starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell
One John Golden play plus one talented director plus two brilliant young people equals one fine picture. That is "Seventh Heaven." It is permeated with the spirit of youth, of young love, of whimsy. A splendid picturization of the play that ran for two years on Broadway.
Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell are Diane and Chico, waifs of he Paris slums, thrown together by merest chance to eventually climb to the seventh heaven of ecstasy through the simple medium of faith, hope and courage. Chico is a sewer cleaner, a young braggart, who saves Diane from her absinthe-crazed sister, only to be forced to give the girl shelter. Adoring him, her gratitude turning to love, she mothers him until 1914 thunders into French history and then the Fox company could not resist becoming epic. There are battles and the usual shell-hole scene, but, when the story again returns to Chico and Diane, you can forgive everything in the beauty of their perfomances.
They are twin joys, those kids, their work entirely unmarred by studied technic. And this picture should plant them firmly near the top of the picture world. Chico's departure to the front is superlatively done, but his return to the garret heaven, blinded, is one of those unforgettable scenes. Dave Butler is clever as Gobin and so is Albert Gran as Papa Boul. And don't forget to watch Gladys Brockwell as the sister.
See this, by all means. It's tender and tragic and wholly appealing, splashed now and then with the grandly human comedy for which Director Frank Borzage is known.
starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell
PICTURE PLAY MAGAZINE
One of the great successes of the year is "Seventh Heaven." It is a triumph for those who aim to give the public what it wants - in this case a charming fairy tale skillfully camouflaged to pass for grim reality, and splendidly acted by personable young Americans in the roles of French sweethearts to whom love is all. It is a version of Paris as it is supposed to exist. The total absence of cafe scenes and fashion parades, hitherto sine qua non in films of Parisian life, is a refreshing novelty and does much to make "Seventh Heaven" seem real. But its flavor remains that of "The Two Orphans," in spite of a story taking place during the war.
Diane, beaten to unbelievable limits by her elder sister, and hopelessly desperate, arouses the sympathy of Chico, a cheerful young man who works among the sewers. Moved by pity alone, he takes Diane to his attic - spacious, picturesque - overlooking the roofs of Paris, and shows her kindness to a degree which, unaccountably, she has never before known.
Shyly they fall in love, almost without knowing it, and are about to be married, - Chico providing Diane with a delicate, lacy wedding gown fit for a Dresden-china figurine - when war is declared, and he is swept out of her life. They agree to hold silent communion every morning at eleven o'clock, so that he will never really be away at all.
The spectator is led to believe that Chico is killed in action, but he stumbles, blindly, up the attic stairs at the critical moment when Diane is being besought by a military suitor, and the suspense comes to an end in the gentle glow of lovers united.
There is more to this incredible story than appears in a synopsis of the essentials, and more, much more beauty and sincerity and depth in the acting of Janet Gaynor, as Diane, and Charles Farrell, as Chico, than I can describe here. It is sheer perfection, a rare and lovely presentment of youth in love, as sensitive, as shimmering, as if these young people had spent a life-time in practicing an art, instead of a few paltry years in Hollywood make-believe.
The direction of Frank Borzage - who did "Humoresque," you remember - could not be bettered. The sentimental, romantic atmosphere, lends itself perfectly to his technique, and since Mr. Farrell and Miss Gaynor have never approached their acting in this, Mr. Borzage may justly take considerable credit for their accomplishments.
Nevertheless, the picture as a whole is fairly riddled by inconsistencies
and implausibilities - absurdities, if you are less charitably
inclined. But they need not be pointed out, nor dwelt upon, because
the spirit of "Seventh Heaven" overwhelms its deficiencies,
and the leading players are irresistible.
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