Reaching From Heaven (February 1, 1948)
Released on February 1, 1959: A poor, shabby little man is run over in front of a church, and it changes the lives of everyone involved for the better.
Directed by Frank R. Strayer
Written by Charles Palmer and Henry Rische.
The Actors: Hugh Beaumont (Bill Sterling), Cheryl Walker (Madeline Bradley), John Qualen (the stranger), Regis Toomey (the pastor), Charles Evans (Walter Graves), Margaret Hamilton (Sophie Manley), Addison Richards (Max Bradley), Nana Bryant (Kay Bradley), Mae Clarke (Dorothy Gram), Jack Lambert (Buck Huggins), Ann Doran (Martha Kestner), George Chandler (Bert Kestner), Nell Craig (nurse), Thornton Edwards (cop), George Eldredge (Mr. Gram), Lanny Rees (Edgar, newsboy), Gene Roth (Mr. Stone, Kestner's neighbor).
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Can the worst thing that ever happens to you actually become the best thing that ever happens to you? Every adversity has within it the seed of an equal or better reward. The same bad things happen to all of us - we fall out of trees and break our leg, we get robbed, we get sick, we lose people and things that we think are irreplaceable. Does this mean that life is terrible . . . that we need to be strong and fight everything and everyone in order to survive? A long time ago Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, asked the rhetorical question, 'Is this a friendly universe?' His answer was that if you think it is, it will be, and if you are convinced that everyone and everything in the universe is meant to do you harm, it will. A long time ago my biggest sister Viv was a struggling widow with two young children. She attended a good church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening every week. She was so poor at the time that many of their meals consisted of a couple of fried eggs, and nothing more. One day recently we were talking about it, and I mentioned that I was surprised that none of the good church people during those days took the time to notice her situation and lend a helping hand. Of course, if you go to a church regularly, I'm betting that there is someone in your church that could mightily use something that you have plenty of . . . but have you ever taken the time to watch, listen and be sensitive to the other folk around you? And it isn't only in church . . . there are people that enter our personal universe every day that desperately need things that we have plenty of.
A poor, shabby little man gets hit by a car in front of the church just as Sunday services are letting out. Will anyone notice? Will anyone give a damn? In 1948, well before I was born, and probably before you were born, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, produced this star-studded motion picture that displays not the worst that mankind can be, but the best. In this film, it is a friendly universe, and even when bad things happen, there is an outcome that is better than before the crisis. This story is in the best Frank Capra, "It's a Wonderful Life" style, with a roller coaster ride to the very bottom for our leading lady, only to find while at the bottom that the only way out is to look up . . . and discover what a wonderful universe that we are part of. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle a pound or so of warm melted butter all over it, and enjoy a great story about the people in a small American town that learn the real meaning of the Golden Rule. Oh, and don't forget to put a big box of Kleenex next to your chair . . . you'll need it.
Addison Richards and Cheryl Walker
Addison Richards in Reaching from Heaven
Charles Evans toasts to the young couple with a cup of coffee
Cheryl Walker, Hugh Beaumont and Thornton Edwards after the poor shabby little man is run over.
Cheryl Walker and Hugh Beaumont
Cheryl Walker and Hugh Beaumont
Cheryl Walker and Margaret Hamilton
George Chandler and Ann Doran
George Chandler and Gene Roth
George Chandler reading the Sundy funny papers
Hugh Beaumont, Margaret Hamilton and Charles Evans
Jack Lambert and Hugh Beaumont
John Qualen, Regis Toomey and Nell Craig
John Qualen and Regis Toomey
John Qualen in Reaching from Heaven
Margaret Hamilton and Regis Toomey after Sunday morning worship
Margaret Hamilton in the mirror
Margaret Hamilton speaks her mind
Regis Toomey prays for guidance
Regis Toomey in Reaching from Heaven