1932 / 92:00 / B/W / Drama/ Psychological
Director: Lewis Milestone
Starring: Joan Crawford, Walter Huston, William Gargan, Guy Kibbee
A group of passengers is stranded in Pago Pago during an epidemic, including a young sloe-eyed Joan Crawford as the South Seas prostitute Sadie Thompson, and Walter Huston, a fire and brimstone missionary who lusts after her. The Samoa-bound group are housed in a rather comfortless tropical trading post, owned and run by Joe Horn (marvelously characterized by Guy Kibbee). The confinement and close quarters begin to tear at people's nerves, and the incessant rain and heat accent the mood of underlying tension. Sadie, with an arm full of bangles and a sway in her walk, makes quite a splash with the local soldiery. One in particular, Sergeant O'Hara, falls quite in love with her and eventually wants to marry her, despite her apparent occupation. At the same time, Reverend Davidson is working on Sadie for her salvation, preaching with such invective on God's behalf, that at last Sadie repents of her past. Alas, the Reverend's suppressed desires for Ms. Thompson give way - he attacks her and then, unable to live with his actions and desires, commits suicide. When at last the quantine is lifted and the rain relents, it is a more jaded Sadie who sails away from the island. The film was shot on location on Catalina Island and the photography is splendid. Powerfully directed by Lewis Milestone, who has a way of stretching the camera to his wishes. Beulah Bondi makes the most of her roles as the Reverend Davidson's wife, as does Walter Catlett as Quartermaster Bates. Based on a story by Somerset Maugham and adapted to the screen by Maxwell Anderson.
"Joan Crawford's performance is sensitive, raucous, bawdy, and yet when embracing Huston's fever-pitched religion, genuinely touching." The Motion Picture Guide
Download in PDF format