Outward Bound Film Details
Overview: Later remade as “Between Two Worlds.”
Review: The written prologue before the credits in “Outward Bound” asks the audience to cordially put themselves in the same position as the first night audience and believe the deep sincerity that Warners tried to bring to their talkie feature. Sutton Vane’s eerie, allegorical stage melodrama about the destination of the human soul was certainly the most striking Broadway play of the 1924 season (144 performances) but it really polarized audiences of the time. When Warner Bros. bought it to the screen they retained Beryl Mercer, Dudley Digges, Lyonel Watts and in his film debut Leslie Howard, all from the original cast but even though the New York Times listed it as 6th best film of the year it was not a success. The film starts out conventionally enough with young lovers Henry and Ann (Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. and the lovely Helen Chandler) planning to leave on a trip and worrying about what might happen to their dog, Laddie – the truth is they are planning to leave life itself. They find themselves on a fog enshrouded boat along with a group of assorted passengers – alcoholic writer Tom Prior (Leslie Howard), a snobby dowager, Mrs. Cliveden-Banks (Alison Skipworth), a nervous priest (Lyonel Watts), a kindly charwoman, Mrs. Midget (Beryl Mercer) and a ruthless industrialist (Montague Love). They are all greeted by the steward, Scrubby (Alec B. Francis) but, oddly enough, none of them can remember their destination. Despite drinking heavily Prior soon sobers up to the fact that they are all lost souls on their way to Heaven – “and Hell too” Scrubby confirms his fears. The first half is an extremely static movie that would be enjoyed a lot more by the viewer who knew nothing about the story. Prior spends a lot of time trying to convince the skeptical passengers of their true destination. The boat has no captain or crew or lights. The only lights are eerie rays that come from the cabin and light up the boat like a halo. The film brightens up a bit when “The Examiner” comes on board and Dudley Digges plays him as a weather beaten old rascal. All the passengers are to be interviewed by him to determine their placing (whether they go to Heaven or Hell). It definitely quickens the pace of the movie and there are no prizes for guessing where Skipworth and Love are bound for!!! The vicar and “The Examiner” are old friends and the latter is quick to reassure him that he will always have a job continuing on his missionary work helping the poor. Beryl Mercer’s role is a real surprise packet and unlike other comments I have read I did not find her whiney!!! I thought she was one of the more humane characters in the movie. Funnily enough, Ann and Henry’s names are not on the list – that is because they are “Half Ways” and cannot be judged. Because they are suicides they are destined, like Scrubby, to sail forever on the boat greeting new arrivals. For many who saw it in 1930, the slow moving narrative and talkiness did not detract from the spirituality but today it definitely does not hold up that well. Helen Chandler was very popular in 1930, 1931. She had a quirky, little girl lost appeal, you couldn’t mistake her uniqueness for any other actress. Even though her role was small, she convinced Hollywood that she was someone to watch out for in “Outward Bound” and she found her niche as the “new Lillian Gish”. Unfortunately after a couple of years her movie heyday was finished and it was back to the stage.
Duration: 83 min
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Also known as: Outward Bound