The Seven Deadly Sins (1952)

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS (1952)
(a.k.a. LES SEPT PECHES CAPITAUX)
Article #1604 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-5-2005
Posting Date: 1-2-2006
Directed by Yves Allegret, Claude Autant-Lara, Eduardo De Filippo, Jean Dreville,
Georges Lacombe, Carlo Rim, Roberto Rossellini
Featuring Michele Morgan, Francoise Rosay, Jean Debucourt

A barker at a fair invites everyone to knock down the targets in ball-throwing game—the Seven Deadly Sins. For each sin, a story is told depicting that sin.

The fantastic content in this movie is relegated to the second of the stories, that of Sloth. In this story, St. Peter is frustrated by the breakneck pace of life on Earth, decides to turn Sloth into a virtue and sends Sloth to earth. It’s a cute story, full of special effects, but the story itself isn’t particularly satisfying, though at least it somewhat avoids the obviousness of some of the other stories.

At heart, that obviousness is the main problem I have with the movie; given the fact that you know which sin is being discussed at the beginning of each story, you find yourself generally unsurprised by the denouements of the particular segments. The stories generally work best when the characters are particularly well drawn, or the subjects are handled with a certain degree of depth. As a rule, the stories get better as they go along, with the hilarious take on Gluttony leading the pack; sure, you can see the final twist coming a mile away, but the set-up is inspired. The story of Envy shows perhaps the greatest depth, and it’s fascinating that the target of the main character’s envy is not another human being, but a cat. The movie also throws in an eighth deadly sin, but I largely see that one being something of an offshoot of Pride.

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