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John Francis Dillon
Robert Emmett O'Connor
Sadie Thompson arrives in Pago-Pago to start a new life, but when extremist missionary Davidson lashes out against her lifestyle and tries to force her back to San Francisco, she may lose her second chance. Written by
Mike Myers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gloria Swanson takes hold of the screen and does not for one minute let it go in this adaptation of a W. Somerset Maugham novella about a free-wheeling firecracker (read: prostitute) who comes under the tyranny of a self-appointed reformer (a frightening Lionel Barrymore) in a battle of wills over her salvation. Swanson received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her work in the very first year of Oscar's existence. She lost to Janet Gaynor, who was nominated for a trio of performances that first year, but I'm not so sure she shouldn't have won. Raoul Walsh, tough-guy director of later films like James Cagney's "White Heat" (1949), directed "Sadie Thompson" and stars in the film as Sadie's love interest. The whole thing unfolds in a tropical location during a downpour, and it captures the over-heated exotic atmosphere perfectly.
The film's impact is somewhat blunted because of its missing last moments. The version I saw reconstructed the final 10 minutes or so using still shots and title cards; one can only imagine what the actual footage was like. The film has a rather startling conclusion, not because I don't agree with it but rather because a mere ten years later (after enforcement of the Production Code) and for decades after, it wouldn't have been allowed to end the way it does, with Sadie exposing religion as a hypocritical sham and not changing her own racy tendencies one bit.
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