Earthbound (1940)

Genres - Crime, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Heaven-Can-Wait Fantasies  |   Run Time - 67 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The 1940 version of Earthbound carries a very topical message, courtesy of screenwriters Samuel G. Engel and John Howard Lawson. There are several reminders about the reality of the Second World War scattered throughout the script, which considerably updates the 1920 Goldwyn version, as well as simplifying the plot and narrowing the time-frame of the action. And while the characters and setting, as well as the broader plot here are obviously drawn from Basil King's original story, one can also detect some of the influence of Molnar's Liliom, and also of Frank Borzage's 1930 film of the latter (which was done for Fox). The topicality gave it an immediacy in 1940 that probably helped it overcome the incredulity of some of the plot elements, and the acting -- above average even for a Foc B-title -- holds up today, along with Irving Pichel's direction, even if the sentimentality seems dated.