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So lurid it was banned for decades
jjnxn-113 October 2013
Provocative and racy this hard to find film is loaded with infamy. If you started watching not knowing it was a pre-code it would only take a few minutes to realized it. Full of a wantonness and sense of depravity that wouldn't be seen in movies for decades after, this sin-fest features rape, murder and many other shocking events with a frank candor. Even the advertising for the film was lurid, just look at the poster to get an idea of how the film was sold. Many of the cast are rather ham handed in their portrayals, William Gargan in particular, but Miriam Hopkins lights up the screen with a vibrant sensuality and a compelling presence. A truly talented actress it's a shame that behind the scenes she was such a difficult and brazen up-stager that it irrevocably damaged her career and shortened her star period.
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A great precode classic that even TCM doesn't show
sideways85 September 2006
This is probably the most daring precode picture made. Miriam Hopkins starred and I can't think of anyone else who would have been just as good. Even Harlow wouldn't have worked. She never played such an amoral C.T. as Temple. Jack LaRue was absolutely perfect as Trigger. Such a face. Extraordinarily good looking and yet resolutely menacing. I'll never understand why he never was used as a romantic lead in any of his movies that I know. Read the other reviews for plot details. They are precise. I purchased my copy privately on DVD. I've always wanted to see it. It was worth it. The settings and lighting were extremely good for the story and time in cinema history. Hooray for the director and all of the technicians,
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Interesting adaptation of Faulkner story with strong legal subplot
Michael-1106 January 2000
Temple Drake is a well brought up Southern woman who has a strong wild and crazy streak. She refuses marriage proposals from Steven Benbow, a dedicated and ethical young lawyer, because she knows she isn't ready to settle down. She is, in fact, a notorious sexual tease. Soon she's being held by a group of bootleggers and is raped by a hood named Trigger. Temple's wild streak takes over and she decides to stay with Trigger, perhaps working as a prostitute. Pretty heady stuff for the 1930's!

I particularly liked the character of Benbow who willingly takes all of the pro bono criminal cases assigned to him by the judge (Temple's haughty father) and handles even the hopeless ones with great dedication. In the courtroom scene that ends this film, Benbow's skill and ethics are put to the test.

There is an extensive discussion and analysis of "Temple Drake" in Thomas Doherty, "Pre-Code Hollywood" (1999) at 114-17. The story of the film's struggle with the censors (both in Hollywood and in the states) is told in Thomas Vieira, "Sin in Soft Focus" (1999) 149-50; stills from the film appear at 158-59.
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Strong stuff
preppy-37 June 2001
I saw this many years ago at a film festival and have never forgotten it. Even though they toned down the source material (William Faulkner's "Sanctuary") considerably, this is strong stuff for 1933. The acting is good, it's well-directed and has an ending that censors of the 30s hated (I won't give it away, but you can see why). One question--why isn't this available? It's never been on TV and never even got a video release. A real shame--this is one great movie. If you get a chance, see it.
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atmospheric condensation of Faulkner novel
mukava99119 October 2010
It's odd that this pre-Code morality tale was withdrawn by Paramount shortly after release, considering that despite its salacious content it pointed out that the girl at the center was capable of noble redemption. However that may be, "The Story of Temple Drake" works well on its own terms as a story about a flirtatious Southern belle (Miriam Hopkins in one of her best performances) whose behavioral excesses get her into a mighty mess with a band of bootleggers, including a character named Trigger (Jack LaRue in a role George Raft refused) and an embittered harridan interestingly played by Florence Eldridge (real life wife of Fredric March). Both actors benefit from Karl Struss's evocative photography.

Director Stephen Roberts and screenwriter Oliver H.P. Garrett do their early 30's best to cinematize a complicated novel (by William Faulkner) by crunching long passages of text into visually suggestive nuggets. The trouble with the gang of ne'er-do-wells is that none of them have even a twinge of a southern twang except James Eagles as the dimwitted Tommy. Besides him, the only key actor with even a slight southern accent in the whole film is Hopkins. William Gargan contrasts perfectly with the criminals as the clean-cut lawyer who loves and defends Hopkins despite her dark side. The drama builds to a breathless, memorable conclusion, concisely shot and directed for maximum effect.
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Amazing pre-Code film but only if you can see a great print of it and I did… (part 2 of 2)
larry41onEbay29 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Continued… Amazing pre-Code film but only if you can see a great print of it and I did… (part 2 of 2) PLOT: Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins) is known about town as a fast and loose party girl, but all the men in town know she's really all talk and no action. She's got a suitor in lawyer Stephen Benbow (William Gargan), who has repeatedly asked Temple to marry him, but she doesn't want to give up her hard partying lifestyle. She's also the granddaughter of the town judge, which gets her out of a lot of trouble. It also helps that her grandfather remains completely oblivious to her wild lifestyle.

As seen in the wonderful documentary on pre-Code, COMPLICATED WOMEN her court room testimony is the high point of the film and Hopkins is fragile and brilliant. I think Miriam Hopkins not being nominated for this film is the real controversy.

The Story of Temple Drake is one of the best examples of the provocative nature of pre-code films. This picture exhibits several traits that distinguishes it from movies made following the strict enforcement of the Hays code. Drinking to excess, pervasive promiscuity, misogynistic violence, and enough skin to shock a depression-era film-goer. Makes me wonder if the lost CONVENTION CITY if found today might be more tame or would it too be rated PG-13 if released today? It was remade (some say poorly) in 1961 starring Lee Remick as Temple and Yves Montand as the gangster. If they tried to re-make this today, I'm sure it'd still create a huge stir.

The director, Stephen Roberts, graduated to features after cranking out two-reel silent comedies in the 1920s to THIN MAN-like mysteries like STAR OF MIDNIGHT & THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD. (voters on IMDb rate TEMPLE his best film.) And the director of photography was the gifted Karl Struss (SUNRISE), who gave the shots in the mansion some Caligari-like dimensions.

The style of the film is very Southern Gothic, too; shades of Expressionism with a languorous underbelly of sweat and grime. The lighting and art direction clearly signal the change between Temple's safe and knowable world and the world she enters with the car crash, but it's not merely a contrast of good and evil. There are degrees of good among the bootleggers, just as there are men among her society friends who wouldn't be much better than the bootleggers if given half a chance. Also, the implied comparison between Temple and Ruby is striking – Ruby is both the woman Temple may become (in social position), and a woman who is utterly dedicated to one man, which Temple is not and by society's standards should be.

Another joltingly energized facet of the production was the appearance of stage actress (and wife of Fredric March) Florence Eldridge, who was given the best line: when Temple is in the mansion's kitchen, she sees a baby in the wood box by the stove. Asking why the baby is in there, Eldridge let's drop a shocker… Mordant Hall of The New York Times said, "… Considering the changes that were to be expected in bringing this novel to the screen, the producers have wrought a highly intelligent production. It is grim and sordid, but at the same time a picture which is enormously helped by its definite dramatic value. …Miss Hopkins delivers a capital portrayal as Temple Drake (and paraphrasing) as does sinister-eyed Jack LaRue as Trigger there is splendid work from the rest of the cast." Time magazine said, "…Books as conspicuously concupiscent as William Faulkner's Sanctuary always challenge and worry Hollywood. The U. S. public will tolerate between book covers material which could never be exhibited in a theatre. Admirers of Sanctuary may therefore be disappointed in this transcription of it, but The Story of Temple. Drake—although amply punctuated by shots in which the screen goes black to conceal everything except Director Stephen Roberts' prudence—is more effective than might have been expected. It is a dingy and violent melodrama, more explicit: about macabre aspects of sex than any previous products of Hollywood. … In the part that George Raft refused because it would "offend his public," Jack La Rue — a heavy-lidded young Italian who went to Hollywood to play in Scarface and lost the part to Raft — is effectively sinister. Miriam Hopkins gives a brilliant performance as Temple Drake." William Gargan is fine as the lawyer/boyfriend; Sir Guy Standing is distinguished as the grandfather/retired judge and Irving Pichel is grimy as the farmer/bootlegger. The writer of the screenplay Oliver H.P. Garrett would the next year share an Oscar with Joseph L. Mankiewicz for best screenplay for MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (1934).

Many fans of novelist William Faulkner state THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE, the first film version of SANCUARY, as probably the best film version made from a Faulkner novel. As a screenwriter he worked as script doctor on two classic films THE BIG SLEEP and TO HAVE AN HAVE NOT (the second is the only film to make use of two Nobel Prize winning authors.) But the bottom line, after all the controversy is the reason to see it. It's a good film!
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Powerful, Steamy, Underrated Pre-Code Faulknerian Drama!
antonio-218 June 2001
Just caught this gem last night at the Film Forum during their incredible Pre-Code Women festival!

Top acting honors to Miriam Hopkins, Jack La Rue et al. It is truly amazing how some of the pre-code dramas and comedies (sadly most of them missing from video, much less dvd!) hold up so incredibly well.

While I admire the ingenuity and class that some of the later 30's and 40's movies had in dealing with the Code restrictions, early dramas like The Story of Temple Drake demonstrate the same artistry in handling a sexually frank storyline.

Little Faulkner is left in this, but the mood and atmosphere of this film is superb!
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Amazing Pre-Code film but only if you can see a great print of it and I did… part 1 of 2
Larry41OnEbay-215 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Good god, I can't publish this. We'd both be in jail." Wrote William Faulkner's publisher in 1929 after reading an early version of his fifth novel, Sanctuary.

The Hays Office forbade any reference to the novel in advertising for the film. (In the opening credits of The Story of Temple Drake it only says, "From a novel by William Faulkner.")

The challenge then was how to present it in an engaging if not entertaining movie without gutting the inherit drama of the story. By blending what they could show with what the audience was left to imagine it becomes a near horror film.

Joseph Breen, would say it was "the vilest books, but that the film was tame in comparison to the novel."

This steamy melodrama triggered church boycotts and stricter enforcement of the Hays production code. After only a few screenings, the film was quickly shelved by the Production Code Administration, never to be seen again…until now.

A few collectors' 16mm prints have surfaced over the years, but a 35mm print hasn't been seen since the 1930s. So why did it take until now? The Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA) was approached by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to work on a collaboration. This long sought-after title came up, and fortunately the MoMA holds the original elements and in excellent condition! This print of Temple Drake that we are screening is only a single generation away from the original camera negative, making this a true rediscovery that is not to be missed!

The pivotal role of Temple Drake was entrusted to Miriam Hopkins, best known for Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise & Design for Living. But Hopkins seizes the opportunity to extend herself as a performer, arguably her finest performance. The role itself is much more complex than many of the parts offered to women in studio films today.

George Raft was suspended by Paramount for his refusal to appear as "Trigger" in this film. Paramount head Adolph Zukor's reasoning that Raft turned down the part not because he objected to the material, but because he wanted more money.

I first read about it in books on films of the 1930s, later I heard about it in documentaries on Pre-Code Hollywood. When I finally saw this forbidden film it was no gem. Like many of you I first saw Temple on VHS made from a worn 16mm collectors print years ago. It ranked as one of the worst transfers I had ever seen, almost unwatchable. But there was something there, to the story and the characters that drew me into the fuzzy darkness on the screen. The raising of ideas, situations and life mysteries that I found fascinating. Kind of like Dr. Jekyll wanting to know more about Hyde (another great Pre-Code Miriam Hopkins film.) But this screening is of the MoMA "To Save and Project" film preservation program and is a recently printed 35mm print made from the original negative that played to rave reviews at last years TCM Film Festival.

One of the most daring Pre-Code films ever produced, this audacious film has been credited with being a catalyst for the creation of the Roman Catholic Church's National Legion of Decency. It was banned in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and Joe Breen ordered the film to never be re-released again once the Production Code came into effect in June of 1934.

For many classic film fans, 1933's "The Story of Temple Drake" has long been something of a holy grail. Based on William Faulkner's novel, "Sanctuary", the story of a young Southern débutante with a wild side created a huge scandal upon its original release. The film was quickly pulled from release and went largely unseen for decades. Until now. Showing in a new 35mm print struck from the original camera negative!

Georgia native Miriam Hopkins portrayed Temple Drake, (she made this film between Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933)) The gangster is played by pop-eyed Jack LaRue in another of his great Pre-Code sleaze-bag performances.

(This is only part 1 of 2, Continued…)
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The notorious pre-code drama still packs a punch
marc-11225 August 1999
The notorious and rarely-seen (it's not even listed in Maltin's book)1933 adaption of William Faulkner's "Sanctuary" was unveiled to NY audiences last week at the Film Forum. The film is beautifully shot, and has an amazing performance by Miriam Hopkins as the southern belle who gets kidnapped and raped by a gangster, but stays with him by choice. At the conclusion, there was a richly-deserved round of applause. The rights are owned by Universal Home Video now--start writing them to get this lost masterpiece onto the video shelves.
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Miriam Hopkins is Superb
drednm15 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Miriam Hopkins stars as flirtatious tease from the good Southern family who goes joyriding with drunken boy and gets trapped in a den of thieves in the middle of nowhere. She witnesses a murder, gets raped, and is taken away by the vicious killer (Jack LaRue) to a whorehouse. She is so shellshocked by the events that she stays with him until a lawyer (and former boyfriend) sees her there. His visit shakes her back to reality and she tries to leave. LaRue stops her and starts to beat her but she shoots him and escapes. Later the lawyer (William Gargan) calls her to the witness stand when an innocent man is charged with the killing she witnessed. She tells her story and collapses. The End.

Based on William Faulkner's "Sanctuary," this pre-Code film skirts several issues but is amazingly frank and powerful in its storytelling. Lurid. Moody. Noirish. This film, which has only recently re-surfaced after 60 years boasts brilliant performances by Miriam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack LaRue, and Florence Eldridge. Co-starring Elizabeth Patterson, Irving Pichel, Guy Standing, Louise Beavers, Jobyna Howland, Frank Darien, and William Collier, Jr. as the drunken boy.

Terrific sets and use of close-ups. The finale is superb as Gargan faces off against defiant Hopkins.
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This movie makes *Delivrance* look wholesome
richard-17873 March 2016
Even for a pre-Code movie, this is pretty tough stuff. Granted, it doesn't get into the most sordid aspects of Faulkner's novel - a pot-boiler that he wrote when his serious works failed to earn him any money - but it's still very somber: a Southern society girl out on a binge with a drunken playboy gets raped by a gangster, set up in a Memphis brothel, and then finally kills the gangster. (In the novel, the gangster, originally named Popeye, is impotent, and so likes to watch others do what he cannot do.) You can certainly understand why the League of Decency went after this. And, frankly, I'm not sure I see what the point of making this movie was. I don't know who would enjoy it.

Which is not to say that it's a poorly made movie. Quite to the contrary.

Miriam Hopkins, whom I know from a string of fluffy mildly suggestive Ernst Lubitsch-type comedies - The Smiling Lieutenant, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living - gives a very impressive performance here as a Zelda Fitzgerald type who ends up being terrified out of her wits when she encounters a world of people very different from her native high-society circles. I have a lot more respect for her as an actress after seeing this.

The direction here, by Stephen Roberts, is also quite good at times, with very effective cinematography in the scenes set at the gangsters' hideout.

I can imagine that this movie would be very unpleasant viewing for a lot of women. It tells a gruesome story, and does nothing to keep it light. It's certainly worth seeing for Hopkins' performance, but it won't put you in a good mood.
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Notorious yet riveting.
MartinHafer6 January 2016
"The Story of Temple Drake" is an infamous Pre-Code film that was withdrawn from circulation for two decades because the content of the movie was considered inappropriate after the new Production Code was put into effect in mid-1934. The tale about rape and murder was simply impossible to show based on the dictates of the new system. However, the film was later rediscovered and is considered by some one of the most daring films of the era.

When the film begins, Stephen Benbow (William Gargan) is in love with Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins) and has asked her to marry him. But while she cares about him, she's also a flirtatious lady and doesn't want to yet settle down. Unfortunately her lifestyle gets her into trouble one night when she and one of her many boyfriends have an accident and they are stranded in the middle of no where. They come upon a house run by a bunch of very stereotypical white trash and eventually one of them, a thug named Trigger (Jack La Rue) rapes her and then hold her hostage as a love slave for some time thereafter. Eventually, Temple is able to break free of this monster...and walks into the middle of a court case being defended by Benbow...and if she talks about her trials, she could help get Benbow's client acquitted. But this also means talking about her ordeal in front of folks....during an era where no one would dare talk about this.

Fortunately, while the content is rather racy, the rape was NEVER shown and was handled tastefully. And, surprisingly, the topic of rape was treated rather fairly considering this was an era when women were often blamed for the assault. An important and groundbreaking film that actually stands up pretty well today...and features some powerful acting by Hopkins and Gargan.
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Most believable portrayal of PTSD
calvinnme9 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The background of the story is that Temple Drake(Miriam Hopkins) is the wild somewhat spoiled granddaughter of a well-respected Judge in a rural community. She rather enjoys staying out late, bringing her dates to the brink sexually, and then leaving them cold. Temple has an earnest proposal of marriage from local defense attorney Stephen Benbow (William Gargan). However, Temple turns him down because she likes him too much and loves him too little. At a party one night, wanting to get away from Stephen and his earnest intentions, she grabs one of her less serious beaus and they go off in search of a drink. They find the backwoods joint they seek, but it is hardly a society haunt. Their car crashes just before they get there, and this particular night the place is full of bootleggers getting ready to make a shipment, and one real bad character in particular, the aptly named "Trigger" (Jack LaRue).

The art direction, cinematography, underscoring (rare for a film of this era), and atmosphere in general allow the tension to build and let you know that violence is ahead for this young woman. The question is when and by whom. The answer is in the barn the next morning by Trigger. When a simple-minded boy that has been left outside the barn to keep watch over her makes a comment that Trigger should leave her alone Trigger shoots him dead. Afterwards, Trigger hauls Temple back to the city with him like she is some kind of wild kitten he has found and claimed for himself. She stays there with him, in a shabby little room, scantily dressed, and at his disposal as his personal plaything. Another shock, months after the rape, finally brings Temple back into the real world and causes her to deobjectify herself.

The cast is just perfect in this one. Miriam Hopkins was always wonderful at morally ambiguous roles, and here she runs the gamut from tease to terrified to catatonic in a performance that is electrifying. Irving Prechel once again plays a type of deviant. No wonder he switched to directing after all of the weird roles he was given by Paramount. As for Jack La Rue, he is perfect as the completely immoral predator who thinks everyone and everything exists in this world just to give him a laugh. It's a wonder he didn't get better and bigger roles with performances such as this.

I've talked to people who have no compassion for Temple after watching this film. They can't figure out why she stays with Trigger after he rapes her when she has probably had plenty of chances to get away. It's obvious she's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and Stockholm Syndrome. The realistic portrayal of a person in such circumstances puts this film decades ahead of its time psychologically. Compare the way Temple acts after being raped by Trigger in this film and then go watch Lee Remmick's portrayal of a rape victim in 1959 in the excellent "Anatomy of a Murder". She talks to defense attorney James Stewart about the crime as calmly and coolly as one might describe how their car ran off the road and hit a traffic sign.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys precode film. There are good quality copies of this old film out there.
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I guess I'm one of the lucky few!
Jem Odewahn1 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
So I finally got to see this Pre-code film which has become part of movie lore for us classic fans. It's near impossible to find (but it's available now on *cough* the world's most popular video-sharing site), but it always rates a mention when discussing Pre-code Hollywood. This is one of the films that brought on the Hayes decision to censor movies--and you can see why. It's packed full of the things that make Pre-code great: sex, booze, violence and suggestive dialogue. Miriam Hopkins is perfectly cast as the Southern socialite of the title, who parties all night with all sorts of men (as her wise black maid says, her doting, oblivious rich grandfather really SHOULD look at her underwear!), but is really a pricktease. At least, she only does what she wants. Hopkins is convincing with her brittle Southern accent and her mannerisms. So when Temple gets kidnapped by a gangster after witnessing a murder, she's shocked. Jack LaRue is fantastic as the sinister yet somehow attractive Trigger. His performance is so good that it really belongs up there with Muni, Cagney, Robinson etc in those famous Warners gangster films. He rapes Hopkins, yet we wonder if she isn't staying with him by her own choice. Eventually an old lawyer flame of Temple's finds her co-habiting with LaRue, which sets off a string of events that lead to Temple being put on trial. I felt perhaps the last 20 minutes or so took some of the heat off the film (I don't really like courtroom drama), and the guy playing the ex-boyfriend is boring as heck, but Hopkins is very, very good on the stand. The sleazy, seedy atmosphere of this film is maintained well throughout (it fairly reeks of sex). Definitely worth seeing.
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Good pre-code salacious movie
SnoopyStyle13 September 2014
Stephen Benbow (William Gargan) is an idealistic defense lawyer who is in love with Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins). She is a southern belle wild child and a tease. Her granddad Judge wants her to go with Stephen but she can't seem to marry the straight laced Stephen. She leaves a party with the drunken Toddy who crashes the car. They're taken by bootleggers. Soon she's in fear of the lowlife criminals and the drunken Toddy is useless. She is raped by the well dressed killer Trigger (Jack La Rue). He kidnaps her as his kept woman. Stephen investigates Trigger for a murder and finds Temple. She pretends to be Trigger's woman to send Stephen off.

The controversial salacious content is pre-code. There is some violence and a lot of suggested sexuality. It's actually effective as a noir style movie. The surprising thing is that it's still very watchable. The acting isn't always the best. William Gargan is a bit stiff. Miriam Hopkins is playing it very melodramatically as is usually the case of this era. It works in this melodrama. Jack La Rue is great as the quietly threatening villain.
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Pre-code depravity at it's best
NicML3 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Based loosely on Faulkner's novel Sanctuary(but watered down), this film is a Southern Gothic tale of a spoiled southern belle named Temple Drake(Miriam Hopkins)who is the town tease, and loves to get all the local boys hot & bothered, only to leave them cold. One night with one of her beaus, they are involved in a car accident that leaves them stranded at a house where there's bootlegging going on, with an assorted lot of bootleggers,getting drunk. The head of them,a gangster from the city named Trigger(Jack La Rue)sees Temple,wants her as his, and nothing will stop him. The morning after, with Temple having a restless night in the barn, being guarded by Tommy(James Eagles), the feeb.She is trapped like a rat by Trigger, who kills Tommy, and then rapes her. Trigger then hauls Temple off to the city, to Miss Reba's place, a brothel, and she becomes his sex slave. Temple is so shell shocked by the rape, she stays there with Trigger, until an old beau, Stephen (William Gargan)who is defending Lee Goodwin(Irving Pichel) in the death of Tommy, comes looking around for Trigger. Stephen can't believe his eyes that Temple has taken up with Trigger,and wants to bring her back home. Temple then acts the part of a fallen woman, when she sees Trigger getting ready to kill Stephen, saying that she wants to be with Trigger. After Stephen leaves, Temple decides it's the best time to get out of there, but Trigger starts to beat & assault her again, she then shots Trigger dead, and goes back home. Back home, Temple has to take the stand and clear Lee Goodwin in Tommy's death.

The whole cast is great, the best parts are the brothel scenes,which are so hot one could fry an egg on them. I really enjoyed the performance of Jack La Rue, who's Trigger is so hot & so sleazy, it's perfect. Also the fact that this film raises profane thoughts in one's head, that Temple may have enjoyed the rape(the very end of the film), makes this film one of the best of the pre-code era.
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Jack La Rue is Chilling!!!
kidboots12 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It was Faulkner's marriage in 1929 to a woman who bought two children from her first marriage that caused him to start thinking seriously about writing a book for financial profit which ended up being "Sanctuary". He said he then forgot about it but that didn't stop it becoming a sensation. It would be nice to think that Faulkner could have realised a nice profit but with his usual luck the publisher that he had given the book to, Harrison Smith, went bankrupt six months after "Sanctuary" was published and so he received almost no royalties. The only money he made from it was to come from Hollywood. By the time "Sanctuary" was ready to be filmed in 1933 the novel had been denounced as obscene and degrading. The Hays office became involved by informing Paramount that neither the film nor the credits were allowed to mention the title so Paramount compromised by calling it "The Story of Temple Drake", hoping the heroine's name would cause the public to remember the book's scandal.

George Raft, who had been scheduled to star pulled out. He had no intention of hurting his newly won box office allure by playing a sadistic gangster who had no sympathetic qualities. He had already played a pretty despicable gangster with both Miriam Hopkins and Mae Clarke so there was method in his rejection. Probably the only role rejection that actually helped his career. Jack La Rue was given the assignment and it certainly didn't catapult him to stardom. He played Trigger (in the book it was Popeye) a city punk living in the Mississippi hill country.

Temple Drake (Hopkins), Southern belle and grand daughter of prominent judge, has rejected Stephen Benbow's marriage proposal as she finds him too serious and unromantic. She craves excitement and unfortunately finds it. Exiting a stuffy party with inebriated Toddy (William Collier Jnr.) she is plunged into a nightmare world when their car overturns and they seek shelter at an abandoned mansion with a group of misfits. There's a baby in a wood box- "so the rats don't get it", a cretinous teenager, Tommy, a worn down woman (Florence Eldridge, Frederic March's wife) and a couple of men who wouldn't be out of place in "Deliverance". The rape scene between Temple and Trigger, a sadistic city gangster, is very powerful. The film drips with sexuality and decadence and the artfully lit soft focus photography of Karl Struss went far to diffuse the story's more shocking implications.

Trigger kills Tommy who has appointed himself Temple's guardian and is determined to see no harm comes to her. Trigger takes a shell shocked Temple into the city to establish her in a brothel. Goodwin (the wonderful character actor Irving Pichel) one of the men from the house, goes to the police to report Tommy's murder and suddenly finds himself charged. Of course Benbow is assigned to the case and it is up to him to find Temple and convince her to testify and with it destroy her character!!!! Temple Drake was a challenging role and Miriam Hopkins, in one of her best screen performances, gives it everything she has. Her scene in the old house where she suddenly realises this is real and there is no escape, she starts to really cry and makes you believe in her. Jack La Rue is simply chilling as Trigger, a thug with no redeeming qualities. It is a pity it didn't lead to bigger and better parts but he could always be proud of his performance in "The Story of Temple Drake".
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Pre-Code Sensation
GManfred16 September 2011
I have not read "Sanctuary" but "The Story of Temple Drake" is a nasty story populated by some nasty people bracketed by some good people. Somewhere in the middle is Temple Drake, a southern tease who is asking for trouble, and finds it. This must be Miriam Hopkins' best performance as she goes from debutante to fallen woman before regaining her equilibrium and self-respect. Her final few scenes are outstanding and might have earned her an Oscar nomination in a later time period and in a less controversial film.

Mention must be made of Jack LaRue, who plays Trigger, the villain of the piece. A repugnant figure, Trigger is the thoroughly rotten personification of evil and LaRue is terrific in the part. Like Miss Hopkins, this must be the high point of his long career which began in silents.

"The Story of Temple Drake" was shocking for its time and still packs a wallop today. Unlike today's fare, it leaves much off the screen to the imagination, which can be substantial depending on your frame of mind. It was one of the pictures chiefly responsible for the introduction of the Hays Code the following year.
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Hopkins Steals the Show in Dirty Little Pre-Code
Michael_Elliott22 September 2011
Story of Temple Drake, The (1933)

*** (out of 4)

Notorious pre-code tells the story of Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins), a Southern Belle who uses her beauty to turn men on only to quickly throw water on them. To Temple turning men on is just a joke but when a date takes her to a dangerous bar, she's quickly held hostage by a bootlegger named Trigger (Jack LaRue) who will stop at nothing to feed his lust. THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE was highly controversial when it was first released and in large part it was one of the main reasons that the Hayes Office would have to finally stand up and keep on eye out for the "products" being released by Hollywood. Seen today the film is certainly less shocking but there's no doubt that the subject matter is still rather touchy and especially the "wannabe" bad girl who finally gets broken down when sexually, physically and mentally abused by an evil man. I think the best thing going for the film is the performance by Hopkins who was clearly born to play this role. Even though the film runs a very short 70-minutes and a lot of the material from the William Faulkner novel has been left out, the character of Temple Drake still goes through quite a bit of developments. Hopkins nails all of them and I really loved the early scenes where she was just playing the men to get them worked up so that she could just dump them and then move onto the next. These scenes with the actress are perfectly done but she also handles the later moments when she's terrified of what's going to happen to her and then of course at the end when she's broken down. I was also impressed with LaRue who gets to shine even if the screenplay doesn't do too much justice to him. William Gargan plays the lawyer who also just happens to be in love with Drake and he too is pretty good. Flrence Eldridge really stands out in her role and those with a quick eye can spot John Carradine in the courtroom. The pre-code elements are somewhat strong with a rape and several sexual moments with Hopkins either stripping down or showing off her legs. The most notorious scene happens when she strips down to her bra and panties only to have one of the thugs rip off a coat that she's wearing and the viewer gets even more of a glimpse of her. At 70-minutes the film moves extremely fast and there's no question that film buffs will want to search this one out.
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Party Girl Lives To Regret It
smurky29 December 2013
Temple Drake is a flamboyant flirt who likes to lead men on, and then say " NO " ! She is the grand-daughter of a prominent judge, so this kind of behavior is scandalous, for the times. An attorney in her grandfather's court is in love with her, and she says she's been in love with him since childhood, but she loves the life of a Party Girl more.

One night she leaves a party with a drunk guy who drives too fast and crashes the car. They are found by Trigger, a lowlife bootlegger, which is the least of his crimes...he is also a rapist and murderer, as Temple will soon find out. She and the drunk driver are invited into a house, with a motley group of Trigger's cohorts. The Drunk Driver is happy to accept the invitation, as he wants another drink...but Temple insists she'll wait outside, as she senses trouble. Eventually, she is forced inside, as it starts to thunderstorm, as it does in all those creepy old Boris Karloff movies.

Temple is witness to repulsive deeds by this Trigger, including the murder of a young boy who was trying to help Temple. He arranges for an innocent man to go on trial for the murder, and the trial attorney is the one in love with Temple.

Temple is afraid to take the witness stand, because the scandal of her being involved with these criminals would be too hard on her Grandfather.....can the attorney who loves her convince her to take the stand, free an innocent man and get the true heinous criminal off the streets ?? Will she do it ? ! Buy the DVD and see !
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"Is it late, sho nuff?"
utgard142 September 2016
Gritty Pre-Coder, adapted from a much grittier William Faulkner novel, about a trampy Southern girl named Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins) who makes all the wrong choices, one of which leads to her being kidnapped and raped by a violent thug named Trigger (Jack La Rue). Tough stuff but fascinating to watch, as the best Pre-Code films are. Great performances from La Rue and Hopkins, as well as William Gargan as the idealistic lawyer who loves Temple. Nice direction from Stephen Roberts and beautiful cinematography from Karl Struss. Worth a look for any fans of Pre-Code films. Yes, it's watered down from the novel but it still pushes the envelope on what was allowed in movies at the time.
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"I got your number, and you know it."
classicsoncall25 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Miriam Hopkins portrays the conflicted Temple Drake in this tale of rape and murder that must have set film goers on their ear when it was initially released. Not only are there allusions to prostitution and illicit sex, but treatments of subjects that would be considered controversial even today in terms of political correctness. I refer to attorney Stephen Benbow (William Gargan) calling out 'Boy' to a black waiter at a party, and another scene that reverses the stereotype when a black man responds to Toddy Gowan (William Collier Jr.) coming out of his drunken stupor at the railroad station - "You askin' me, white man?"

This is why films of an earlier era genuinely fascinate me. Not to mention how thin a plot could often be in order to advance the story. Wouldn't anyone have noticed that when Benbow issued the subpoena, he stated to Trigger (Jack La Rue) and Temple Drake that he was presenting it to both of them. How would that subpoena have involved Temple since Benbow had no idea she would even be there, which was certainly more than evident when he expressed his shock and surprise to see her with him. Sometimes I wonder how a director or the principals in a scene would let something like that go by.

It wouldn't be unusual in the Thirties to see a story like this in one of those exploitation flicks dealing with the same type of subject matter. A few titles that come to mind would be "Gambling With Souls" (1936), "Slaves in Bondage" (1937) and "Mad Youth" (1940), all having to do in one way or another with the theme of prostitution. To see it here in a more or less mainstream film must have been quite a shock for it's time, perhaps even making it difficult for some movie goers to even concentrate on the story.

The finale does allow the title character a redemptive moment by having her summon the courage to testify against her evil captor, but at the same time the picture leaves a lot more questions for the viewer than it answers. How is it, for example, that no one ever made mention of the car crash that resulted in Toddy and Temple heading for the Godwin house in the first place? It's not like the aftermath of the accident would have disappeared once the story turned into a murder investigation.
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Broadcast on TCM as part of Pre-Code Classics and Faulkner film series
mr-jon-hope17 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Faulkner dismissed his novel Sanctuary as a "pot-boiler", although he liked the character of Temple Drake well enough to bring her back in a later novel (Requiem for a Nun). Both novels have greater complexity and moral ambiguity than the screenplay for The Story of Temple Drake could possibly capture in 70 minutes of film. The movie lacks Faulkner's depiction of how rich and poor don't have equal access to justice, but does portray how those who enjoy an elevated social standing aren't always more virtuous than those they look down upon. The elaborate film sets illustrate this when Temple crosses the divide between the elegant party scene and the bootleggers' foreboding farmhouse.

In the novel, the lawyer Benbow (whose first name is Horace) is less enamored of Temple and much more concerned with defending his client Lee Goodwin (and Goodwin's companion Ruby Lemarr) from prejudices both legal and social. In the film, Ruby briefly alludes to prostituting herself in order to get Lee out of prison.

SPOILER: The sudden ending of the film is the opposite of what happens in the book. Suffice it to say that in Sanctuary, Temple is untroubled by conscience and unswayed by Benbow. The bad guy gets away, and the good guy doesn't. It's my favorite of Faulkner's early novels.

Miriam Hopkins does well portraying the two sides of Temple Drake (with a stronger Southern accent than anyone else in the film). Florence Eldridge convincingly conveys her contempt for Temple. Jack La Rue shoots daggers with his depthless eyes, but the screenplay can't possibly capture the complexity of Trigger's character, known as Popeye in Faulkner's underrated novel.
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Karl Struss at his very best!
JohnHowardReid17 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Story of Temple Drake (1933) is available on a 6/10 DVD from a minor company and even this somewhat indifferent pressing of an MCA TV print does little to lessen the power and intensity of this engrossing film noir, astutely adapted from a William Faulkner novel by Oliver H.P, Garrett, vibrantly directed by Stephen Roberts, and atmospherically photographed in effectively noirish semi-darkness by the brilliant cinematographer, Karl Struss. Bernard Herzbrun's appropriately seedy sets are also a major plus. Miriam Hopkins not only models her Travis Banton costumes with style, but gives the most vigorous and skillful performance of her career. Hero William Gargan lacks charisma, but his role is fortunately not over-large and he is easily overshadowed by Jack La Rue in one of his most chillingly villainous portraits of evil.
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The Sex and the Fury
wes-connors20 September 2011
In the steamy South during Prohibition, sexy blonde Miriam Hopkins (as Temple Drake) likes to party but won't put out. The granddaughter of respected judge Guy Standing (as Sir Guy Standing), Ms. Hopkins declines marrying lawyer William Gargan (as Stephen "Steve" Benbow) because she wants to continue living the wild life. Admittedly, she has a wicked streak. Out with a drunken William Collier Jr. (as Toddy Gowan) one night, Hopkins is stranded with gangsters at an old plantation mansion being used as a speakeasy, after their car crashes. Mother of the house Florence Eldridge (as Ruby Lemarr) realizes one of the men will soon find his way into Hopkins and doesn't want it to be her man Irving Pichel (as Lee Goodwin). She arranges for Hopkins to be taken to the barn for safekeeping, guarded by slow-witted James Eagles (as Tommy)...

After her "lingerie scene" for theater viewers, Hopkins is raped by head bootlegger Jack La Rue (as "Trigger"). Mr. La Rue memorably plays almost his entire villainous part with a just-lighted cigarette in his mouth. This film's lighting and photography by Karl Struss is excellent, by the way. The story is based on the novel "Sanctuary" by William Faulkner. Therein, "Temple Drake" is known as an easy lay; but here, her bathroom wall advertisement is altered to "Temple Drake is just a fake. She wants to eat and have her cake." That she enjoyed her sexual encounters with her abductor is downplayed; in the book, those where accomplished with a corncob and other men, since the novel's character was physically unable to perform. Many viewers familiar with the book imagined those events simply took place off screen, and this film welcomed the thoughts.

******* The Story of Temple Drake (5/6/33) Stephen Roberts ~ Miriam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack La Rue, William Collier Jr.
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