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SEVENTH SIN, THE (director: Ronald Neame; screenwriters: book The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham/Karl Tunberg; cinematographer: Ray June; editor: Gene Ruggiero; music: Miklos Rozsa; cast: Eleanor Parker (Carol Carwin), Bill Travers (Dr. Walter Carwin), Jean-Pierre Aumont (Paul Duvelle), George Sanders (Tim Waddington), Françoise Rosay (Mother Superior), Ellen Corby (Sister St. Joseph); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Lewis; MGM; 1957)
“A tedious remake of Greta Garbo’s 1934 The Painted Veil.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A tedious remake of Greta Garbo’s 1934 The Painted Veil. It never gets past its insipid melodramatics. It’s based on the novel The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham; the uninteresting screenplay is turned in by Karl Tunberg. Ronald Neame’s (“Blithe Spririt”/”Major Barbara”) dry directing never overcomes how outdated is the narrative. The star-studded cast never gets a chance to shine: Bill Travers offers a wooden performance, Eleanor Parker a shrill one, Jean-Pierre Aumont a creepy but ineffective one, and George Sanders, in an inconsequential role, gets by doing his usual effete thing.

Carol Carwin (Eleanor Parker) is a self-centered, shallow Baltimore beauty who marries dull dedicated British bacteriologist Dr. Walter Carwin, and accompanies him in 1949 to Hong Kong. While there she has an adulterous relationship with wealthy smoothie Paul Duvelle (Jean-Pierre Aumont). Walter discovers their affair and offers her a divorce if Paul also divorces his wife and marries her, otherwise he will accept her back or opt for a messy divorce that will be scandalous in their upper-class social circles. When Paul reneges, Carol joins her husband on his mission to combat a cholera epidemic in a remote island in inner China. A cynical friend of Paul’s, arms importer Tim Waddington (George Sanders), lives nearby and acts as her companion while hubby operates the dispensary. The changed woman soon learns that she misjudged her husband and grows to respect him for the work he’s doing to save lives. Carol is given a second chance to redeem herself, as she takes pity on the suffering children and convinces the nuns to give her an opportunity to work in the clinic.

The melodrama ends on a weepie note, as Walter succumbs to cholera and on his deathbed he smiles for the only time in the film as Carol calls him darling and asks for his forgiveness. In his last words, Walter quotes from the last line of the 18th-century Irish poet Oliver Goldsmith’s An Elegy On The Death Of A Mad Dog: “The dog it was that died!” Which the Mother Superior explains to her, means he died peacefully without remorse.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”