Two American soldiers are captured by the Germans on the Western Front during World War One and escape a POW camp only to stumble into further life-threatening adventures when they come across an Arabian king's daughter while on the lam.
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>
Religious hypocrisy is the main theme of 'Sadie Thompson', based on a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. Sharing the same hotel in Pago Pago, a religious reformer (Lionel Barrymore) takes a dim view of a 'loose' woman (Gloria Swanson), and after failing to get her to change her ways, lobbies the local governor to get her shipped back to San Francisco.
I liked this version a bit better than the 1932 version with Walter Huston and Joan Crawford because Barrymore is so brilliant, so harshly upright but at the same time, hinting at a demonic side as he glowers away. Despite the movie being silent, director Raoul Walsh (who also plays Swanson's love interest) delivers a couple of compelling scenes with Barrymore trying to exert his will, Swanson resisting, and the rain coming down, unrelenting. Swanson also lets loose with her anger, and in one funny moment it's obvious she's cursed a blue streak, as the ladies around her cover their ears and scamper off. 1928 was the first year for the Oscars and Swanson would be nominated for her performance. I admire her for it, but admire her more for producing the movie despite pressure because of its content, and considered a slightly higher rating.
The film itself is not in that great a shape, and while the last couple of minutes are mostly gone forever, we're fortunate that Dennis Doros restored it as best possible mostly with carefully selected stills. Watching this one has you clearly thinking you're getting a window into the past, but at the same time, aren't these themes of religious overreach still so prevalent today? Thank you Gloria Swanson.
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