Seventh Heaven (1937 film)
Theatrical release poster by Joseph A. Maturo
|Directed by||Henry King|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Written by||Melville Baker
Austin Strong (play)
|Music by||David Buttolph
Cyril J. Mockridge
|Cinematography||Merritt B. Gerstad|
|Edited by||Barbara McLean|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|March 25, 1937|
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In a 1914 lower class district of Paris, content sewer worker named Chico (James Stewart) is criticized by his fellow citizens for being an atheist. One day, he witnesses a young woman (Simone Simon) being brutally beaten by her sister (Gale Sondergaard) for not entertaining a senior wealthy man in her sleazy bar. He sympathizes with the girl, Diane, and stops the fight. Later, Father Chevillon (Jean Hersholt), who is worried about Chico's lack of faith, offers him a deal: he will grant him a street washer job if he takes in Diane and opens his mind about believing in God. Chico agrees, and he prevents Diane's sister from turning her in to the police by claiming that she is his wife.
Because Diane has become very suicidal, Chico shares his optimistic views with her and takes her to his garret, above seven flights of stairs. Even though there is no luxury, Diane — used to worse surroundings — thinks of the place as heaven. The same night, Chico and Diane realize that they like each other, though they ignore their feelings.
The next morning, unbeknownst to Chico, a gendarme visits Diane to check the reliability of her 'marriage'. Later that day, they celebrate Chico's new job at his neighbours, the Gobins. Eccentric neighbour Aristide the Astrologer (J. Edward Bromberg) chastises Diane for keeping secrets from Chico and accuses her of taking advantage of him, as well as blaming her for ruining his chances of a wealthy life. Upset, Diane leaves and finds comfort in a bar, where she allows a man to seduce her. Chico finds out about the confrontation and finds her in the bar. There, he beats up the man, takes Diane home and assures her that he is not too good for her.
As time passes, Diane loses her timidity and shows her feelings for Chico, which leads to a loving relationship. They are about to marry, when Chico suddenly receives a draft notice. Before leaving with Gobin (Victor Kilian) to fight in World War I, Chico promises her that they are married in the eyes of God and promises to think of her every morning. Shortly after his departure, Diane's sister comes to the garret to try to lure Diane back to the café, but Diane, now mentally strong because of Chico's love, beats her up until she runs away.
Four years pass, as Chico fights on the front, and Diane works as a nurse. After the war, Gobin and Aristide tell Diane that Chico was killed, but she refuses to believe them until Father Chevillon gives her a medal that Chico give him at the front. Heartbroken, she renounces her belief in God, but in the morning she strongly feels her lover's presence. She rushes home, where she locates a blind but alive Chico. The couple embraces each other and restore their faith.
- Simone Simon as Diane
- James Stewart as Chico
- Jean Hersholt as Father Chevillon
- Gregory Ratoff as Boul, the cab driver
- Gale Sondergaard as Nana, Diane's sister
- J. Edward Bromberg as Aristide the Astrologer
- John Qualen as Sewer Rat
- Victor Kilian as Gobin, a streetwasher
- Thomas Beck as Brissac
- Sig Ruman as Durand (as Sig Rumann)
- Mady Christians as Marie
- Rollo Lloyd as Mateot (Matoot in credits)
- Rafaela Ottiano as Madame Frisson
- Georges Renavent as Sergeant Gendarme
- Edward Keane as Gendarme
Tyrone Power was originally assigned to portray Chico, but he was cast in Love Is News instead, and had to be replaced due to scheduling conflicts. Don Ameche withdrew from the role of Father Chevillon for the same reason. John Carradine shortly replaced him, until eventually Jean Hersholt was cast.