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4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Huston, Joan Crawford
  • Directors: Lewis Milestone
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Alpha Video
  • Release Date: Jan. 6 2004
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00011D1MC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,069 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Prostitute Sadie Thompson strikes-up a relationship with a moralistic reverend and various American military men in Pago Pago.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 2 2003
Format: DVD
Throughout her life Joan Crawford supposedly denounced "Rain" as one of her biggest career mistakes. Apparently a flop at the time of its release in 1932, this film has recently experienced something of a renaissance. Now, critical opinion has changed and many critics now conclude that Crawford sold herself short in panning the film and her performance in it.
Now on DVD, this film contains an interesting story with fine acting (admittedly the acting is a little stagey, but in 1932 that tended to be the style, as talkies were in their infancy and actors were still getting comfortable with how to project, emote, etc. for film).
What makes this film interesting is the controversial subject matter it dealt with. In many ways it tackled stuff that, once the Production Code went into full swing, would become verboten. These subjects include prostitution, criminality, religious fanaticism, hypocrisy, rape and suicide. And it deals with these controversial subjects in a sensitive and intelligent manner.
Briefly, a group of travelers are stranded on the tropical island of Pago Pago. One of these is Crawford. She plays Sadie Thompson, a prostitute on the run from the law in the United States. She was framed for a crime she didn't commit and has fled the US rather than face three years in prison.
Also in the group of travelers is a missionary and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Davidson (played by Walter Houston and Beulah Bondi, respectively). While it is never clear exactly what church they represent, it is clear that what they do represent is self-righteous intolerance for anyone or anything that isn't exactly the way the Davidsons think they should be. They object to Sadie and everything she stands for - to them she is a "wanton woman" in need of redemption.
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Format: DVD
Supposedly, "Rain", from Somerset Maughams' story, was a flop on its' release in 1932. Maybe the subject matter was too far over the heads of Depression era audiences. "Rain" is fine today as a vintage relic of adult filmmaking. It concerns a group of missionaries who land on the tropical isle of Pago Pago during rainy season to save the souls of the "sinful" natives who are otherwise living in blissful harmony. Unfortunately, a group of Marines gets stranded there as well and among them is the colorful Sadie Thompson (Crawford), a woman of easy virtue and proud of it. The Marines love her and she parties hardy with them much to the shock and chagrin of the missionaries--- particularly the Reverends' self righteous wife (Beulah Bondi). She complains loudly and the Reverend determines to cast out the "evil" from Sadies' soul even though Sadie is just fine with it the way it is. Their confrontations eventually lead to a near exorcism of Sadie and she succumbs to the Reverends' power. But the rain doesn't let up and the jungle drums keep pounding in the night. The Reverend succumbs to a power of a different kind---that of the unleashing of long pent up sexual frustration and he rapes Sadie thus sealing his own fate as the real "lost soul". Walter Huston is stagily effective as the pompous Reverend and Crawford is nothing short of magnetic as Sadie. A definite curio from the pre-code 30's and an interesting look at a young Joan Crawford. My DVD from Image looks and sounds fine so for me this was a plus.
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Format: VHS Tape
A woman escapes three years in a penitentiary in San Francisco by fleeing to Honolulu where she leads an easy and light life with the sailors that come along. Up to the moment when a preacher of some note arrives and starts persecuting her because her music and her life annoys his wife and himself. So he has her expelled back to San Francisco and preaches her into accepting her punishment, even if it is undeserved, the result of some injustice. This goes on right to the very day before the departure of the boat to San Francisco. On the night before, the preacher, for some unexplained reason, commits suicide. It is not always easy to be the signpost of everyone at the same time as their judge and executioner. This then changes everything and the woman is able to escape to Sidney, Australia, with one of the sailors. She is saved from a punishment that is understood as being unfair. The rain has been dominating the whole film till the very last morning when the sun finally rises over the clouds for the salvation and the escape of the woman. Joan Crawford does a pretty job at impersonating this woman.
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Format: VHS Tape
There must have been a popular play adaptation of this story that inspired the filming. The direction is purely point-and-shoot, with only a few shots of rain falling on different areas of the island to break the monotony.
Also, the actors are projecting their voices far too much. I understand that in 1932 sound was in its infancy, but I have seen other films of the period where there was natural-sounding dialogue.
The placement of the characters appears to have been gathered from the stage version, as well. No one's back ever is to the camera, and people walk while talking and not at other times.
The acting, however, given the other situations, is exemplary. Joan Crawford is good (though not great) as Sadie, however Walter Huston appears to be playing a one-note zealot, at least until the one scene when he falls prey to his baser instincts. He uses dramatic facial expression to show this change, but unfortunately, it only looked to me as if he were about to turn into Mr. Hyde.
The other characters are really just spouting dialogue and we aren't told much about them, other than the proprietor of the General Store where the action takes place, Joe Horn. He is the most interesting character in the film.
It was very slow going (I was not previously familiar with the storyline), but after the first half hour, I began to follow and was entertained.
I think that it is at the very least a good look at cinema history: to see early Joan Crawford work from when she was a sex symbol, and to catch Walter Huston before son John directed him to an Oscar in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Although in order to appreciate director Lewis Milestone's true ability, see All Quiet on the Western Front, The Front Page, or the Lon Chaney, Jr./Burgess Meredith version of Of Mice and Men.
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