Sadie Thompson (1928)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.  

USA, 1928.  .  Adaptation by Raoul Walsh, titles by , based on the story Rain by , and the play by , .  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by , Raoul Walsh.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by C. Gardner Sullivan. 

Gloria Swanson acted as uncredited producer on this adaptation of a controversial Somerset Maugham story, as no studio would go near its steamy content.  She is outstanding as a worldly woman who alights on a South Seas island in the hopes of catching a connecting voyage to her ultimate tropical destination.  Delays in travel force her to stay put for a number of days, immediately grabbing the attention of uniformed men who are starved for the company of perfumed and veil-hatted white women, while simultaneously inspiring the ire of a self-righteous religious leader (Lionel Barrymore) who decides she is a prostitute and must be deported.  Swanson’s live-for-today gusto fights his pleasure-is-sin misery with all her might before a sense of guilt has her try to become a virtuous woman, which then places Barrymore in a position to have his own weaknesses put to the test.  Beautifully photographed and lorded over by Swanson’s outstanding performance (she was nominated at the very first Academy Awards for this), the film was long thought lost until an incomplete print was found in Mary Pickford’s house after Swanson’s death in 1983.  Restoration efforts replace the missing final reel with still photographs and some footage from the 1932 sound remake Rain starring Joan Crawford.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Actress (Gloria Swanson); Best Cinematography


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