7th Heaven (1925) Director: Frank Borzage
7th Heaven is a slow moving dramatic, silent, romance film starring Janet Gaynor (who played the memorable wife in Murnau’s Sunrise) and Charles Farrell. This was the first of twelve films starring Gaynor and Farrell together (three of them were under Borzage’s direction). The story is based on the successful Broadway play of the same name.
For this film Janet Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress (as well as for her performance in Sunrise). The story for the film is about a Parisian sewer worker who falls in love with a young woman. The film tells the story of their romance amidst the backdrop of the First World War. 7th Heaven is one of the films for which director Frank Borzage is best remembered today.
Hollywood later attempted a remake of the film in 1937 starring Jimmy Stewart, but it never fully captured the same critical acclaim as the silent original.
7th Heaven has moments of powerful cinematography, with dramatic scenes of physical abuse and war, however today much of the film is slow-moving and it is challenging to find inspiration in such a film. The story is beautiful, however sadly this film that was once considered the height of its craft, is perhaps better left unwatched.