Simone has Some Chico Time
In 1914 Paris Chico (James Stewart), the sewer worker, is popular with many although his proclamation of being an atheist doesn't sit comfortably with many others including Father Chevillon (Jean Hersholt). When Chico comes to the aid of Diane (Simone Simon) who is being publicly beaten by her sister for refusing to entertain a customer in her sleazy cafe he ends up making a deal with the Father that in return for a job as a street cleaner he will not only give Diane a home but open his mind to God. It soon becomes apparent to Chico that he is fond of Diane whilst Diane starts to feel something for Chico, coming out of her shell thanks to the confidence of Chico. But just as they seem to be getting things together Chico receives his draft notice and has to head off to war.
I never realised that those who lived in Paris in 1914 had Pennsylvanian accents, okay so James Stewart doing James Stewart with all the usual "aaaws" is probably better than him trying to deliver an accent but it is one of the very noticeable things about this 1937 movie. The other noticeable thing is Simone Simon who has such a wonderfully innocent face that when ever director Henry King shoots a close up of her you are completely captivated by the glow of her beauty. In fact Simone Simon brings such innocence to the role that you end up simply captivated by her full stop and wonder why she never became a huge Hollywood star,
But here is the thing about "Seventh Heaven" as whist Simon Simone is captivating and James Stewart is his usual reliable self, maybe a bit more filled by the enthusiasm of youth than in his post war movies, the actual story suffers because of the dialogue. Maybe it is just me as whilst the sets are richly created, lush in detail and the costumes are just as eye catching the dialogue often feels like it is full of waffle. It is a shame as the storyline which sees Diane grow and blossom thanks to Chico is a charming one but at times it feels like it isn't going anywhere due to the dialogue.
What this all boils down to is that "Seventh Heaven" is entertaining and quite charming thanks to the wonderful Simone Simon. But there is a reason why this James Stewart movie isn't held in such high esteem as his others and it is simply due to the script which feels like it is drawn out and not enough for a movie hitting the 100 minute mark.