Tenderness of this Austin Strong play has been retained in a fine film production. Seventh Heaven is a romance that can stand another telling. Picture is a remake dating back to 1927 as a film and 1922 as a Broadway legit entry.
Simone Simon’s is a mixed, and at times disturbing, performance. Frequent impression is that she’s uncertain of the character. She is a pretty Diane, and not so much the beaten, bewildered, cringing slavey. The girl’s early plight in this case fails to arouse but a meager amount of pity. What makes it still tougher for Simon (who follows Helen Menken [stage] and Janet Gaynor in the role) are the squeaks she emits as part of her more emotional sequences.
There are several scenes brilliantly mixed for poignancy and humor. Major credit for this is due James Stewart’s firm grasp of his role and to Henry King’s direction.
Even though the action slows up badly in the final two reels, production’s pace as a whole is in keeping. Little of war is woven into the narrative, nor are the Armistice celebration scenes too obtrusive.
From Jean Hersholt comes a wealth of understanding and patience. His is the part of the slum priest. Gregory Ratoff gets much comedy in the portrait of the taxi driver, while John Qualen, as the contented sewer rat, eases in a number of good-humored moments on his own. Gale Sondergaard, as Diane’s dominant sister, registers a full amount of cruelty.