Produced by MGM in 1957, The Seventh Sin was the second filming of W. Somerset
Maugham’s The Painted Veil. It was not a success; the stiff acting of
Bill Travers (Dr Walter Carwin) and, in this instance, a less than convincing
Eleanor Parker as his unfaithful wife, Carol, did not help. The only leading
actor to make any impression was George Sanders reprising his familiar cynical,
world-weary role as the dissolute Tim Waddington, an Englishman living in a
remote region of China to where Dr Carwin is posted from Hong Kong to treat
the victims of a cholera outbreak. Waddington encourages Carol to help orphan
children so as to escape the bitterness of life with her estranged husband after
he had discovered that she had been having an affair in Hong Kong.
Rózsa’s score combines colourful oriental scene-setting material with dramatic almost
film noir type of music for the Carwins’s unhappy, tension-filled relationship.
The Prelude has a brief Asian-accented fanfare that sets the scene in Hong Kong
and the main theme is bold and questing, much like Rózsa’s music for
Lust for Life, only darker in mood. The score has many of the familiar
Rózsa fingerprints and one might be forgiven for thinking that there
is too much routine, too little that is memorable or original in so many of
the score’s brooding, troubled cues relating to Carol’s relationships. Even
the warmer music associated with her "redemption" in working
with the children treads too familiar territory. Having said that, the climactic
‘Bad news/rough passage/forgiveness’ has some quality Rózsa in its intense,
dramatic material. The warmest, most truly romantic music in this score is reserved
for the relationship between Waddington and his Chinese wife. ‘East Meets West/Tea
Party’ is a lovely soothing lyrical interlude – a lovely shimmering blend of
Asian melodies and inventive western orchestration. Rózsa’s celebrated
knack of faithfully reproducing the spirit of a locale is evident here in his
use of striking oriental textures and effects in the travelling cues in ‘Boat
Trip’ and ‘Cortege’.
Of this 60-minute album some 19 minutes are devoted to source music comprising
a 2˝ minute waltz heard by the Carwins at a Hong Kong party and a colourful,
evocative 16˝ minute ‘Chinese Montage’ that uses small ensembles to simulate
music frequently heard in Chinese shopping streets. The 12-page booklet includes
full track-by-track analysis and details about the production of the film.
Not amongst the most memorable Rózsa scores, but notable for its colourful
and often delicate use of oriental harmonies and orchestrations.