Seven Sinners (1940 film)

Seven Sinners (UK title Cafe of the Seven Sinners) is a 1940 American drama romance film directed by Tay Garnett starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne in the first of three films they made together.[2] The film was produced by Universal Pictures in black and white.

Seven Sinners
Film poster
Directed byTay Garnett
Produced byJoe Pasternak
Written byJohn Meehan
Harry Tugend
Based onstory by Ladislas Fodor
László Vadnay
StarringMarlene Dietrich
John Wayne
Music byHans J. Salter
Frank Skinner
CinematographyRudolph Maté
Edited byTed J. Kent
Joe Pasternak Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • October 25, 1940 (1940-10-25)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States


The film spotlights the controversial life of torch singer Bijou Blanche (Dietrich), who has been kicked off one South Seas island after another. She is accompanied by naval deserter Edward Patrick 'Little Ned' Finnegan (Broderick Crawford) and magician/pickpocket Sasha Mencken (Mischa Auer). Eventually, she meets a handsome, young naval officer, Lt. Dan Brent (Wayne), and the two fall in love. When Brent vows to marry Bijou, his commander and others plead with him to leave her.



Dietrich had just revived her career with Destry Rides Again (1939) and this film featured many of the same elements, including cast members. She was paid $150,000 for her performance.[1]

The film was the second American film for Anna Lee (although the first to be released). She says Marlene Dietrich insisted Lee dye her hair from blonde to brown so she would not clash with Dietrich. She also says Dietrich selected John Wayne as her leading man after spotting him in the commissary and saying to producer Joe Pasternak, "Mommy wants that for Christmas."[3]

Filming took place from July to September 14, 1940. Wayne and Dietrich had an affair during the making of the film.[1]


In 1950, the film was remade as South Sea Sinner, starring Macdonald Carey and Shelley Winters.

See also


  1. Eyman, Scott (2015). John Wayne: The Life and Legend. Simon and Schuster. p. 109-111.
  2. "Seven Sinners (1940)". NY Times. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  3. Bawden, James; Miller, Ron (2016). Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era. Kentucky Press. p. 209.
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