The Great Sinner (1949)

108 or 110 mins | Romance | June 1949

Full page view
HISTORY

A working title for this film was The Gamblers . Although not noted in the onscreen credits, this film is based on the novella The Gambler by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky is referred to indirectly in the film's prologue, which states that "the story is inspired by the work of a great writer, a gambler himself, who played for his life and won immortality." Noting the absence of a credit for Dostoevsky, the HR reveiewer wrote that "somewhere down the line Dostoevsky...seems to have been given the brushoff by the producers." Although the film lists "Fedja" as the name of the character played by Gregory Peck, M-G-M studio publicity material and the CBCS refer to the character as "Fodor Dostoievsky."
       Modern sources draw many parallels between the fictional character of "Fedja" and the life of Dostoevsky. A May 1940 HR news item indicates that Warner Bros. planned to film a version of The Gambler starring Albert Basserman and directed by William Dietrle, but that film was never made. A May 1948 LAEx news item noted that Lana Turner was originally set to star opposite Gregory Peck. According to Melvyn Douglas' autobiography, he initially rejected his assignment to this film as his last under his M-G-M contract, and only agreed to do it as a personal favor for M-G-M production head Dore Schary. The Great Sinner received mostly unfavorable reviews when it was released, and a biography of Ava Gardner notes that Robert Siodmak was so disappointed with the film that he later refused to admit that he had directed it. Dostoevsky's novella was ... More Less

A working title for this film was The Gamblers . Although not noted in the onscreen credits, this film is based on the novella The Gambler by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky is referred to indirectly in the film's prologue, which states that "the story is inspired by the work of a great writer, a gambler himself, who played for his life and won immortality." Noting the absence of a credit for Dostoevsky, the HR reveiewer wrote that "somewhere down the line Dostoevsky...seems to have been given the brushoff by the producers." Although the film lists "Fedja" as the name of the character played by Gregory Peck, M-G-M studio publicity material and the CBCS refer to the character as "Fodor Dostoievsky."
       Modern sources draw many parallels between the fictional character of "Fedja" and the life of Dostoevsky. A May 1940 HR news item indicates that Warner Bros. planned to film a version of The Gambler starring Albert Basserman and directed by William Dietrle, but that film was never made. A May 1948 LAEx news item noted that Lana Turner was originally set to star opposite Gregory Peck. According to Melvyn Douglas' autobiography, he initially rejected his assignment to this film as his last under his M-G-M contract, and only agreed to do it as a personal favor for M-G-M production head Dore Schary. The Great Sinner received mostly unfavorable reviews when it was released, and a biography of Ava Gardner notes that Robert Siodmak was so disappointed with the film that he later refused to admit that he had directed it. Dostoevsky's novella was the basis or inspiration for many foreign-made films, as well as Paramount's 1974 film The Gambler , directed by Karel Reisz and starring James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jul 1949.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jun 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Jul 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
25 May 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Jul 49
p. 4665.
New York Times
30 Jun 49
p. 19.
Variety
29 Jun 49
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Sayre Deering
Frank Jacquet
Ken Tobey
Guests in General's suite:
Guests in casino:
Jeraldine Jordan
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus cond
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novella Igrok ( The Gambler ) by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (Russia, 1866).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Gamblers
Release Date:
June 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 Jun 1949
Production Date:
early Oct--late Dec 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 July 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2452
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108 or 110
Length(in feet):
9,848
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13593
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the famous casino resort town of Wiesbaden, Germany, during the wild, decadent days of the 1860s, young Pauline Ostrovsky, a reformed gambling addict, watches over Fedja, a talented writer whose obsessive love for her and his near-ruination from gambling has resulted in physical collapse. As Pauline reads from the pages of Fedja's most recent manuscript, she is reminded of the time when she first met the handsome writer: Traveling on the Moscow to Paris train, Pauline and Fedja, seated opposite each other, exchange glances in silence until the train arrives in Wiesbaden, where Pauline breaks the silence by coyly suggesting that Fedja follow her. Fedja follows Pauline into the gambling casino, and soon discovers that she, like her father, General Ostrovsky, is a gambling addict. Fedja begins to understand the full extent of the Ostrovskys' gambling illness when he sees both the General and Pauline take pleasure in the news that the General's rich mother is dying, and immediately gamble away the fortunes they expect to inherit. Though repulsed by the world of gambling, Fedja decides to stay in Wiesbaden to undertake a character study of those who thrive on casino life. One such person is the tragically compulsive gambler and thief Aristide Pitard, who steals Fedja's bet and loses all his money at the roulette table. Fedja takes pity on Aristide and gives him enough money to leave Wiesbaden, but Aristide instead uses the money to continue gambling. After losing once more, Aristide shoots himself in desperation, and on his deathbed asks Fedja to return a religious medal that he stole from a young woman. However, Aristide dies before ... +


In the famous casino resort town of Wiesbaden, Germany, during the wild, decadent days of the 1860s, young Pauline Ostrovsky, a reformed gambling addict, watches over Fedja, a talented writer whose obsessive love for her and his near-ruination from gambling has resulted in physical collapse. As Pauline reads from the pages of Fedja's most recent manuscript, she is reminded of the time when she first met the handsome writer: Traveling on the Moscow to Paris train, Pauline and Fedja, seated opposite each other, exchange glances in silence until the train arrives in Wiesbaden, where Pauline breaks the silence by coyly suggesting that Fedja follow her. Fedja follows Pauline into the gambling casino, and soon discovers that she, like her father, General Ostrovsky, is a gambling addict. Fedja begins to understand the full extent of the Ostrovskys' gambling illness when he sees both the General and Pauline take pleasure in the news that the General's rich mother is dying, and immediately gamble away the fortunes they expect to inherit. Though repulsed by the world of gambling, Fedja decides to stay in Wiesbaden to undertake a character study of those who thrive on casino life. One such person is the tragically compulsive gambler and thief Aristide Pitard, who steals Fedja's bet and loses all his money at the roulette table. Fedja takes pity on Aristide and gives him enough money to leave Wiesbaden, but Aristide instead uses the money to continue gambling. After losing once more, Aristide shoots himself in desperation, and on his deathbed asks Fedja to return a religious medal that he stole from a young woman. However, Aristide dies before he names the woman from whom he stole the medal. Fedja later discovers that the medal belonged to Pauline when he sees that she is the only person other than himself at Aristide's funeral service. In time, Fedja falls in love with Pauline, to whom he returns the medal, only to discover that the General has arranged Pauline's marriage to Armand De Glasse, the casino's ruthless manager, as a substitute for payment on his enormous gambling debt to Armand. Hoping to win Pauline back, Fedja decides to win enough money to pay the General's debt himself, and begins by betting his life savings at the roulette table. By the time Fedja wins more than he needs to pay the General's debt, he is obsessed with on gambling and continues his betting in a maniacal fashion. Eventually, Fedja's luck runs out, and though he loses everything, he continues to gamble with money he borrows from Armand. After putting up all his writings as security, Fedja, increasingly desperate for money, pawns his last remaining possessions. Fedja, now completely broke, becomes delirious and has a vision in which Aristide hands him a gun to shoot himself. While Pauline tries to help Fedja, he rips the medal off her neck and tries to sell it at the pawnshop. The pawnbroker, Emma Getzel, refuses to take the medal, and Fedja nearly kills her until he collapses and loses consciousness. Pauline's recollection of events in the past comes to a close when she discovers that Fedja has completed his manuscript about the world of gambling and can now pay his debts. Pauline then reassures Fedja that he has not written the last chapter in their story and forgives him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.