Maxwell Anderson's screenplay of the W. Somerset Maugham story. Joan Crawford. Walter Huston, William Gargan.
The pleasures of the flesh confront the discipline of the Lord's teachings in this screen adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's story Miss Sadie Thompson. Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford) is a sassy streetwalker who lands in Pago Pago in the South Pacific after an epidemic grounds the ship on which she's booked passage. Sadie's shapely legs, free spirit, and quick wit soon attract the attention of a group of American soldiers stationed on the island; while most are motivated by simple lust, the naive Sgt. O'Hara (William Gargan) falls head over heels for Sadie, thoroughly unaware of her checkered past and shameful profession. Rev. Alfred Davidson (Walter Huston), a fire-and-brimstone preacher bent on bringing salvation to the soldiers, is fully aware of Sadie's occupation and moral code, and is determined to convince her to change her ways. Sadie slowly but surely is softened by Davidson's conviction, but the preacher soon finds himself affected by her sensual presence; O'Hara also learns the truth about Sadie, but hatches his own plan to reform her -- marriage. While a box office failure in 1932, Rain has gone on to become a cult favorite, thanks to Crawford's vivid performance as Sadie and director Lewis Milestone's adventurous visual style. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Maxwell Anderson arranged the adaptation from the dramatic work and Lewis Milestone was entrusted with the direction. Besides Miss Crawford, there are in the cast, among others, Walter Huston, Guy Kibbee, Beulah Bondi, Matt Moore and William Gargan.
The photography and the scenic effects are splendidly done. There is the impression of the incessant rain and also the sticky heat in the comfortless trading post run by Joe Horn. Moreover, in several respects the present film contains episodes that were dodged in its mute predecessor. But here, there is much that goes against the grain, either when matters are overemphasized or when the persons involved are too zealous to reveal their characteristics.