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Sadie Thompson (1928)

Unrated | | Drama | 7 January 1928 (USA)
A prostitute seeking a fresh start becomes the obsession of a religious extremist.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

W. Somerset Maugham (story), Raoul Walsh (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Alfred Davidson
Blanche Friderici ... Mrs. Alfred Davidson
Charles Lane Charles Lane ... Dr. Angus McPhail
Florence Midgley Florence Midgley ... Mrs. Angus McPhail
James A. Marcus ... Joe Horn, the trader
Sofia Ortega Sofia Ortega ... Ameena
Will Stanton ... Quartermaster Bates
Raoul Walsh ... Sergeant Timothy 'Tim' O'Hara
Gloria Swanson ... Sadie Thompson
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Storyline

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 <mmyers@ucsd.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Piercing drama on an isle in the tropic South Seas! The star of stars in the picture of pictures! Gloria Swanson, glorious exponent of emotion, in the finest film of her career! "Sadie's" the lady you'll never forget! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

7 January 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La frágil voluntad See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(reconstructed) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unseen for many years because the last reel had decomposed, the final eight minutes have been reconstructed using production stills and title cards, allowing modern audiences to see an approximation of the complete film. See more »

Quotes

Alfred Davidson: I've been talking to the natives - they're so depraved I actually have to teach them what sin is.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally released at 97 minutes. Out of circulation for decades because the final reel of the picture was destroyed due to film decay. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sunset Blvd. (1950) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Gloria is Magic!
29 March 2007 | by ducdebrabantSee all my reviews

In a number of different ways, "Sadie Thompson" shows how much guts Gloria Swanson had. In the first place, it wouldn't even exist if she hadn't turned down an extremely lucrative contract from Famous Players/Lasky in order to become her own producer at United Artists. There had been a gentlemen's agreement among the major Hollywood producers that none of them would buy the play "Rain," but Swanson was of course not a party to it. What she actually did was very clever and sneaky. She bought Maugham's original story "The Fall of a Leaf" -- not the stage adaptation by Clemence Dane -- and thus stayed under the radar. The theatrical producers didn't control movie rights to the story. Then she got Will Hays to approve an adaptation of that short story, keeping the wool over his eyes a bit and using all of her feminine charm. Hays was a Swanson fan (most men, I gather, were) and the lady got her way and put it over on Mayer, Laemmle, Zukor, et al. She did make some concessions, however, the most important one being that Lionel Barrymore not play a clergyman. If you notice, he's not called Reverend Davidson here, but Mister Davidson. It hardly matters, since nobody who saw the film ever thought of him as anything but a minister. Swanson's instincts were right on target in every department. She had hired Walsh to direct and suddenly realized he should be her leading man, and he's stupendous. They had a delightful, easy rapport, and although Walsh has sex appeal he's no movie Adonis, keeping it real. Swanson also dared to wear becoming but flashy and inelegant clothes, which was risky for the movies' most notable clotheshorse (the last time she had dressed dowdy, while under contract, the audiences stayed away, and the studio never let her do it again). Swanson's Sadie is able to live her life with good cheer because she genuinely likes men. This was certainly true of Swanson, whose father was out of the picture early, and who was always looking for a strong man. She was extremely curious, and always gravitated to the people at parties who knew the most -- usually the guys. Gloria Swanson as Sadie is kinetic. Her gaiety and charm are so incandescent that the biggest sin as you are watching the movie would have to be anything that dimmed her light. Davidson makes it go out, and that's exactly what happens to Swanson. When she "reforms," all the light goes right out of her. Barrymore is great, and we are so fortunate to have the movie in any form. It's probably Swanson's best performance outside of "Sunset Boulevard," and it's a great movie performance by any standard. Which brings to mind another point. No actress in Swanson's lifetime up to that point had ever given a more celebrated performance than Jeanne Eagels in "Rain," and Gloria dared to risk comparisons that would inevitably be made. We can't make those comparisons now, but you can't watch the movie and not feel that this lady, so made for the camera, so perfectly in control of all the tools of silent movie acting, gave Jeanne a run for her money.

(Despite another comment here, Swanson's liaison with Joseph Kennedy did not give her "the clout to become her own producer." At the time Swanson went to UA, she hadn't even met Joe Kennedy, and she didn't meet him until after she had already produced "Sadie Thompson." Kennedy was a very minor player in the movies, and Swanson was one of the biggest stars in the world. If anything, she gave HIM clout. Indeed, when he did become her partner in Gloria Productions, he seems to have robbed her blind, even billing her production company for his own gifts to her. Kennedy, staunchly Catholic if hypocritical, strongly disapproved of "Sadie Thompson.")


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