Earthbound


1h 7m 1940

Brief Synopsis

Nick and Ellen's second honeymoon in Switzerland is interrupted when he is called back to Paris on business. But it turns out to be funny-business when he discovers his ex-mistress Linda sent him the telegram. Nick spurns her, leading her to shoot and kill him. His ghost cannot rest, though, since Linda's husband Jeff is arrested for the crime and tried. Nick hovers over Ellen guiding her to the evidence that will clear Jeff and convict Linda, at which point he can rest at peace.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 7, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Ghost's Story" by Basil King (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,035ft

Synopsis

Nick and Ellen Desborough go on a mountain climbing trip for their fifth wedding anniversary. While there a messenger arrives with a telegram for Nick calling him back to Paris to help with the design of a laboratory for his friend, Jeffrey Reynolds. As helping Jeff is the one unselfish thing Nick has done, he goes, promising to return to Ellen in a few days. On the train to Paris, Nick's private cabin is invaded by a strange old man, Mr. Whimser, who insists that Nick read the Bible rather than the newspaper, as it contains the history of the world, not just the moment. He warns Nick that his time on Earth is limited. Arriving in Paris, Nick is meet by Linda Reynolds, Jeff's wife. Linda admits she sent the telegram, as the two are having an affair, and she has left Jeff for Nick. Nick, however, wishes to end the affair, confessing that he loves only his wife. At his home, Nick tells Totten, his assistant, to wire Ellen that he will return shortly. Linda sneaks into the apartment and confronts Nick once again. When Jeff arrives, Nick orders Linda to hide in the study, after which Jeff tells Nick that Linda has left him and asks his help in winning her back. Jeff also confesses that he needs another 250,000 francs for his laboratory. Nick goes to his study to write the check when Linda pulls out a gun. While trying to take the gun from her, Nick is shot and killed and the gun falls into the ash trap in the fireplace. Jeff whisks Linda away as Nick's ghost arises from his body. At his funeral, Nick watches Ellen being comforted by her friend, Becky Tilden. Mr. Whimser arrives and confronts Nick with his past, being the only person who can see or hear him. Mr. Whimser tells Nick that his ghost will remain "earthbound" unless he rights the wrongs he has committed. In court, Jeff is prosecuted for Nick's death. When Almette, an elevator operator, tells of seeing Nick and Linda together, Ellen rises up in her husband's defense. Jeff then confesses to the crime, saying he accidentally killed Nick when he refused to give him the 250,000 francs and then threw the gun in the river. Nick, realizing that Ellen is Jeff's only hope, tries to talk to her, but the "wall of lies" he built during his affair with Linda silences his words. Ellen visits Jeff in prison, tells him that she knows all about Nick and Linda, and that he must not protect Linda. Jeff is unmoved, but thanks Ellen for her kind words. In the park, Mr. Whimser runs into Nick, who tells him he is a "dead man haunted by the living." They go to a cafe where they see Ellen and Linda lunching together. Ellen's friendliness is a ploy to make Linda confess to the crime. Linda, however, has decided to run away to America. At Linda's apartment, Ellen confronts her, telling her that she cannot run away, that this crime will follow her wherever she goes. In the car back to her hotel room, Nick talks to Ellen, begging her to return to their apartment and look for the gun in the fireplace. After finding the gun, Ellen races back to Linda's apartment, only to be told she has already left. Catching the train just in the nick of time, Ellen confronts Linda with the gun and demands the truth. Linda confesses that she killed Nick because he wanted to end their affair, that he told her he only loved Ellen. Nick, finally released, returns to the park where he sees Mr. Whimser for one final time. Nick picks up the ghost of a dead baby bird and walks away.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 7, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Ghost's Story" by Basil King (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,035ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film was the last made by Warner Baxter at Twentieth Century-Fox after twelve years with that studio. A 1935 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that William Seiter was orginally set to direct this film. The film was then planned as a 1937 production, starring Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy, with Gregory Ratoff directing, only to be postponed due to its similar theme to Hal Roach's 1937 production Topper. According the film's pressbook, a new camera lens was developed at Twentieth Century-Fox especially for this film. The lens used a prism which allowed "photographs to be made simultaneously in two directions and at the same time permitted complete mobility of the camera." According to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release, the set of this film was kept closed to all visitors to keep secret the process of photographing the "ghosts." Press releases also report that Lynn Bari was later cast in the film Kit Carson produced by Edward Small, because of her work in this film. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Nick DeMaggio as a film editor, however, Louis Loeffler is credited on the film. King's story was first filmed by Goldwyn Pictures Corp. in 1920, starring Wyndham Standing and directed by T. Hayes Hunters (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20, F1. 1135).