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Joan Crawford

 

 

RAIN

 

United Artists, 1932.  Directed by Lewis Milestone.  Camera:  Oliver T. Marsh.  With Joan Crawford, Walter Huston, Fred Howard, Ben Hendricks, Jr., William Gargan, Mary Shaw, Guy Kibbee, Kendall Lee, Beulah Bondi, Matt Moore, Walter Catlett.

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 agreeable.

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 O'Hara, too.

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 Rain:

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.

Photoplay
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Sadie Thompson and Walter Huston as the stern reformer do interesting work in an adult story that never seems to grow out of date.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.

The Films of Joan Crawford
by Lawrence J. Quirk
The Citadel Press, 1968

 

Additional detailed information about this film is available from
the AFI Catalog of Feature Films at
AFI.com, or by clicking here.

 

Additional photo courtesy of Frances