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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

7th Heaven (1927)

In pre-WWI Paris, a street cleaner (Charles Farrell) takes in a street waif (Janet Gaynor in one of the three performances that got her the first best actress Oscar awarded) to avoid her going to jail for prostitution (or maybe it was just vagrancy, it's never quite made clear). However, what at first was meant to be a kind gesture turns into genuine love. But when WWI breaks out, it will be the true test of their love. This is an incredibly maudlin film, even for the most romantic among us. At times, particularly the war sequences, it drags on interminably until one almost resents the way director Frank Borzage is trying to squeeze every possible sob out of you. Despite its syrupy narrative, there's a certain charm to the lovers' poverty loft overlooking Paris lifestyle. If you've got be poor, this is the way to do it! Despite her Oscar win, Gaynor doesn't have much to but look the gamin though she has some powerful moments in her big scene toward the end. A real disappointment to me since I've been wanting to see this forever. With Ben Bard, David Butler and Gladys Brockwell as Gaynor's whip wielding sister.

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