at the front desk inquiring about immediate passage to America; however, he is told that as an Austrian citizen, his exit permit could take six months to process and he cannot leave before then.

The members of the final boarding group are called. Henry stands to one side and watches them leave without him. Then an air raid siren goes off! The passengers in the last group have already left the building and now the remaining staff scramble to take cover in the shelter. Ends: 0:05:41

3. 1:11 - Outside, the car has filled up with the final group and they’re about to leave when a woman named Ann Bergner (Eleanor Parker) runs up to them; she is looking for Henry.

Lingley shoves her aside and the car takes off. Just then the invading bombers drop their ordnance and the street explodes; the large car containing the passengers is obliterated.


Knowing that Henry wasn’t in the destroyed car, the woman enters the building but he’s no-longer there. Ends: 0:06:52

4. 0:55 - Montage - Henry arrives back at his flat; Anne rushes through the London streets. Henry sets up a gramophone record and plays some music while he sits in a chair. Anne finally arrives at their flat.
Ends: 0:07:47

5. 2:03 - Anne admonishes Henry for attempting to leave the country - leave her - by trying to book steerage at the Steamship Office. She notices towels and assorted clothes sealing the vents and the windows; Henry is trying to commit suicide by gassing himself. Henry tells Anne they should never have met, never have married - he’s incapable of working or using his hands. He wants her to live on without him. She insists they go everywhere together. The sound of bombs landing on London can be heard outside. The hiss of escaping gas from the gaslight seeps into their room. Ends: 0:09:50


6. 1:32 - The steamship blows its horn announcing its departure. Henry and Anne walk down a corridor - slightly confused - inside the ship and slowly make their way to a lounge area where other guests are seated inside. Ends: 0:11:22

7. 0:06 - A stewart named Scrubby (Edmund Glenn) tends to the group of passengers in the lounge. Ends: 0:11:28


8. 1:19 - Henry and Ann look in from the outside (through the glass) and witness Scrubby verify everyone’s ticket. Ann is shocked to discover that she personally witnessed those same people die in the street explosion during the bombing raid. Henry and Ann discover what has happened at the exact same time - they are all dead. They know they are sailing but not where. Henry takes Ann inside an empty room to get out of the cold. Ends: 0:12:47

9. Henry spots a grand piano up on stage in the empty room. He is drawn towards it and sits down. He begin to play a melody and Ann joins him on stage. Henry is amazed to see that his hands are now steady - he can play the piano once again! Ends: 0:15:26


10. 2:02 - Scrubby smiles to himself as he hears the piano music play in the other room. Scrubby is tending the bar and a couple sits there... they are a cynical reporter Tom (John Garfield) and his companion Maxine (Faye Emerson) who is an actress.


A little further away stands the Rev. William Duke (Dennis King) and Mrs. Midget (Sara Allgood). The priest tells the older lady that he isn’t feeling well and is going to his room to lie down for a spell. She isn’t surprised, after all they’ve been through today. They’re both confused and cannot remember very much - this is soon remedied by Scrubby who approaches the couple and suggests the sea air might be responsible.


Over by a table, the upper-class couple sit alone. He is Ben (Gilbert Emery) and his wife Genevieve (Isobel Elson) appears irritated by the piano music. Ben feels the exact opposite - it reminds him of a different era and he’s quite enjoying himself. Ends: 0:17:28

11. 3:42 - Over by the bar, Maxine proposes that she and Tom break off their relationship. She accuses him of being a broken-down newspaperman who drinks too much. Lingley makes an entrance and wants to speak to Scrubby... apparently he’s upset that his employees aren’t on board. Scrubby assures him they are not on-board and he won’t be needing them. Lingley is upset, all the more so when Tom begins a confrontation. As a reporter, Tom happens to know that the missing members of Lingley’s staff are - in fact - bodyguards. Lingley tells Tom to mind his own business and asks Scrubby to bring him brandy.
Ends: 0:21:10

12. 1:28 - Tom is suspicious about something Scrubby said to Lingley. He is further confused when Scruffy tells him there will be no charge for his drinks at the bar. Ends: 0:22:38

13. 1:37 - Maxine makes her way over to Lingley and asks if he’ll mind her joining him. Ends: 0:24:15

14. 4:03 - Henry and Ann are no longer alone. Though too preoccupied with his piano playing to notice, a passenger has joined Henry and Ann and is secretly enjoying the sound of music. He is Pete and is a Merchant Marine going home to the United States.


Pete is very cheerful and chatty; he notices Henry and Ann’s glumness and tries to reassure them because he believes they’re worried about the journey across the ocean and the danger from submarines. Pete tells them his wife Connie is expecting him, together with a new baby. Henry and Ann’s mood does not improve... they are incredulous and ask if Pete “knows”? Pete doesn’t know what the devil they’re on about. As Henry ponders just how to spell it all out for Pete, they are interrupted by the arrival of Scrubby who tells them that dinner is ready and about to be served. Once Pete has left the room, Scrubby tells Henry and Ann that nobody else “knows” and that’s how it should remain... they all have to find out for themselves. Ends: 0:28:18

15. 1:49 - A restless Tom smokes outside on deck and strikes up a conversation with the elderly Mrs. Midget who sits outside taking in the night air. She claims she loves nature, has always wanted a cottage by the sea. However, she’s always lived in the city. Tom takes her down to dinner. Ends: 0:30:07

16. 1:44 - Henry is gung-ho to tell the other passengers about the truth about their circumstances. Ann pleads with him to do as Scrubby wants... to say nothing and have everyone find out in their own way, in their own time. Henry doesn’t think it is right; besides, what can they do to them for disobeying? Ann points out that she and Henry can still get separated. They sit and kiss... and are interrupted by Maxine, who passes them on her way to dinner. Maxine wants to know if it’s true... the way love feels, that is. She wants to know if it’s all it is cracked-up to be. Without waiting for an answer, the unhappy Maxine moves on, away from Henry and Ann. Despite Ann’s reluctance, Henry persuades her to accompany him to dinner with the others. Ends: 0:31:51

17. 4:40 - Dinner time finds our passengers at a single large table in the Grand Dining Saloon. Pete is trying to cheer everyone up, but nobody seems interested. Henry and Ann enter the room and Tom is curious to know who they are... he then remembers Henry as having been rejected for passage at the Steamship Office. Pete announces that his wife has given birth to a daughter. The Rev. Duke comes in for dinner, having overslept. He announces to everyone that his big plan is to travel everywhere and speak to people... he’s been stuck at home in his parish for long enough. Ann hears this and runs out of the room - the agony of these poor people all being so optimistic, yet not knowing what fate has actually befallen them is too much for her to bear in silence. Henry runs out after her. Everyone at the table is mildly curious but Tom alone is starting to suspect something sinister. Ends: 0:36:31


18. 3:16 - Henry joins Ann outside on the deck. She is distraught about the ultimate fate of these passengers who carry on with their plans in blissful ignorance. Now Lingley joins them outside... seems he’s real keen (still) to have a bodyguard and to that end offers Henry money to take Lingley’s gun and provide this service. When Henry refuses, Lingley simply ups the offer price. Behind Lingley, henry sees Scrubby nodding secretly to take Lingley’s offer. Henry accepts and Lingley leaves to have his after-dinner coffee. Ann admonishes Henry for accepting the job as bodyguard... Henry defends himself by asking what difference can it make? She counters that she and Henry are different from all the rest... they are suicides. It is at this point that they detect the presence of Tom on the staircase; seems he has heard everything. When Henry pleads with Tom not to say anything to the others, Tom is incredulous... of course he’ll not say anything! He relishes the thought of knowing all this while they do not! Ends: 0:39:47


19. 6:43 - Maxine the actress is on deck after dinner. She is alone but looks through the window into the bar and contemplates the sight of Lingley. She’s almost thinking that hooking-up with him would be her ticket out of the small league and into the big-time. She enters the bar area but sits away from everyone else, though she catches Lingley’s eye. Benjamin and Genevieve sit together at a nearby table... Genevieve asks Ben to invite Lingley over to their table. Meanwhile, Lingley asks Scrubby to supply his room with champagne & caviar for two. Seems he has plans for this evening and pays Scrubby to keep quiet. Genevieve prods Ben further to invite Lingley over to their table, but instead Ben walks over to another table and sits with Rev. Duke and Pete the Merchant Marine. Lingley makes a move to head towards maxine but is intercepted by Genevieve who asks if he’ll join them for a game of Bridge. Genevieve admits they need a fourth player but when Mrs. Midget volunteers to asks Tom Prior, Lingley panics at the thought of sharing an evening with the nosy reporter. Genevieve mocks Mrs. Midget somewhat, as though the lower-class woman is somehow attempting to fraternize with high-class people of means. This is witnessed by Tom who can’t resist but to mock Genevieve Cliveden-Banks in return. Genevieve is insulted enough to leave. Tom then starts on Longley, hinting very strongly that he’s no-longer important. Lingley too leaves and this time Pete wants to know just what Tom is selling. Tom talks in more riddles and performs a card trick for the men at the table: Pete, Rev. Duke and Ben... all are suitably impressed but Tom simply explains it all away with more riddles and cryptic remarks. Tom leaves the men and exits the bar room.
Ends: 0:46:36

20. 5:07 - Lingley has joined Maxine out on deck. He seems conflicted (or is it shyness?) and asks her to join him for supper. She’s not sure if she should accept but he tells her she won’t regret it. He knows exactly what she wants and will make sure she gets it. He begins a monologue, telling her how much he needs her. As he is about to make his move, Tom appears out of the shadows and claps his appreciation for the show. Lingley threatens Tom but leaves upon Maxine’s insistence. Alone together, Tom and Maxine chat. He asks her if she knows just what she’s doing. Ends: 0:51:43

21. 1:34 - Back in the Bar, the Rev. Duke and Pete approach Tom who enters the room and heads for a drink. They proposition him to perform some of his card tricks at a gathering they have planned (to cheer everyone up). Tom agrees to help entertain everyone. Ends: 0:53:17


22. 11:30 - When everyone is assembled in the piano room, Tom takes the stage and holds everyone captive with a showman-like speech. Tom asks Henry for the cash (obtained from Lingley) and sets it on fire. Everyone is amazed, but only because they figure no sane person would do such a thing. They don’t know that Tom knows things such as cash no longer have any meaning. Lingley challenges Tom (he’s worried about the cash) and inadvertently volunteers himself to be in the next act. Tom takes Lingley’s gun from Henry and points it at Lingley; he shoots point-blank into Lingley’s chest! Lingley collapses.. then gets up when he cottons-on to the fact that he has not been shot. Lingley wants to know how Tom did this! Tom admits it was simple... he was dead in the first place! The others make polite laughter but it’s clearly nervous laughter.

Pete decides the fun & games are over. He orders everyone back to their cabins. Perhaps he already suspects that what Tom has stated is true - if so, he’s in denial. Tom suggests that any skeptics should question Henry and Ann standing in the corner. They “know” and can verify what he’s claimed. Henry claims it is all a mistake but Scrubby now enters the room and verifies everything. Each passenger now deals with the impact of this... everyone resigns themselves (eventually) to the news. Scrubby advises them all to simply accept everything; it is all quite simple. All that remains is the “examination“. This gets a reaction from everyone. The Examiner will asks question, judge and set them all on their separate roads for eternity. Maxine leaves. Mrs. Midget asks the Rev. Duke for a prayer... he can’t think of one, though he does remember a few lines of truth that meant a lot to him. He recites these lines and everyone stands in quiet. Ends: 1:04:47

23. 4:45 - Henry helps Scrubby set the chairs in one of the rooms. Ann sits quietly towards the back, out of their way. Henry wonders over to Ann and asks himself why he is helping Scrubby; it just seems so natural. Ann quizzes Scrubby about how many trips he has made on this boat... he reveals five thousand, ten thousand.. he can’t remember. He is about to reveal his story when the sound of the launch approaching can be heard. the Examiner has arrived.

Scrubby summons the others and asks that they take their seats. Lingley is super polite and even invited Mrs. Midget to sit with him. Genevieve offers Mrs. Midget the same courtesy. Mrs. Midget however sits away from them. Lingley asks for everyone’s attention - seems he has a proposal... to offer to speak to the Examiner on behalf of everyone. He needs their blessing though. Most refuse and hearing the bells toll, Tom rubs it in to Lingley that it is Judgement Day.
Ends: 1:09:32

24. 7:19 - The Examiner (Sydney Greenstreet) arrives and motions everyone to sit down. He is big and imposing, dressed in white. He greets Scrubby warmly.

He next asks about ”bunny“ and it turns out he’s referring to Rev. William Duke, who recognizes The Examiner and walks over to greet him warmly also. The Rev. is told he’ll have to change in this world - he’ll have to mingle, walk around, meet everyone. This is exactly what we know the Rev. wanted to do when we first met him (almost).

Lingley approached the Examiner and attempts to exert some influence. When it’s obvious this won’t work, he all but threatens The Examiner. When he’s dismissed summarily, Scrubby approaches him and asks that Lingley follow him. When Lingley protests that he has yet to be judged, Scrubby confirms that this has already taken place. We hear Lingley’s backstory and he’s told that here you can’t buy anything. Lingley is led away by Scrubby. Though never stated, the implication is that he’s not going to Heaven.

The Examiner motions to Henry and demands that Henry join The Examiner and his new apprentice, Rev. Duke. When Ann attempts to join him, the Examiner states he is to come alone. Henry refuses to abandon Ann but she encourages him to do as he’s told and join the two other men. It appears they’re all going into an adjacent room and have each passenger enter individually. Ends: 1:16:51

25. 22:04 - The Examiner and Rev. Duke enter the adjacent room. Henry enters and is told to sit to one side while the two other men take their place at the table.

Genevieve enters, all smiles and super polite. So refined. She says she’ll be brief - what she wants is a villa. A large one. The Examiner reassures her that she will have what she’s asked for... in fact, he’s to give her a castle. She’s very pleased and gets up to leave. She invites them all to dine with her at her castle. However, it’s at this point that the Examiner reveals that this will be impossible... nobody will ever be able to come and see her. She is to be alone for all eternity. The Examiner accuses her of adultery and as she’s hurt Ben, it’s unlikely he’ll want to join her in her castle. She claims Ben never knew; however, Scrubby has fetched Ben from the other room and Ben is there to testify at Genevieve’s trial that ”he always knew“. Ben won’t be joining her at her castle. She puts her brave face on it and leaves the room.

The Examiner gets up and motions for Ben to get going. All of his old friends are already waiting for him. This comes as quite a surprise to Ben. He can now play golf forever. He leaves the room. Tom barges into the room and demands his trial.

Before he does anything, The Examiner talks to Maxine who enters where the group was sitting... she is dressed in very sombre clothing, quite distinct from what she was wearing earlier. The Examiner says goodbye to Maxine; she has muddied herself but she’s got hope there. She leaves, escorted by Scrubby.

Tom offers The Examiner double-or-nothing... he wants to gamble. If Tom wins, he wants a real death. If he loses, he’ll do whatever The Examiner says as judge. The Examiner takes a card and Tom draws... but loses. Tom shuffles again... the Examiner takes a car... and Tom loses (he tries to cheat but it doesn’t work here, with The Examiner). Tom is resigned to his fate. The Examiner tells him there’s no catch - he can leave whenever he wants. There is just one thing though... he will see himself for what he really is. He can fake things no longer.

Mrs. Midget enters and offers to look after Tom. This is what he needs; looking after. The Examiner offers her the very thing she wanted - a little cottage by the sea (with a garden). She’s happy but Tom cannot join them. Mrs. Midget gives up the cottage in order to follow Tom and help him out. Tom walks away, claiming he’s not worth the sacrifice. She leaves with Tom well ahead... The Examiner reveals that she is Tom’s mother. This is why she wants to help him... she abandoned him as a child. She leaves.

Pete is beckoned into the room by the Examiner. He has nothing to talk about - he feels he got a raw deal and is really upset. It’s not fair. The Examiner tells Pete he’s here for the best of reasons - protecting his country from evil. Also, he reassures Pete that eventually everybody winds up there... it’s only a matter of time before he sees all his loved ones. The prospects cheer him up considerably. The Examiner tells him we make our Heaven or Hell for ourselves on Earth, and only bring it there once it has already been established. Some people waste their time on Earth, while others (looking at Henry) toss their lives aside. Pete however used his life as it was intended... for him - here - there will be nothing but peace and joy forever more. Pete leaves. Ends: 1:38:55

26. 4:33 - The Examiner makes a move to leave. The Rev. and Henry ask what is to become of Henry...? And Ann? The Examiner says his work is done. What about their trials, asks Henry? The Examiner tells him there will be no trial for him. They took matters into their own hands. Henry’s wife (Ann) will join The Examiner in going ashore.

Scrubby approaches Henry and reveals that he too took his own life - they died the same way. Their fate as suicides is to venture back & forth, on this ship or others like it. That’s the penalty. Henry runs to Ann in the next room and feels guilty that they cannot be together. Ann cannot leave him here alone. Henry wants her to go ashore. Ann refuses... she will not leave Henry. The Examiner and the Rev Duke leave. Scrubby goes outside and appeals to The Examiner to do something... he must speak up on their behalf. Won’t The Examiner help them somehow? The Examiner leaves.
Ends: 1:43:28

27. 2:25 - Scrubby rejoins Henry and Ann in the big empty room but leaves to talk among themselves while he cleans up by the bar. Henry is mystified by what he hears as breaking glass; Ann can’t hear anything. He leaves the room and Scrubby warns her to not let Henry be by himself for too long. Henry begins to play the piano next door. Scrubby tells Ann to go to Henry - to stay close to him. Ends: 1:45:53

28. 3:49 - Ann enters Henry’s piano room. Henry is moody & depressed but Ann tells him they’re together and that’s all that matters. Henry stops playing... again he can hear that noise, the noise of breaking glass. Henry leaves the room - he needs to think outside. He leaves. Scrubby warns Ann not to leave him alone... to call him back. She eventually agrees and steps outside. Henry has disappeared! She pleads with Scrubby to do something. he tells her it is useless... he knows what has happened. Henry has gone back. She looks for him. Ends: 1:49:42


29. Dissolve to the gramophone record playing in Henry and Ann’s flat. The window has been shattered and Henry lies on the floor, seemingly dead but he stirs and jumps up. He runs over to the window, then over to the unconscious Ann. He pleads with her to wake up - the raid broke their window and the fresh air has saved them! He wants her to come back to him. She wakes up. They’re alive... there’s so much to do, so much to live for. They kiss.


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