A group of steamer passengers are forced into
quarantine on Pago Pago in the Samoas. There they suffer a number of
physical discomforts and are disconcerted by the never-ceasing rain.
Among them is a prostitute, Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford). She is
soon sought after by the members of the American military establishment
stationed on the island, and with good-natured aplomb, she tries to be
But Sadie runs afoul of the fanatical
missionaries Mr. and Mrs. Davidson (Walter Huston and Beulah Bondi), who
pressure her to change her way of life. Reverend Davidson is
especially adamant in his resolve to "reform and purify" Sadie, and her
initially wry patience and good-natured attitude soon gives way to
impatience and annoyance.
Sadie is wooed by Sergeant O'Hara (William Gargan), who would also like to see her turn over a new leaf―but for
different reasons. He is in love with her. Sadie cares for
Meanwhile, she has to content with the
demanding, powerful personality of Davidson, who finally succeeds in getting
Sadie to repent and turn religious after she is threatened with deportation
if she does not do otherwise. The hitherto cynical Sadie is also
temporarily beguiled into feeling that Davidson's ideals are sincere.
But her cynicism about life and people returns in full force when Davidson,
giving in to his animal appetites, physically attacks her. He then
commits suicide. The assumption at the end is that Sadie, though
rendered more worldly wise than ever, has softened to the point where she
can accept O'Hara's love.
What was said about
Motion Picture Herald
Because the producers have made such a strong attempt to establish the stern
impressiveness of the story, it is rather slow. In its drive to become
powerful, it appears to have lost the spark of spontaneity...Joan Crawford and
Walter Huston are satisfactory.
Joan Crawford as Sadie Thompson and
Walter Huston as the stern reformer do
interesting work in an adult story that never seems to grow out of date.
Variety (Abel Green)
It turns out to be a mistake to have assigned the Sadie Thompson role to Miss
Crawford. It shows her off unfavorably. The dramatic significance of
it all is beyond her range. As for Milestone's shortcomings as an
entrepreneur, apart from this being a trade surprise, the outcome is equally to
be laid at his doorstep. Milestone tried to achieve action with the
camera, but wears the witnesses down with words.
Joan Crawford's get-up as
the light lady is extremely bizarre. Pavement pounders don't quite trick
themselves up as fantastically as all that. In commercial favor of Rain
is the general repute of the theme and Miss Crawford's personal following, but
the finished product will not help either.