Cast & Crew
In late 1940s Hong Kong, American Carol Carwin is spending a romantic afternoon with her lover, French diplomat Paul Duvelle, when she hears someone in the house. Fearing that her husband Walter, a reserved English doctor, has returned home and will discover her affair, she searches the house, but finds only Paul's briefcase, which he accidentally left in the living room. Later, however, the houseboy hands Carol several novels, which her husband left for her. That night over dinner Walter mentions the books with disdain, but does not directly mention the affair.
At a private tearoom the next day, Carol tells Paul that Walter will never discuss the indiscretion but she is sure that he knows of it. Despite his being married with children, Paul assures her that he will stand by her regardless of Walter's reaction. Days later, Walter leaves his office early to tell Carol that he has volunteered to take over a doctor's practice at a cholera-ridden Chinese village and suggests that if she does not join him there, he will file for divorce and create a horrible scandal. Infuriated that she is being blackmailed into isolating herself in the countryside, Carol denounces their marriage. Walter reminds Carol that jealousy of her younger sister's marriage drove Carol to marry the first eligible bachelor and, although Walter deeply loved her, Carol only accepted his proposal in hopes of escaping her family by following him to Hong Kong. When Carol retorts that only Paul unlocked her real potential for love, Walter puts her relationship with Paul to the test. He agrees to divorce Carol quietly if Paul will divorce his wife and marry Carol within a week.
Carol immediately visits Paul at his office to tell him the proposal, but Paul refuses to abandon his wife and children for her. Crushed, Carol concludes that all his previous devotion was only "sales talk" and then announces she will prevent the scandal by accompanying Walter to the distant village. Returning home, a defeated Carol finds that Walter, having anticipated Paul's rejection, has already ordered the servants to pack her bags. The next morning, the couple take a rickety boat to the village, where the suspicious Chinese elder orders the doctor to leave, but Chinese military, by order of the government, escort the doctor and his wife past dozens of corpses and open graves to their new home, the furnished house of Watson, a deceased missionary. While Walter makes his rounds, witty Englishman Tim Waddington, an old friend of Paul, introduces himself to Carol and suggestively compliments her while inviting himself to dinner.
Over dinner, Tim is shocked when both Walter and Carol eat fresh salad. Knowing that the watery greens can easily spread cholera, Tim cynically asks if they have a suicide pact and warns the couple that, although Watson was inoculated, he died of the disease. Days later at the house, Tim tells a bored and restless Carol that her husband's tireless efforts inoculating the villagers have won him respect and mentions a wound Walter received when a scared parent attacked him. He then recounts Paul's various affairs with women and insinuates that Carol's ignorance of her husband's wound, their separate bedrooms and her childishly suicidal behavior prove that their marriage is a failure. Infuriated by the accusations, Carol orders Tim to leave, but then offers her hand in friendship to the one man who has seen through her selfishness.
The next day, Tim escorts Carol on a walk through the village, where she discovers a dead man, his body racked with cholera, among the marketplace stands. Tim takes her to Walter's dispensary, telling her that although the locals believe Walter is a hero, Tim knows that the doctor is working himself to death to avoid his own pain. They then visit the convent, where the Mother Superior introduces Carol to the many orphans created by the epidemic. Shaken by the dead man and the vulnerable children, and humbled by the Mother Superior's lauding of her husband's work, Carol rushes home where she apologizes to Walter and offers him sandwiches "without lettuce" as a gesture of goodwill. Walter, however, cannot forgive her infidelity. Her apology only serves to release Walter's anger, which leads him to rape her.
The next morning, seeking redemption for the wrongs against her husband and the hopelessness of their relationship, Carol asks to work at the convent, but Mother Superior suggests that she has no skills to offer them and only wants an escape. However, Walter soon intervenes and convinces Mother Superior to give Carol a job. Weeks later, Tim finds a content Carol bathing children at the convent and invites her to his home, an exquisitely kept mansion in the village. Carol is shocked when Tim's demure Chinese wife greets them at the door. Tim explains that regardless their cultural differences he is very much in love with her and despite his own infidelities, he has learned to return his wife's love and devotion over time. Weeks later, when Carol discovers she is pregnant, she is forced to tell Walter that the child could be either his or Paul's, but insists that she wants to stay with him. Later at the convent, Carol admits her infidelity to the Mother Superior, who advises her to find her own path and wait for her husband's forgiveness.
Late one night, soldiers find Carol at home and urgently escort her to the hospital, where Walter lies emaciated from the ravages of cholera. As Carol begs him to forgive her, Walter weakly tells her "the dog it was that died" and then dies. Days later, upon hearing about Walter's last words, the Mother Superior suggests to a distraught Carol that her husband died in peace. She explains that Walter's final words come from the last lines of a poem by Oliver Goldsmith. She interprets the lines to mean: A dog bit his owner to hurt him. Instead of the man dying, the dog died of remorse for having harmed the man he loved. Days later, Carol leaves the village telling Tim that she likes herself now and wants to continue to find her own path. As Tim waves goodbye, he whistles the same approving catcall that he greeted her with when she arrived.
Henry S. Quan
Esther Ying Lee
Daniel B. Cathcart
A. Arnold Gillespie
J. E. Henderling
William A. Horning
Dr. Wesley C. Miller
Edwin B. Willis
The Seventh Sin (1957)
Star Eleanor Parker was at the peak of her career when she appeared in The Seventh Sin, having recently earned her third OscarÆ nomination as Best Actress for her performance in Interrupted Melody (1955). She had also won critical acclaim for two subsequent performances, the embittered invalid wife in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), and a woman with split personalities in Lizzie (1957). English actor Bill Travers, who had recently made an impact in Bhowani Junction (1956), plays the cuckolded husband, and French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont the lover. George Sanders is third-billed in one of his trademark charming scoundrel roles, this time a more likeable rogue than usual, and one with a serious side. The Seventh Sin was the first American film helmed by British director Ronald Neame. In spite of all the talent involved, The Seventh Sin was a troubled production that Neame later described as ìa desperately unhappy venture.î
Neame had begun his career as an assistant cameraman on the first British sound film, Blackmail (1929), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Neame had worked as a cinematographer, producer, and screenwriter in British films before turning to directing in 1947. In his autobiography, he wrote that he had his doubts about The Seventh Sin: ìI donít think it was the ideal vehicle to launch a career in America in the fifties, but I was anxious to make a film here and the script was sent to me.î Neame should have trusted his instincts. It was a time of turmoil at MGM. A few weeks into production, studio head Dore Schary was ousted, and according to Neame, ìthe new regime didnít seem to be interested in the project.î Along with producer David Lewis, Neame quit the film shortly before production finished, and was replaced by Vincente Minnelli. Neame later recalled that he received a call from director George Cukor, who assured him that the fiasco would not adversely affect his career. ìI speak with authority, so please believe me,î Cukor said. ìI was the director who was taken off Gone With the Wind (1939), and Iím still working.î
Minnelli found a production in chaos. ìThe enterprise was sour from the beginning,î he recalled in his autobiography. ìThe company didnít get along with each other and the producer and the director were having battles royal with the front office. Theyíd struggled through most of the filming when matters finally became untenable.î Minnelli did what he could, and refused to take any credit on The Seventh Sin. He only had to re-shoot some scenes and shoot a few new ones. Nevertheless, Minnelli biographer Mark Griffin sees ìsome distinctive Minnelli flourishesî in the finished film: ìThe opening scene begins with ravenous close-ups of shoes, silk stockings, and jewelry--all obviously shed in the midst of an adulterous interlude. When the nervous loversÖare first glimpsed together, theyíre posed before the inevitable Minnelli mirror. A later sequence features a sweeping boom maneuver; the camera sails up to Parkerís bungalow and then right through the open window.î Composer Miklos Rozsa recycled one of his trademark musical themes from a Minnelli film for The Seventh Sin: the waltz from Madame Bovary (1949), another story of an adulterous wife.
When The Seventh Sin was released, several critics found the Maugham story dated, and some of the acting unconvincing. ìIt has the old-fashioned style of dramas of women suffering in the vintages of ëMadame X,íî according to the New York World Telegram critic. Frank Quinn of the New York Daily Mirror wrote that ìIt has many crises but fails to stir the emotions,î and that Travers ìgives his role a single dimension.î But The Seventh Sin also received several admiring reviews. Hank Grant of the Hollywood Reporter called it ìA fascinating and absorbing picture,î and praised Parker as ìSimply greatÖleaves no doubt as to every emotion she feels, yet never spilling over into maudlin pathos.î Howard Thompson of the New York Times agreed. ìMiss Parker makes a sincere, even moving heroineÖItís a tough part; Miss Parker tackles it like a professional.î Showmenís Trade Review called Parker and Travers ìmost effective,î and added, ìSanders, as the witty and cynical government employee, gives the crisp and believable dialogue his own special style of delivery.î
Director: Ronald Neame, Vincente Minnelli (uncredited)
Producer: David Lewis, Sidney Franklin (uncredited)
Screenplay: Karl Tunberg, based on The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
Cinematography: Ray June
Editor: Gene Ruggiero
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: William A. Horning, Daniel B. Cathcart
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Principal Cast: Eleanor Parker (Carol Carwin), Bill Travers (Dr. Walter Carwin), George Sanders (Tim Waddington), Jean-Pierre Aumont (Paul Duvelle), Francoise Rosay (Mother Superior), Ellen Corby (Sister St. Joseph), Judy Dan (Tim Waddingtonís wife), Frank Tang (Dr. Ling), Kam Tong (Col. Yu)
by Margarita Landazuri
The Seventh Sin (1957)
The working titles for this film were The Painted Veil, The Seventh Vow and The Seventh Veil. As early as July 1, 1947, an Hollywood Reporter news item noted that M-G-M intended to remake its 1934 film The Painted Veiland chose Greer Garson to star. On February 9, 1956, an ^HR news item noted that Eleanor Parker was to star in the film with Alec Guinness, who was possibly considered for the role taken over by Bill Travers. According to December 1956 Hollywood Reporter production charts and a December 25, 1956 Hollywood Reporter article, Sidney Franklin took over as producer for the film during the final months of shooting, replacing David Lewis. Hollywood Reporter production charts for the film indicate that Vincente Minnelli took over direction of the film in January 1957, although only Ronald Neame is credited with direction onscreen and in reviews. In his autobiography, Minnelli stated that he finished the film when, after conflicts with Lewis, Neame left mid-production. Minnelli claims to have kept Neame's original intent for the plot and requested the studio only credit Neame with directing the film. As noted in production charts, portions of the film were shot on location in Hong Kong.
The deathbed quotation spoken by Bill Travers as the character "Walter Carwin" was taken from the poem "Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog" by eighteenth century author Oliver Goldsmith. As mentioned above, W. Somerset Maugham's book The Painted Veil was first made into a movie with the same title by M-G-M in 1934. Greta Garbo and George Brent starred in that version, which was directed by Richard Boleslawski (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). The 1934 film was set in the 1930s, while the 1957 release was updated to 1949. As of 2005, another film with the working title The Painted Veil, which is also to be based on the Maugham novel, was in pre-production, to be directed by John Curan and star Edward Norton.