The great director Frank Borzage knew he had a magical couple when he cast Janet Gaynor (”A Star is Born”) and Charles Farrell in his “7th Heaven,” which had enjoyed a long run as a play on Broadway before happily turning out to be Borzage’s greatest film.

Audiences loved both stars, who had been entertaining them regularly. Here was the opportunity to see them together.

I’ve never been a big fan of silent films, and I approached “7th Heaven” cautiously, never having seen a film with actor Charles Farrell, who years later popped up on a television sitcom, “My Little Margie.”

I had fond memories of Gaynor after seeing her in the 1937 color talkie of “A Star Is Born” with Fredric March.

Borzage was well known after his splendid versions of “Man’s Castle” with Spencer Tracy, and “Mortal Storm,” which starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. But his silents?

This week we’re introduced to Borzage’s splendid “7th Heaven,” a stunning, glorious film full of surprises, beautiful lighting, innovative framing, and glowing close-ups of Janet Gaynor’s famous eyes.

In every scene of “7th Heaven,” Borzage kept moving in as close as he possibly could get to Gaynor’s eyes. Gaynor was light years ahead of other film stars in embracing the technique of close-ups. Joan Crawford was another.

Farrell, as “Chico,” on the other hand, while charming and dashing, fills up the screen with his body, throwing his arms about in great theatrical motions.

The film begins in the sewers of Paris with Chico (Farrell), a Parisian sewer cleaner who spends his days below with a partner, unblocking the sewer of discarded bedding, clothing and what looks like body parts.

Chico hates his job but keeps a healthy attitude. “I may work in the sewers, but I live up in the stars,” he bellows, referring to his tiny, cluttered atelier on the seventh floor of a shabby building.

When by a stroke of luck, Chico is promoted to his dream job of street washer, he moves up into the sunlight, where he runs into street urchin Diane (Gaynor), who has been betrayed by her absinthe-addicted evil sister (Gladys Brockwell), who, in a jealous fit, sets the police on Diane for crimes she didn’t commit.

Chico, smitten by Diane’s angelic sweetness, rescues her by telling the police she’s his wife. When the police leave, Chico tells her, “You can go now. I have no use for a wife.”

But as he walks away, he sees that Diane has found his knife and is trying to kill herself. Chico relents and reluctantly takes her home to his “house in the sky.”

“Until the police check on us,” he says. “After that, you can go where you like.”

But of course, after living on the street, Diane “likes” it just fine. She sweeps and dusts, cooks great soups and makes an effort to stay out of his way, not a neat trick in a one-room “heaven.”

Bit by bit, Diane warms the heart of this egotistical former sewer cleaner who thinks of himself as “one very remarkable fellow.”

Love, as it must, takes hold of Chico’s heart, especially when Diane mends his old jackets and makes those wonderful soups.

When one night she says, “I’m not used to being happy. … It’s funny, it hurts,” Chico’s heart finally melts. He shocks her when he brings home a “proposal gift,” a splendid white dress that is clearly a wedding dress. Without benefit of clergy (Chico considers himself a strong atheist), they marry and promise eternal love.

To make a short story even shorter, Borzage, in a series of incredible shots that dazzled Hollywood, brings on the Great War with exploding buildings, cannon fire and smoke.

But despite all, “7th Heaven” miraculously survives, even as Chico, aflame with patriotism, marches off to war.

Borzage fills his last moments with tenderness and dread and perhaps a miracle or two, as news from the front comes to Paris.

Farrell and Gaynor made 12 more films together after “7th Heaven,” but none as good as this lasting tribute to the great era of silent films. And where else can you spot the first efforts of that great comedic actor, Henry Armetta, the foil of the Marx Brothers? Enjoy.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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