Theatrical release poster
Directed byIrving Pichel
Written byJohn Howard Lawson
Samuel G. Engel
Based onEarthbound
by Basil King
Produced bySol M. Wurtzel
StarringWarner Baxter
Andrea Leeds
Lynn Bari
CinematographyLucien Andriot
Edited byLouis Loeffler
Nick DeMaggio
Music byAlfred Newman
Release date
  • May 25, 1940 (1940-05-25)
Running time
67 minutes
CountryUnited States

Earthbound is a 1940 film directed by Irving Pichel. It stars Warner Baxter and Andrea Leeds. It is a remake of the 1920 silent film of the same name, Earthbound.[1] Critical reception to the film was generally negative.


Husband and wife Nick (Warner Baxter) and Ellen (Andrea Leeds) go mountain climbing in Switzerland, where Nick is murdered, becoming an "earthbound" ghost. Only after his murderer confesses is Nick's ghost freed.


Directed by Irving Pichel, Earthbound was proposed as a star vehicle for actor Warner Baxter, whose career was declining. It would be the final film he made for 20th Century Fox.[2] Sol M. Wurtzel adapted Earthbound into a 67-minute film, while also slightly modifying the story.[2]

John Howard Lawson and Samuel G. Engel wrote the screenplay for the film. Lawson proposed the film be set during World War I with "people going about customary tasks, wearing gas masks ... two lovers parting on a street corner, trying to say goodbye, unable to take off their masks." Darryl F. Zanuck rejected the idea.[3]


In a contemporary review in The New York Times, reviewer Bosley Crowther wrote that "we can only describe "Earthbound" as a solemn piece of foolishness so preposterous that it borders on farce."[4] Several decades later, film historian Leonard Maltin gave Earthbound two stars out of four, calling it a "strange little fantasy" with "a deadly serious mixture of half-baked philosophy and heavy-handed special effects."[1] TV Guide gave the film two and a half stars out of four, calling the film's idea "farfetched" but opining it was done well.[5] AllMovie writer Bruce Eder's review graded the film two and a half stars out of five. Although he believed some of the plot elements were "incredulous" and the film's "sentimentality seems dated", he praised the film's acting, opining it was "above average" for a B movie, and wrote positively of Pichel's directing work.[6] In the book American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929, author John T. Soister compared the film to the original. He noted that while the original was lost, the 1940 version was still available. He commented that "it seems the wrong Earthbound has disappeared."[7]


  1. ^ a b "Earthbound". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b Parish, James (1994). Ghosts and angels in Hollywood films: plots, critiques, casts, and credits for 264 theatrical and made-for-television releases. McFarland & Company. p. 86. ISBN 0899506763.
  3. ^ Dick, Bernard (1989). Radical Innocence: A Critical Study of the Hollywood Ten. University Press of Kentucky. p. 57. ISBN 0813133572.
  4. ^ Crowther, Bosley (7 June 1940). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'Edison, the Man,' or Part II of a Biography Featuring Spencer Tracy, Is Seen at the Capitol--'Earthbound' Opens at the Palace". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Earthbound Review". TV Guide. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  6. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Earthbound (1940) Review". AllMovie. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  7. ^ Soister, John T. (2012). American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland & Company. p. 174. ISBN 978-0786487905.