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For residents on the idyllic South Seas island of Pago Pago, life is simple until a boat arrives carrying two couples, the Davidsons (who are missionaries), the MacPhails and a prostitute named Sadie Thompson. Davidson is more than just a religious zealot; he's a mad man. When the boat, which was en route to another port, is temporarily stranded on the island due to a possible Cholera outbreak on-board, Sadie spends her time "partying" with the American soldiers stationed on the island. Her behavior, however, is more than the Davidsons can stand and soon Mr. Davidson confronts Sadie about her evil ways and offers salvation. When Sadie rebels and the attempted redemption does not go as planned, Davidson arranges to have her sent back to San Francisco, where she fled some years ago due to mysterious personal issues. Davidson soon becomes unhinged and thus begins a series of surprising events which culminate in disaster. Written by
For reasons that likely have much to do with her self-perceptions, insecurities, and desires for her screen image, Joan Crawford never liked her performance in this fine film. I do not know why; she was never better. The first talkie of the classic Jeanne Eagels' play "Rain", it was effective in every way even though it uses many old-time editing cuts and inserts. They actually worked, and I liked the direction very much, too. Huston was fine as the sanctimonious but sincere preacher trying to convert the "loose woman" Sadie Thompson - but in the end loses the battle, something I wish was shown, but then it wasn't in the play or book so I shouldn't expect it. A fine film, and the antique-type music adds to the effect. See the IMDb review of the serviceble Rita Hayworth version, "Sadie Thompson", and the horrid movie on the life of the actress, "Jeanne Eagels" which contains scenes with Kim Novak trying to recreate the stage play.
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