SADIE THOMPSON reached the screen after extensive wrangling over how much of the sexual content of Somerset Maugham's short story, Rain, could be preserved. Sexy Sadie (Gloria Swanson) has come to a remote South Sea in hopes that she can escape her shady past as a prostitute. Marine Sgt.
Tim O'Hara (Raoul Walsh) is smitten with her, and she promises to marry him. But she's run afoul of a hypocritical reformer, Alfred Hamilton (Lionel Barrymore), who's on the island converting the natives with the help of his dour wife (Blanche Friderici). Sadie's initial reaction to Hamilton is to
ignore him, rebuffing his talk of sin and salvation with a flip remark and a hard-boiled look. But he badgers her relentlessly, insisting that she must confess her sins, and eventually resorts to blackmail: Hamilton says he'll have her deported to one of the islands where she's still wanted by the
law if she won't embrace the word of the Lord. Eventually she succumbs to his blandishments, expresses remorse for her past and embraces religion. But Hamilton's holiness is only skin deep: He lusts for Sadie, and one night forces himself on her, then commits suicide in a fit of guilt and self
pitying rage at his own weakness. Sadie's budding faith is destroyed, but she's reunited with O'Hara and they leave the island together. Variety's reviewer opined that after all the rumors about the production, viewers would almost certainly be disappointed by the bowdlerized Sadie, who arrived
"[w]ith so much 'poison' extracted that she's fangless. Nobody's going to get excited about this old girl." Though certainly more suggestive than explicit, that judgment is a bit harsh. Director Raoul Walsh, who started his movie career as an actor, returned to the screen for the first time in a
decade, playing O'Hara opposite Swanson, then at the height of her career as one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars. Rain was filmed again in 1932, with Joan Crawford playing Miss Sadie Thompson.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: SADIE THOMPSON reached the screen after extensive wrangling over how much of the sexual content of Somerset Maugham's short story, Rain, could be preserved. Sexy Sadie (Gloria Swanson) has come to a remote South Sea in hopes that she can escape her shady p… (more)