Seven Sinners


1h 27m 1940

Brief Synopsis

A South Seas temptress sets her sights on a U.S. Navy officer.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
Oct 25, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Bijou, a South Seas siren whose allure inspires men to violence, is deported from island to island for inciting brawls among the excited males. For the latest incident on her riotous trail, Bijou is ordered to leave on the next tramp steamer, along with her protectors, Little Ned, a Navy deserter, and Sasha, a magician with a penchant for kleptomania. On board the steamer, Bijou meets the ship's physician, Dr. Martin, who is an outcast like herself, and the two become kindred spirits. When Bijou learns that a new governor has been appointed at the ship's next port, however, she and her entourage disembark, and as she leaves the boat, she meets Navy officer Lieutenant Dan Brent. Bijou asks Tony, the proprietor of the Seven Sinners saloon, for her old singing job, and under the menacing threats of the knife throwing Antro, Tony rehires her. As Bijou and Dan fall in love, she becomes fearful of Antro's insane jealousy. Their romance scandalizes the Navy, and when Dan decides to marry Bijou, Ned and the Governor force her to realize that the marriage would ruin his career, and she decides to leave him. On the eve of Bijou's departure, Antro's jealousy erupts, causing one final brawl for which Dan is confined to his ship. The next morning, Bijou boards the tramp steamer where she is joyously greeted by her old, friend Dr. Martin.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
Oct 25, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Seven Sinners - John Wayne & Marlene Dietrich in SEVEN SINNERS on DVD


Evidently, Universal owns the rights to a lot more Marlene Dietrich movies than John Wayne movies. Hence, the inclusion of 1940's Seven Sinners, which is much more of a Dietrich movie than a Wayne movie, in John Wayne: The Franchise Collection and not the recent Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection.

Seven Sinners isn't just more of a Dietrich movie because she's the star and he's her co-star. It's also the first movie the actress made after her big resurgence in popularity from the previous year's Destry Rides Again, and Seven Sinners' success lies in its ability to recapture the lusty, rowdy flavor of her earlier hit. Again, Dietrich is very appealing and very fetching as a chanteuse whose naughty habits usually leave a black-and-blue trail behind her and, again, her character wreaks havoc in an exotic location (the South Pacific replacing the Wild West). As she purrs at one point, "I make rough seas. I set the jungle on fire. I'm a bad influence." We see that in the movie's opening, in which the brawling customers at the club where Dietrich's Bijou is singing tear up the joint, leading to arrests and the latest deportation of Bijou and her pals Finnegan (Broderick Crawford), her self-appointed bodyguard, and Sasha (Mischa Auer), a loyal magician/kleptomaniac. After scouring the map for a nearby island that isn't off-limits to them, the three end up on Boni-Komba, where a recent change in governor means they can return to the club that gives the movie its name. It turns out the forever-flustered owner (Billy Gilbert) has finally gotten the place fixed up after Bijou's last destructive stint there.

Like such top-shelf Dietrich movies as The Blue Angel and Morocco, Seven Sinners blends the heroine's world-weary, devil-may-care songs with offstage romantic concerns. Here's where such songs as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "The Man's in the Navy" come in, as does Wayne. The American fleet is in town when Bijou returns to Boni-Komba and, after heading to the club to chew out the younger officers who've fled the governor's party to watch her, Wayne's lieutenant becomes smitten, too. While Bijou toys with most men, she's more serious around the lieutenant, who soon starts butting heads with Antro (Oscar Homolka), a knife-wielding former partner-in-crime who wants Bijou back. Although I wouldn't call this an especially memorable Wayne performance, a year after Stagecoach he exudes a big-lug charm that works here. It's the same big-lug charm that famously had Dietrich whispering "Daddy, buy me that" to director Tay Garnett (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cause for Alarm) when he brought Wayne to the Universal commissary for Dietrich to check out before casting him.

The songs, romance and very funny performances of Gilbert (in one of the consummate character actor's best roles), Auer (playing another reprobate, as in Destry), Crawford (who knew he could be funny?) and Vince Barnett (as the club's bartender) give Seven Sinners a real comic energy. But all this is really a build-up to the main event: one of the best barroom brawls ever put on screen. When it's time for nefarious Antro and the big-shouldered American lieutenant to finally square off, with their respective reinforcements behind them, bodies fly, tables collapse when landed upon and punches thwack as in few other cinematic dust-ups. It's like watching a glorious game of human pinball full of insane stunt work. Like the fighters in that climax, Seven Sinners is the sort of comedy that has its sleeves rolled up and sports a scrappy style, like such other contemporaries as The Great McGinty or Roxie Hart. It may have been fashioned as a Destry Rides Again knock-off, but it succeeds as heartily as its predecessor does. And since Dietrich worked much less frequently in movies after 1942, it's also the last great movie from her heyday as a prolific studio contract star.

To order Seven Sinners, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman
Seven Sinners - John Wayne & Marlene Dietrich In Seven Sinners On Dvd

Seven Sinners - John Wayne & Marlene Dietrich in SEVEN SINNERS on DVD

Evidently, Universal owns the rights to a lot more Marlene Dietrich movies than John Wayne movies. Hence, the inclusion of 1940's Seven Sinners, which is much more of a Dietrich movie than a Wayne movie, in John Wayne: The Franchise Collection and not the recent Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection. Seven Sinners isn't just more of a Dietrich movie because she's the star and he's her co-star. It's also the first movie the actress made after her big resurgence in popularity from the previous year's Destry Rides Again, and Seven Sinners' success lies in its ability to recapture the lusty, rowdy flavor of her earlier hit. Again, Dietrich is very appealing and very fetching as a chanteuse whose naughty habits usually leave a black-and-blue trail behind her and, again, her character wreaks havoc in an exotic location (the South Pacific replacing the Wild West). As she purrs at one point, "I make rough seas. I set the jungle on fire. I'm a bad influence." We see that in the movie's opening, in which the brawling customers at the club where Dietrich's Bijou is singing tear up the joint, leading to arrests and the latest deportation of Bijou and her pals Finnegan (Broderick Crawford), her self-appointed bodyguard, and Sasha (Mischa Auer), a loyal magician/kleptomaniac. After scouring the map for a nearby island that isn't off-limits to them, the three end up on Boni-Komba, where a recent change in governor means they can return to the club that gives the movie its name. It turns out the forever-flustered owner (Billy Gilbert) has finally gotten the place fixed up after Bijou's last destructive stint there. Like such top-shelf Dietrich movies as The Blue Angel and Morocco, Seven Sinners blends the heroine's world-weary, devil-may-care songs with offstage romantic concerns. Here's where such songs as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "The Man's in the Navy" come in, as does Wayne. The American fleet is in town when Bijou returns to Boni-Komba and, after heading to the club to chew out the younger officers who've fled the governor's party to watch her, Wayne's lieutenant becomes smitten, too. While Bijou toys with most men, she's more serious around the lieutenant, who soon starts butting heads with Antro (Oscar Homolka), a knife-wielding former partner-in-crime who wants Bijou back. Although I wouldn't call this an especially memorable Wayne performance, a year after Stagecoach he exudes a big-lug charm that works here. It's the same big-lug charm that famously had Dietrich whispering "Daddy, buy me that" to director Tay Garnett (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cause for Alarm) when he brought Wayne to the Universal commissary for Dietrich to check out before casting him. The songs, romance and very funny performances of Gilbert (in one of the consummate character actor's best roles), Auer (playing another reprobate, as in Destry), Crawford (who knew he could be funny?) and Vince Barnett (as the club's bartender) give Seven Sinners a real comic energy. But all this is really a build-up to the main event: one of the best barroom brawls ever put on screen. When it's time for nefarious Antro and the big-shouldered American lieutenant to finally square off, with their respective reinforcements behind them, bodies fly, tables collapse when landed upon and punches thwack as in few other cinematic dust-ups. It's like watching a glorious game of human pinball full of insane stunt work. Like the fighters in that climax, Seven Sinners is the sort of comedy that has its sleeves rolled up and sports a scrappy style, like such other contemporaries as The Great McGinty or Roxie Hart. It may have been fashioned as a Destry Rides Again knock-off, but it succeeds as heartily as its predecessor does. And since Dietrich worked much less frequently in movies after 1942, it's also the last great movie from her heyday as a prolific studio contract star. To order Seven Sinners, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

There've been a half a dozen complaints since you came to that cafe.
- District Officer
A half-dozen! Why not fifty? I'm surprised.
- Bijou
Imagine finding you here.
- Lt. Dan Brent
I'm the type of girl you're liable to find anywhere.
- Bijou

Trivia

Notes

According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, producer Joe Pasternak wanted Franchot Tone to play the role of "Dan" until he discovered that he could hire John Wayne to play the role. Another item in Hollywood Reporter notes that writer Jo Swerling was hired to "beef up" Oscar Homolka's part, but Swerling's participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Studio publicity releases contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library add that director Tay Garnett appeared as a drunken sailor in the fight sequence. This picture marked the first American film of English actress Anna Lee (1913-2004). This was the first of three pictures that paired John Wayne with Marlene Dietrich.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1940

Released in United States on Video October 26, 1994

Remade as "South Sea Sinner" (1950) directed by H Bruce Humberstone.

Released in United States 1940

Released in United States on Video October 26, 1994