Universal pulled out all the stops in Marlene Dietrich’s follow-up film to her very successful DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.

A South Seas setting, a large cast and a wardrobe to die for!

Seven Sinners (1940) is an action/ adventure designed to entertain- which it does extremely well.
The film belongs to Marlene as a cafe entertainer called Bijou who is continually being deported from South Sea islands for causing riots.

  • The ship she is put onto is going to the island of Boni Komba which is  a U.S.protectorate. On board, the ship’s doctor, Albert Dekker is -of course- attracted to her.


Also deported are Bijou’s two followers, Broderick Crawford as ‘Little Ned’ who designates himself as her bodyguard, continually shouting ‘Gang way!’ whenever  he is accompanying her.
Mischa Auer plays a magician/pickpocket who also works at the Seven Sinners cafe where Bijou sings.

Bijou is happy to get back to the island  and to the Seven Sinners cafe where she has performed before.


Billy Gilbert, Marlene Dietrich, Oscar Homolka.

Billy Gilbert,in his usual harassed persona, runs  the Seven Sinners.

Oscar Homolka is suitably threatening as an admirer of Bijou .


Albert Dekker.

Albert Dekker has only a few scenes at the beginning and end of the movie. I liked him and wish he’d had a larger part.



Gowns by Irene. 


Marlene in a stunning outfit for her song, ‘The Man’s in the Navy’.



On board the ship, Marlene does a lovely version of ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.’


Anna Lee has a small part as the daughter of the island’s governor.


The actor, far left, has his eye on the camera instead of Marlene !

Some wonderful stunt  work in the final cafe brawl which must be one of the longest on record.



I was surprised that there was no conventional happy ending ie Bijou and Dan had declared their love , but in the end, Bijou is seen getting on to another ship while Dan pursues his naval career ( after all he is the son of an admiral).
Though there is some hope Bijou will  find happiness with the ship’s doctor.(Albert Dekker). ( It’s the same ship she arrived in – conveniently).



One 1940 review of the film damned with faint praise:

“The picture is well played and its rather rowdy combination of comedy, romantic and action sequences should appeal to audiences who like their entertainment forthright, if not significant.”


This was the first of three films Marlene made with John Wayne , the others being PITTSBURGH and THE SPOILERS. In each of them, Marlene had top billing.

In this one Wayne is Dan ,the unlikely scion of a naval family and is persuaded marriage to Bijou would be a mistake.






Re-issued,  John Wayne is now the top star, and Broderick Crawford gets third billing.


Seven Sinners is one of the four Universal films in the new Blu-Ray set from the British Film Institute , just issued this month. The others are THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS, THE SPOILERS, PITTSBURGH.

( that cover just isn’t Marlene.)

There is an accompanying 56 page booklet about the films.

This was my first viewing of “Seven Sinners” and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Love Marlene’s line, “I’m a ba-a-a-d influence!”

13 responses »

  1. I thought this was hugely enjoyable, but Dietrich was always great anyway I suppose. I do enjoy this kind of studio set Hollywood exotica and this is a nice example of it.
    The Blu-ray set sounds really attractive.

  2. I agree about the box art – it’s been adapted from an original poster for “The Flame of New Orleans”. They could have picked a better image for the box front. Great review of the film – Marlene’s costumes are sensational.

  3. Yes, I read that story about Marlene only wanting one blonde in the film! Anna had little to do.
    And yes, James Craig was one of the naval officers though not in the picture I featured.

  4. Vienna, a wonderful write-up with such splendid photographs. SEVEN SINNERS(1940) brings back fond memories. This movie, if my memory serves me right, is the first Marlene Dietrich one that I saw as a youngster. It was shown quite a lot on the WREC Channel 3 Memphis, Tennessee EARLY MOVIE during the 1960’s. Marlene Dietrich was and still is a most memorable screen legend. This movie, is hands down, a star vehicle for Dietrich and she is very good in it. Also, In my opinion, the movie has one of the most rip-roaring brawling barroom fights ever filmed. I think I’ll view SEVEN SINNERS again, soon. Thanks, Vienna.

    I really liked all the photo’s, but the two with Dietrich in a naval officers uniform stand out because of her future service in World War II. She believed this was the most important thing she ever did in her entire life. The following is a good article for those interested.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s