6.2/10
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3 user 2 critic

Port of Seven Seas (1938)

Madelon and Marius intend to marry but he finds the call of the ocean irresistible and leaves her and his father behind.

Director:

James Whale

Writers:

Preston Sturges, Marcel Pagnol (play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Wallace Beery ... Cesar
Frank Morgan ... Panisse
Maureen O'Sullivan ... Madelon
John Beal ... Marius
Jessie Ralph ... Honorine
Cora Witherspoon ... Claudine
Etienne Girardot ... Bruneau
E. Alyn Warren ... Captain Escartefigue
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Storyline

Madelon and Marius intend to marry but he finds the call of the ocean irresistible and leaves her and his father behind.

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Taglines:

It's More Exciting Than "BAD MAN OF BRIMSTONE"! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Maureen O'Sullivan's character name was change from 'Fanny' to 'Madelon' because the studio bosses were not comfortable with the sexual connotation of the original name. See more »

Connections

Remake of Marius (1931) See more »

User Reviews

 
PORT OF SEVEN SEAS (James Whale, 1938) ***
10 March 2011 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Though my James Whale retrospective was officially over, I managed to get my hands on yet another rarity (I am now only left with his last unreleased work, 1949's HELLO OUT THERE to catch up with) – so I opted to check it out instantly. This was his sole stint at MGM and, though the material is hardly typical of him, he manages to infuse it with great humanity and surprising depth. This is especially remarkable when considering that the 81-minute film is essentially a compression of three lengthy French ones – a particular characteristic of their creator Marcel Pagnol – whose cumulative length exceeds 7 hours (though this effectively tails off at the end of the second)!; interestingly, the adaptation/streamlining was done by none other than Preston Sturges!

As expected, the Marseille waterfront atmosphere is carefully evoked (courtesy of celebrated cinematographer Karl Freund) and the cast (mainly filled by MGM stalwarts) proves another definite trump card here: Wallace Beery plays gruff tavern-keeper Cesar, Frank Morgan is wealthy merchant Panisse (his best friend), Maureen O'Sullivan the market-seller Fanny (albeit awkwardly renamed Madelon!) and John Beal – essentially turning up at the extended finale – as the sailor Marius (Cesar's son). Also on hand is Etienne Girardot as a doddering crony of Beery and Morgan, with the trio's scenes together inserting a welcome dose of humor into the generally melodramatic proceedings.

For those unfamiliar with the narrative, we have Madelon and Marius intending to marry but he finds the call of the ocean irresistible and leaves her and his father behind. When it is discovered that the girl is pregnant, the much-older Panisse (a childless widower) offers to marry her – which is no sacrifice for him since he had repeatedly expressed his love for Madelon – and raise the kid as his own! However, Marius eventually re-appears and claims both for himself…but he finds opposition from everyone (Panisse was willing to relinquish the girl but not the baby), including his own father! The plot, as it stands here, concludes in bittersweet fashion with Cesar persuading Marius to go back to his true love i.e. the sea; the last entry in Pagnol's original trilogy follows the adventures of the grown-up boy.

The film, then, is an underrated achievement – even more so in the face of the 1961 remake called FANNY (which, being an Oscar nominee and featuring the cream of Hollywood's French star imports, has rather stolen this one's thunder!) that actually originated as a stage musical but whose entire song score would ultimately be dropped for its transition to the screen!


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 July 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Porto dos Sete Mares See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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