The Great Sinner (1949) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
24 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Fantastic movie
joshuaslong9 December 2009
I think a lot of people are looking at this movie like the Twilight Zone episode called "The Fever." They want a short little story about gambling addiction, The End.

I prefer to look at this movie like a "Shakespeare in Love" for Dostoevsky. It has so many little hints about his faith, seizures, and influences on his books. A fan of all his works will catch the obvious inferences (like the ax and the pawn shop, and the scenes straight out of the Gambler). But there are a lot of subtle references to the Idiot and the Brothers Karamizov. The title "The Great Sinner" is a reference to Dostoevsky's planned final works (which included the Bros. K.) but he was unable to finish it. Anyone who is put off by the "heavy handed" religious message of the film obviously has no idea how religious Dostoevsky was. His books are full of redemption by Christ. I think this movie was great. Peck played the part very well. He wasn't supposed to be Alexi from the novel, he is the author. The gambling scenes are intense enough to turn your stomach.
18 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Numbers theory
dbdumonteil7 November 2007
Even when he adapts Dostoievski,Robert Siodmak's fondness for film noir can be felt.In the first scene,when Fedor meets Pauline ,how not to think of that scene in "the killers" when Swede sees Kitty for the first time?In both films ,Ava Gardner is the femme fatale.Ditto for the last scene in the pawn shop where you can see the reflections of the crosses on the ceiling.

Fedor's motive is first love ,but little by little,he realizes he is actually in love with gambling,with the numbers.His desire for an "8 " is almost sexual;in the hotel,every number (the key number, etc) calls him to the casino.The depiction of the place where people are feverishly waiting for the stopping of the roulette is absolutely extraordinary.Gregory Peck gives a riveting performance as the gambler down on his luck,and Ava Gardner's beauty shines all along the film.The supporting cast is up to scratch: Melvyn Douglas is like a puppeteer (the scene when he pretends he can't find Ostrovsky's notes belongs to him); Frank Morgan as a fallen mathematic teacher and Agnes Moorehead as the owner of a seedy pawn shop make all their scenes count.Ethel Barrymore is so talented an actress she does not need any words (except "banco" ) to express her gambling fever.

Like this ?try these.....

"Le Joueur" Claude Autant-Lara 1958 another Dostoievski adaptation,inferior to Siodmak's version.

"lo scopone scientifico" Luigi Comencini 1972

"La dame de Pique" Leonard Keigel 1965
26 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
rhillNYC17 November 2003
The people who are raking this little gem over the coals must either 1) not really like movies; 2) have seen the film on a bad videotape; or if we want to be generous, 3) be having a bad day.

I just came from a screening of a beautiful 35mm print, and I loved it! LOVED IT! Granted, the Christian allegory is laid on a bit thick at times, but the performances are wonderful, and the story will resonate with anyone mature enough to have grappled with his/her own dark side. It's a story of sacrifice and redemption, truly a battle writ large between good and evil.

I also highly suspect that Jacques Demy's BAY OF ANGELS (1963) is an homage to this film. Both use the casino as an apt metaphor for Hell, and in both films, characters are saved by love.

Siodmak is one of the great, underrated filmmakers of the 1940s, and while I don't like this film quite as much as his films noirs (The Killers, Criss-Cross) or his other masterful period drama, The Spiral Staircase, I do think The Great Sinner will satisfy anyone who appreciates the classical Hollywood style.
25 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The "Lost Weekend", spent gambling!
Lou Rugani20 September 1999
This is a sumptuously-staged costume drama, the kind Hollywood always did so well. Only there's a dark side to "The Great Sinner", as the richness of the production begins to coexist with sordid tales of gambling addiction and related human tragedy that soon unfold. No one is immune here; even stolid Gregory Peck falls to the lure of the cards, and hard. Ethel Barrymore is subtly wonderful, as ever, and steals every scene. This becomes a powerful, suspenseful film with a fine cast and a relentless tale to tell. Not to be missed!
17 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
a great cast in a film about the gambling bug
blanche-29 August 2006
Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Walter Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Ethel Barrymore, and Frank Morgan star in "The Great Sinner" about a writer who gets the gambling bug big-time. Set in the 1860s, the story concerns a writer (Peck) who falls for a woman (Gardner) whose life, and that of her father's (Huston), is dedicated to gambling. They're waiting for the matriarch of the family (Barrymore) to die so that they will no longer be beholden to the owner of a casino (Douglas). He has 200,000 (francs, I think) of the father's notes, and in return, he wants Gardner. One can hardly blame him - she's so gorgeous in this movie, and her costumes so stunning, she nearly burns up the celluloid. The writer tries his hand at gambling and soon becomes a complete addict.

The gambling scenes in this film are quite exciting, as anyone who has tasted the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at a slot machine will attest. Unfortunately, other than that, it's a rather talk-heavy movie without much action and seems to go on too long. Nevertheless, there are some good performances. Was Walter Huston ever anything but great? Peck is handsome and convincing as the fallen man. Agnes Moorhead has a small part, but she's excellent, as the nasty owner of a pawnshop. Frank Morgan also makes an appearance as an unlucky gambler.

Worth seeing for Gardner's looks and gowns alone.
15 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
" On the final brink of destruction, we all reach out for him "
thinker169113 July 2010
Perhaps it's his fine acting, his delivery style or his distinguished good looks. Whatever it is, Gregory Peck had displayed it in all his films. Here is one of his best, called " The Great Sinner. " If you've read Dostoyevsky's novel 'the Gambler', penned in 1867, you will have a pretty good idea where the movie came from. It's the story of a successful young writer named Fedja (Gregory Peck) who, while traveling through Europe, meets and is immediately struck by Pauline Ostrovsky (Ave Gardner) the daughter of a retired General. Through her, he discovers, she and her father are in great debt to the Casino owner, Armand de Glasse (Melvyn Douglas). Once in love, he realizes there is only one way to win her and that's to pay off her family's notes. With great but innocent naiveté he cautiously enters the world of gambling and is surprised by his extraordinary luck when he continues to win, win and eventually break the bank. Believing he can quit, he begins making plans to wed and move to the countryside. Unfortunately as most gamblers realize there is a subtle, yet, powerful addiction to winning and slowly it compels him to return to the alluring and enticing realm of the roulette wheel. This early Black and White movie is nearly a forgotten Classic of Peck's early career and were it not for his co-stars like, Walter Huston, Ethel Barrymore, Agnes Moorehead and Frank Morgan, it may have remained in obscurity. Instead, this wonderful, (albeit lengthy) and dramatic film has become a milestone for Gregory Peck and one which created an enduring legacy for this great actor. ****
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Weisbaden Follies
marcslope16 June 2003
Well, if it has Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Melvyn Douglas, Walter Huston, Ethel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, and Agnes Moorehead, I'm there. But the fact is, this costume epic aims for the grandeur and tragedy of 19th century European literature without laying the groundwork. It's a listlessly plotted gambling melodrama, with Noble Writer Peck succumbing to the charms of Gambling Lady Gardner (and she was never more luscious), then reversing roles with her as he becomes addicted to the roulette wheel and she comes to her senses. Some lively bitch-dialogue from Christopher Isherwood helps, and the starry supporting cast contributes incisive miniatures; Barrymore, who pops in 90 minutes into the running time, is a special hoot, subtler and less grand than usual. But as so often happens in late-'40s Hollywood, the production values are stultifying, and a God-will-provide fadeout is tacked on to provide Moral Redemption where there logically should be none. It's a painless two hours, and good for stargazing -- but hardly the serious look at a decadent aristocracy it might have been.
21 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
fantastic script by Ch. Asherwood...
taunus bop26 May 2002
This little-known gem is well worth checking. The fantastic script by Christopher Asherwood (one of the enfants terribles of the english literature of the 20th century) has some of the finest and memorable lines of the classic cinema. Ava Gardner never been so gorgeous. One cannot help feeling disturbed as the events go on, and the film is somehow unusual for the time for its moral and the pessimism it portraits. Definetely, Robert Siodmark's best. The allegorical final scene surely added by the studio is a real pity. After all we've seen, one can hardly find any hope in that universe, with or without the interceeding of God.
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Man Who Broke The Bank At Wiesbaden
bkoganbing6 April 2007
As Kirk Douglas's career was progressing nicely he had a choice of two different offers. He could play the title role in The Great Sinner, a big MGM film with a supporting cast of name players with Ava Gardner as a leading lady. Or he could do a small independent film for Stanley Kramer who was just starting out. Douglas chose the small film and wound up with an Oscar nomination for Champion.

Which left Gregory Peck who was apparently a second choice to play the Russian writer who stops off at the gambling resort of Wiesbaden in the 1860s just before German unification. He's on his way to Paris, but one sight of Ava Gardner getting off at Wiesbaden, makes Peck decide to abruptly change his plans.

As for Ava, certainly one can understand that she's beautiful enough to let one's hormones take over, but I got the feeling Ava just wasn't into the part really, as Greg was also not. It's also hard to believe that Walter Huston had won an Oscar for his previous film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. To overcome a trite story, Huston overacts outrageously, pulling everything out of a ham's bag of tricks.

Even Melvyn Douglas as the scheming casino owner takes his nineteenth century villainy from the Snidely Whiplash tradition. Agnes Moorehead as the old crone of a pawnbroker also indulges in some scenery chewing, her best example of that since Dark Passage.

Best in the film in my humble opinion is Frank Morgan as the former mathematics professor and now addicted gambler. He brings a real aura of tragedy to his small role.

The Great Sinner is a sluggishly paced film with a lot of very talented people just going through the motions. For a gambling story, I'll take Casino.

Don't believe me, Wanna bet?
16 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hollywood reworking of Dostoyevsky's "The Gambler"
At first glance, the writers of this unusual Hollywood film took the characters, location, period and premise of Dostoyevsky's novel "The Gambler" and reworked them in outrageous fashion in order to bring even more sex, moralizing guilt, titillation, debauchery and fun into the mix. It works and is very entertaining on that level. Anyone curious about the real thing might want to check out the French film "Le Joueur" by Claude Autant-Lara (1958), starring Gérard Philipe, which actually names it source, and its innumerable remakes. On the plus side, it gives Ava Gardner one of her most articulate roles and composer Bronislau Kaper a chance to incorporate a record number of light classics into his score.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the few Gregory Peck films I couldn't wait to see end,...
MartinHafer25 September 2006
Gregory Peck is one of my very favorite actors and if you were to skim my reviews of his films, you'd find that I often praised his movies as well as his wonderful acting. So, it is with deep regret that I say I have found another one of his films that I just didn't like (the other one that immediately comes to mind as well is his first film, DAYS OF GLORY). Now this movie started off very well and sustained its energy through the first half or so of the film. Seeing Peck fall for Ava Gardner and the movie's exploration of the evils of gambling was very interesting--though a bit heavy-handed. In particular, I liked the part played by Frank Morgan in one of his last films. His broken and dissipated gambling addict was heart-breaking and poignant.

However, the film just never knew when to stop. When Peck eventually gets the money to pay off Ava's and her father's gambling debts, I would have loved to see the movie end there. I would also have not minded if the movie had gone in the same direction it did--but had done it at a much faster and less tedious pace. Okay, having nice guy Peck save Gardner and her daddy from gambling only to be bitten by the gambling fever as well was interesting,...but not for another 30 or 40 minutes of the film--this portion of the film seemed to last hours!!! It was definitely a case of over-kill. Less would have definitely been more successful. But, instead, we are "treated" to watching Peck gamble again, and again, and again, ad nauseum. I can definitely see why this is one of Peck's lesser-known films. Take my advice and see him in any other film--it would be an improvement in most every case.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
whpratt116 December 2004
This was a fantastic film with great actors all appearing in this very convincing plot with a great moral theme. Gregory Peck,(Fedja),"Old Gringo",'89 started out simply trying to become a writer and got himself caught in the Web of Gambling. Fedja meets up with Ava Gardner,(Pauline Ostrovsky),"The Barefoot Contessa",'54, who really becomes involved deeply with Fedja and tries to give him comfort in many ways. Ava Garnder was very young and extremely beautiful in this black and white film. Ethel Barrymore,(Grandmother Ostrovsky),"The Spiral Staircase",'46, played a very wise like aged owl character, who was very handy with the card games and could read peoples minds! Frank Morgan,(Aristide Pitard),"The Wizard of Oz",'39 along with Agnes Moorehead,(Emma Getzel),"Bewitched",'64 TV Series gave great supporting roles. Emma Getzel was a pawn broker in this picture and acted more like a WITCH and ran into big trouble with Fedja when he tried to pawn a medal which she did not care to purchase. If you love to see a great Cast of famous actors all in one picture, I am sure you will find it worth your WHILE!
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
jaykay-1014 July 2003
Given the trappings of a classic philosophical statement and discourse on human nature, this well-intentioned miss offers, in the final analysis, little more than a familiar love story and a cautionary tale about the evils of gambling. The occasional allusions to matters of theology, morality, fate and chance (including the pretentious title) are not enough to provide formidable underpinnings to an essentially lightweight narrative concerning the need for self-discipline.

The exceptionally beautiful woman, under the influence of her dissolute father, is, for all intents and purposes, for sale to the man who has the wealth and willingness to support them both. After a young writer who is enamored of her ruins himself spiritually and financially in trying to satisfy those requirements, she acknowledges their genuine love and restores the health of his soul. If this sounds unconvincing, it plays that way on the screen, too.

MGM's production values are impressive as always, but accepting as "continental" types the likes of Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Walter Houston requires a lively imagination. There are, however, memorable if brief appearances by an effectively subdued Frank Morgan, and by Agnes Moorehead. The less said the better about an abrupt, awkward segment featuring Ethel Barrymore.
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Great Sinner- Sin To Make This Awful Film *
edwagreen5 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A top cast in a top flop movie.

Gregory Peck in a totally miserable film dealing with a man who wants to write about gambling and becomes a compulsive gambler himself. We had the same idea in the fabulous "Gentleman's Agreement," best picture Oscar winner of 2 years ago. That film had substance and heart. This is a complete mess.

The black and white film takes place in 1860's Wiesbaden, Germany. They should have said auf wiedersehn to this film to begin with.

Ava Gardner is absolutely awful in the role of Peck's love interest. Her father is played by compulsive gambler Walter Huston. He looks absolutely ridiculous in a white wig. Frank Morgan is in this junk as a math professor who commits suicide after losing a bundle. Later on, he revisits Peck in a nightmare dream and hands him a gun.

Agnes Moorehead is the pawn shop lady where everyone goes to after they have lost their shirt. She is ugly and nasty. The biggest joke is Ethel Barrymore, a hag who is the mother of Huston and grandma of Gardner. She is supposedly dying throughout this mess but suddenly shows up and gambles away until she dies at the table-after dropping millions!

It's amazing that acting talent like this could find themselves in such a mess. Peck smokes cigarettes bigger than his face. Melvyn Douglas owns the casino and loves Gardner. After Peck wins over $200,000 Douglas tricks him as he knows that he will come back for more.

This is a colossal bomb. How this ever got made is beyond me. The film should forever be in the green circular file.

The last scene is too much where Peck finds redemption after visiting a church. You need more than a Bing Crosby-Father O'Malley for this garbage. If this had been the fabulous "Kings of the Kingdom," I would have suggested that the keys should be thrown away.

Who wrote this stuff? The 3 Stooges?
6 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
To This The Great Agnes Moorehead Had Sunk
Only seven years after her great performance in "The Magnificent Ambersons," Agnes Moorehead is shrill and implausible as a pawnbroker in this expensive looking mess.

Gregory Peck (even when he's supposed to look dissipated, in stubbly beard) and Ava Gardner make a very appealing pair. She does her best and he is not bad.

The rest of the cast does what it can-- but Walter Huston and Frank Morgan in white wigs and beards?

Robert Siodmak directed some superb movies. This is not one of them. Dostoyevsky has been adapted and borrowed from by Hollywood -- sometimes successfully and, here, not very successfully at all.
6 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Barely okay
tksaysso6 April 2007
There is little to no reasoning in this movie. We are supposed to believe that Gregory Peck's character, supposedly an intelligent writer, would throw away his entire life and future based on his compulsion to gamble after his initial exposure to gambling. Would you risk possibly losing the beautiful Ava Gardner to a spin of the roulette wheel or the turn of a card? Uhmmm...not this cowboy.

Too many great actors in this film for it to be so average.......Ethel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Frank Morgan...When I think of the movie that could have been made with this cast I feel cheated by this movie. This is one of the few times I believe that Gregory Peck should have turned the script down. Like most Hollywood productions of the 1940's the sets and costumes are lush and believable. It's too bad that the plot didn't follow suit.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fantastic classic of a gambler
HotToastyRag8 August 2017
Before Gregory Peck played heroes in movies about American integrity, he took a few villainous, or at least troubled, roles. In The Great Sinner, Greg plays a compulsive gambler, and he gives a wonderful performance.

At first, he's just a writer who wants to write about the incredible sickness of gambling, but before long, he finds out firsthand how the sickness can take over a man's life. What I love most about this movie is the realism of the script and performances. I've heard this movie compared to The Lost Weekend, a movie about alcoholism, but I found The Great Sinner to be much more realistic in its portrayal of addiction. Greg's performance is fantastic, and it's great to see the contrast of how he was before he started gambling. As the movie continues, he becomes desperate, cruel, and self-loathing. Many times Hollywood shows the glitz and glamour associated with gambling, but since this is a period piece, there's no neon lights or Las Vegas strip. It's in black-and-white, it's dirty without being filthy, it warns without becoming melodramatic, and it's heart-wrenching.

Greg is flanked by an all-star supporting cast, including Melvyn Douglas, Ethel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Agnes Moorehead, Walter Huston, and his favorite leading lady Ava Gardner. I don't usually like Ava Gardner, but this movie is an exception. I highly recommend it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Dice of the Gods are Loaded.
Robert J. Maxwell8 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well, it bears little resemblance to Dostoyevsky's novel, it's the closest that Gregory Peck has ever come to overacting, and it was a flop at the box office, but I kind of liked it.

Peck narrates the story of a writer, a man of probity, who falls for a beautiful young woman, Ava Gardner, in the casino town of Wiesbaden. Except for some elegantly overripe dialog, that's about as close as it gets to an autobiographical account by the Russian novelist.

Peck's character doesn't gamble but he feels there's a story in the various addicts around the tables. Some of them gamble away everything they have and then shoot themselves. "Try to see that it doesn't happen at the table," says the ruthless manager, Melvyn Douglas.

Peck learns that Gardner is committed to marrying Douglas as a way of paying off her father's gambling debt. He throws a coin on the table and wins. He wins again. He continues to win until he has more than enough money to pay off the debt and take Gardner for himself.

Little did they know that tragedy lay just around the corner.

Peck has practically a suitcase full of bills, minus the ones stolen by Gardner's father, Walter Huston. The night before he and Gardner are about to run off together, Peck is gripped by the conviction that he can win still more. He loses it all. Then he pawns everything he owns, is thrown out of his hotel room and consigned to the servant's quarters, grows a stubbly beard and long hair, and, overall, begins to look like a bum.

He avoids everyone he knows and stumbles finally into a church. At first, in the shadows, he hears coins tinkling into the poor box and his eyes gleam. But, lo, an epiphany. As the heavenly chorus swells, he stares up at the beams of light spilling into the chapel and falls to his knees. What is money, after all? Just a piece of paper crawling with germs, as someone once observed. It ends with a reformed Peck nuzzling Gardner's oh-so-nuzzlable neck. Then they both starve to death. (Just kidding; this is an MGM movie.)

The cast is terrific. Peck has rarely been so animated. And when he's in the midst of his winning streak, he GRABS for the bills coming his way with a maniacal grin. Gardner is pretty. Walter Huston is pompous and a thief, thoroughly enjoyable. Ethel Barrymore makes a brief appearance. And Agnes Moorehead is the wicked crone of a pawn broker. The script has Peck in her shop, trying to pawn a religious icon that isn't his, and when she screeches insults, he begins to crawl towards a nearby axe. He's going to murder the old pawnbroker lady with an axe. The writers got their stories mixed up.

I don't know why it was such a failure. It's no masterpiece but the playing was decent, and the plot was involving.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
For her love
esteban17479 December 2007
Any person can change his behavior up to his degradation according to the circumstances, and this film is an evidence of it. One may have a normal life without difficulties, but one day that life is strongly changed by an unpredictable factor. That factor may be love, and those things which appeared to be non sense are becoming important, and the life's person is seriously shaken. Young then Gregory Peck stars this film in the role of the writer Fedja, probably Feodor as full name, while beautiful Ava Gardner, for me probably the three women most beautiful ever in Hollywood, co-stars as attractive Pauline Ostrovsky. The rest of the cast has excellent actors as Walter Huston, Melvyn Douglas and already old Ethel Barrymore. It is clear that the environment of the film is during the XIX century. The value of the film is in its morale, at that time gambling was like the nowadays drug, rich people used to be vicious of gambling. Love may also affect the
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Siodmak's cinematic artistry well worth a watch.
st-shot2 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This cannibalized version of Dostoyevsky's novel The Gambler under the masterful hand of Robert Siodmak moves mightily throughout before it collapsing under the sudden weight of heavy handed denouement.

Aspiring novelist Fejda (Gregory Peck) has a confident air about him as he boards a train that will take him to Paris. Sharing a compartment with Pauline Ostrovsky (Ava Gardner) he is soon bewitched by her and decides to stay in Wiesbarden to pursue her. Oststrovsky and her father both are addicted to gambling and their debts to a casino prevent her from leaving with Fejda. Fejda in the meantime develops an addiction and begins to spiral out of control.

Few if any film directors spoke cinema language as eloquently as the German born director Robert Siodmak. His noir cycle (especially Criss Cross, The Killers and Cry of the City ) are remarkable examples of form and content and while Sinner is not a noir it retains noir elements ideal to the downward thrust of the story line and its characters. In scene after scene Siodmak (ably assisted by distinguished cinematographer George Folsey) gives Sinner a healthy undercurrent of tension and suspense throughout with revealing compositions and startling close-ups. In one magnificent exposition shot Siodmak in under three minutes sums up the grandeur, the pitfalls, the types as well as the condescension of the self assured protagonist before the fall gracefully moving within the confines of the film's center stage, the casino.

The entire big name cast lives up to its billing though the leads are out shined by a sterling supporting group. Peck has some excellent mad scenes and Gardner's beauty is convincing enough in the early moments to persuade Fejda to pursue her but when she goes from bad to good (as she did in 55 days at Peking) she becomes less convincing. Melvyn Douglas, Walter Huston Frank Morgan, Ethel Barrymore and Agnes Moorehead (a pawnbroker whose shop is the setting for another Siodmak visual tour de force moment) are all in top form.

An intriguing side note to the performances are the way Siodmak (a Jew himself) portrays in a greedy and cynical light the films most obvious Jewish characters ( the pawnbroker and a vulture like jeweler, played unctuously by Curt Bois) four years after the end of World War Two. Suffice to say these characterizations today would have a hard time getting out of the editing room and when you combine the protagonist's Christian redemption (hokey but stunningly shot) Sinner finds itself somewhere between Judex and Maurice Chevalier's Gigi.

Still there is no denying the brilliant talent and command of the art form Siodmak possessed and in spite of its cop out ending The Great Sinner provides more than enough evidence to prove it.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A totally pointless movie.
dnwalker15 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was so stupid I can't believe it was ever made. A man who has never gambled and knows nothing about it wins $200,000 in one day and then suddenly loses all his intelligence and starts just throwing money away for no good reason. Insipid!
3 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Russian roulette
jotix10023 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"The Great Sinner", an MGM feature of 1949 was an adaptation of "The Gambler" a novel by the great Russian writer Dostoievski. As conceived for the screen, it had all the elements for it to succeed. Yet watching it sixty years later, this effort directed by Robert Siodmak, a man who gave us many satisfying moments at the movies, gives the impression that perhaps he was the wrong man to have been at the helm.

Fedja, a writer, meets the gorgeous Pauline Ostrovsky on a train bound for Paris. It becomes evident she has cast a spell on him. That attraction will appear to be fatal as this young man decides on a whim to abandon his plans and get off at Wiesbaden, Germany, Pauline's destination. Unknown to him, she is a gambler, and so is her father, a Russian nobleman, General Ostrovsky.

Pauline is the object of the affection of Armand De Glasse, the owner of the casino in the city. What Fedja does not know is the way Pauline's connection to De Glasse is based on. She, and her father owe this man 200,000 francs, an enormous figure, in those days. Fedge, who is not into gambling decides to try his luck in the roulette table in order to win enough money to repay the Ostrovskys debt. That way, he figures he will be able to keep Pauline.

As he starts to gamble, Fedja begins losing almost everything he brought, then, as if by magic, he goes to break the bank, making more than what is owed. But Fedja, unable to keep his head, and his purse, goes back for more, which proves to be his downfall. He ends up poor, destitute and sick, and what is more, he begins losing Pauline, as well.

Gregory Peck, a good actor, is not at his best in the romantic lead of this film. Ava Gardner, a feast for the eyes, gives a flat performance. The two stars did not show a chemistry that one felt was believable. Most of the supporting cast, especially Frank Morgan and Walter Huston, practically overplay their parts. Even suave Melvin Douglas is not as effective as in other of his best creations. Ethel Barrymore and Agnes Moorehead, have some luck with their small time in front of the camera.

Robert Siodmak will still be remembered for films like "Criss Cross", "Cry of the City" and "The Killers", among others, but alas, not for this one.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
There are too many endings to this film
ninja_superstar-119 March 2010
This film is ultimately unsatisfying because it comes to an ending as a romance, an unintended dark farce, a moral play on the evils of gambling, and a cinematic exploration of social disease. I was only interested in the romance between Peck and the beautiful Gardner. But this story line is thrown under the bus, run over, and dragged for another 40 minutes. The allure of gambling controls the last half of the movie as the only real character. Why waste the viewer's time building up a great cast only to leave them all for a boring cautionary tale? If this is in keeping with the source material, some artistic license would not have been out of line.
1 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews