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Earthbound

Earthbound title card

Year - 1940
Studio - 20th Century Fox
Stars - Warner Baxter, Andrea Leeds, Lynn Bari, Charley Grapewin, Henry Wilcoxon, Elizabeth Patterson
Director - Irving Pichel
Writing Credits - John Howard Lawson, Samuel G. Engel
Music - Alfred Newman

Synopsis

Nick Desborough (Warner Baxter) and his wife Ellen (Andrea Leeds) are enjoying a picnic in the snowy Swiss Alps when Nick's assistant brings a telegram, asking him to come to Paris to discuss plans with his scientist partner, Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds (Henry Wilcoxon), for their new laboratory. He takes the night train, where an enigmatic old man, Mr. Whimser (Charley Grapewin) enters his private compartment, talks about the Bible, and suggests that Nick's future may not be as he expects it to be. When he arrives for the meeting, he is met by Jeff's wife, Linda (Lynn Bari), who confesses that she sent the wire so that she could be alone with Nick. Angry, Nick argues that he loves only his wife, and that their relationship was long over. Nick sends Linda to hide in his office when Jeff arrives, despondent that she had left him.

Earthbound poster

Leaving Jeff, Nick goes into his office to write a check for laboratory expenses, but Linda continues to plead that Nick leave his wife for her. When she realizes that it is hopeless, she takes a gun from her purse and kills Nick. Jeff runs into the office and, realizing what has happened, leaves quickly with Linda, determined to protect her from prosecution for the crime. Nick's ghost rises from his body, but doesn't know that he has died until he realizes that others can neither see nor hear him. Wandering about, he finds Mr. Whimser in a park, who offers vague clues as to his options.

Jeff is tried in court, but Ellen, sensing his innocence, makes an impassioned plea for finding the real truth. Nick's ghost watches helplessly. The jury finds that Jeff is guilty. Ellen visits him at the prison, imploring him to tell the truth but Jeff refuses to implicate his wife.

Ellen, to Linda's surprise, tries to befriend her, and invites her to go to the South of France for a holiday. Linda agrees, but actually has plans to leave for America by ship that evening. Discovering this, Ellen confronts Linda at her apartment, hastily packing her belongings. Linda finally breaks down and confesses that killed Ellen's husband. Nick, watching the events, is relieved and is finally at peace. He thanks Mr. Whimser and begins his journey to eternity.

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Earthbound was suggested for this site by Karine Philippot.