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""Rain" is the story of Sadie Thompson (Joan) who is staying on the island of Pago Pago after she left her home in San Francisco. Sadie is sexy, provocative, outspoken, and very friendly with the male G. I.'s who are also on the island with her.
Sadie's ways really tick off Alfred Davidson (played by Walter Houston). Mr. Davidson is a judgmental, prudish missionary that will not rest until he gets Sadie deported. At first, Sadie has no intention of leaving and becomes incredibly indignant. Sadie says, "you take care of your evil, and I'll take care of mine..." -- words to live by.
But, when she realizes that her deportation would be imminent she becomes very freighted and pleads with Alfred Davidson to allow her to stay.
He doesn't relent, but Sadie changes her ways, nevertheless. She is no longer the flashy dresser or "plaything" for the men on the island and has accepted her deportation (and subsequent prison sentence in San Francisco.)
On the eve of her return there is a climactic outcome and Sadie hightails it to Sydney; back to her old tricks!
Joan Crawford was absolutely devastatingly beautiful in this picture, and her acting was firstrate. The fear in Sadie was so believable; and the anger that Sadie had towards the hypocrisy of the missionaries was purely evident. This is without a doubt Joan's best picture of the 30's.
Poor Joan was crucified for this film (and for many since) when it was first released in 1932. Joan even publicly apologized to her beloved fans (who meant the world to her), because for the first time in her career they turned their back on her! No one wanted to see Joan Crawford play a wanton women of loose morals. They didn't realize that Joan Crawford was born to play the part of Sadie Thompson.
This is one of my favorite Joan Crawford pictures, because her true acting abilities really shine. She also plays a very different character; since she was on loan from MGM she was no longer tied to the sweet love-triangles that they gave her during her heyday in the 30's. This film does remind me of another Joan classic, "Laughing Sinners."
A unique Joan Crawford portrayal
Mike Leone | Houston, TX, United States | 03/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I bought my first VCR back in the mid-1980s, the first commercial tape I purchased was a cheapie of "Rain." I knew nothing about the story line and not much more about Joan Crawford other than "Mildred Pierce" and how she had been portrayed in "Mommie Dearest." While the tape was only of medium quality (I would later buy both better and worse from the same company), it was good enough to enthrall me with the film."Rain" tells one of those timeless stories that still has a lot to say to audiences today: missionary succeeds in reforming sinful woman but then succumbs to her charms. It had already been filmed as a silent with Gloria Swanson and would later be made into a color film with songs starring Rita Hayworth. Jules Massenet's opera "Thais" has a very similar plot line.Joan Crawford made this film at a time when she was mainly playing ambitious shopgirls clawing their way to the top. "Rain," for which MGM loaned her out after her big success with "Grand Hotel," was a very different kettle of fish than her usual 1930s heroine and gives her a chance to really stretch herself.Made up more than Gloria Swanson or Rita Hayworth ever thought of being, Joan's performance is similarly over-the-top but fascinating. Our first view of her begins preparing us for her portrayal: the camera first shows, one at a time, her two jewelry-bedecked wrists, then her two high-heeled-shod feet, and then finally her face, cigarette dangling from her mouth, and we have no doubt as to the kind of woman we are looking at. And to hear her as she speaks her first word, "Boys," is to understand why she thought her voice had been dubbed in by a man the first time she heard herself in a talkie test.Sadie is vulnerable almost from her first appearance onscreen, asking for a room in the little hotel in Pago Pago because she has no money, and explaining, Flaemmchen-like, that she doesn't eat very much. And William Gargan as O'Hara, the innocent young sailor who is smitten with her from the first time he sees her, recognizes her sweet, gentle quality, calling her a "lady," much to the delight of his friends. And Joan's softer side responds to his innocent quality, as she chooses O'Hara (whom she calls "Handsome") over the other men.Walter Huston, the Reverend Mr. Davidson, is Sadie's nemesis. His role is a little more one-dimensional, but he plays the cold, unflinching and ultimately all-too-human preacher very convincingly. He does manage to garner at least some sympathy, both because of his suicide and especially as compared to his extremely self-righteous wife, played by Beulah Bondi (when I first saw Beulah Bondi's sympathetic portrayal of James Stewart's mother in "It's a Wonderful Life," I had a difficult time believing such polar opposites could be played by the same actress).The turning point in the film is Sadie's conversion from sinner to penitent, and here it falls a little bit short. But this is a fault of the script itself rather than the actors: Sadie's actual conversion happens with very little motivation, so it is difficult to take seriously. But even if Joan is not up to the challenge of making Sadie's conversion believable (I don't know that anybody else would be, either), she more than compensates for it when she tells O'Hara how she doesn't know why she chosen to be saved, she only knows she was. This for me is the single most memorable moment of the film. And she is equally great when she says, after learning of Davidson's death, "now I can forgive him" (shades of Puccini's Tosca).Much has been made of director Lewis Milestone's camera tricks, but what I really love about his direction is how he introduces any number of interesting little contrasts and parallels. For example, while the Christians read the Bible, pray, and yet display no sympathy for the plight of others, Guy Kibbee, as the sympathetic proprietor of the hotel who has helped Sadie when she had no place to stay, reads writings by the atheist Nietzsche. And while our first view of Sadie is by way of her wrists and feet, our last view of Davidson is by way of his feet, washing up onshore after he has remorsefully cut his throat.The quality of this DVD reflects a marked improvement over the VHS tape I have owned for years, with strong contrasts in shading between light and dark. There is very little on the DVD in the way of extra features: separate listings of the cast and credits, and that's about it."Rain" remains to this day one of my favorite movies. And I give it five stars because of the story line, still relevant almost 70 years later, the wonderful portrayal by Crawford, ably assisted by a srong supporting cast, and the greatly improved technical quality of the film."
Fine Joan Crawford movie--with an outstanding performance by
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 04/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rain is an excellent Joan Crawford film that features fine acting by the cast; the cinematography and the choreography work well, too. This may have been a flop at the box office back in 1932; but I can see why this movie made it to DVD--it's actually quite a good film.
The action begins when passengers on a boat are unexpectedly stuck on Pago Pago in the South Pacific after an outbreak of cholera. And there couldn't be two more opposite people amongst those passengers--Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford), a loose woman, and a remarkably charismatic and somewhat nutty missionary named Alfred Davidson (Walter Huston). It isn't long before Sadie and the Marines on Pago Pago get friendly; and Alfred Davidson and his wife (Beulah Bondi) just can't stand it any longer. The Davidsons feel strongly that Sadie is a terrible sinner who must immediately repent for being loose, drinking liquor and dressing too "loudly."
Sadie resists Mr. Davidson's attempts to "reform" her; and the most of the others at the hotel where they're staying generally support Sadie to one degree or another. They do come to fear the political connections Davidson has; and when Davidson complains to the Governor of Pago Pago, Sadie just might be in a whole lot of hot water that even her Marine boyfriend can't help!
Joan Crawford is to be commended for a stunning performance as Sadie Thompson. The transformation of Sadie about one hour into the movie is astounding. Sadie is no longer a loose woman but instead she is now dressed very differently; she even completely agrees with the missionary Alfred Davidson that she must return to San Francisco to repent for her "sins."
Why does Sadie not really want to go back to San Francisco? Will Sadie's Marine boyfriend ever hold off Davidson, or will Davidson win the tug of war over Sadie's future? What makes Sadie change--and will it last? No plot spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie and find out!
The DVD has no extras; but the movie held my attention so well it almost doesn't need any extras. The rain that almost constantly pours down on Pago Pago enhances the drama of the story in a good way, too.
Overall, Joan Crawford fans will love this film. Rain is an excellent example of Joan giving an outstanding performance. Look for Walter Huston to give a stunning performance as the missionary Alfred Davidson; and Guy Kibbee fits in well as the owner of the hotel where the action takers place. "
No Mildred, but certainly no Trog, either...
Review Lover | At a place... | 01/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Rain' appeared at a point in Crawford's career where she'd have done anything, played anyone - even Wally Beerey's grandmother, or so the saying goes - for a good part. And along comes Sadie Thompson, Prostitute of the South Seas, the Original Good Time Had By All, and off Joan went, to revel in a meaty role made famous by contemporary theatrical actress Tallulah Bankhead.
Panned by an unimaginative set of critics, and reviled by a public used to seeing La Carwford as the Ingenue shopgirl in such fluff as 'Our Dancing Daughters' and 'West Point', it's really a testament to the fickleness of the moviegoing public that this, a movie of really sterling performances and interesting, almost experimental direction, could have been so overlooked.
Joan plays Sadie, a hooker on the run, who is forced into an island-wide quarantine after her connecting boat ride is infected with cholera. Among the other passengers so stuck is Rev. Davidson (Walter Huston), who, upon discovering Sadie's sluttish past, becomes hell-bent on 'saving' her soul.
Joan gives an honest and raw performance here, and does not try to glamorise or romanticise the heroine. Hers is a bitter and hard-edged Sadie, full of bile towards men and the establishment, yet tender and vulnerable when the role demands. Her range as an actress is showcased here in the excellent exchanges with Rev. Devine, and Walter Huston responds in kind with a terrific rendition of the sanctimonious, dictatorial Man of the Cloth.
Direction by Lewis Milestone is highly remarkable for the period, the stacatto rainfall and panoramic camera sweeps contrast beautifully with the enclosed, claustrophobic interiors of the General Store, and the poverty and primitive status of the isalnd community shines through, lending a feeling of wilderness to the piece.
All in all, this is an excellent picture, and one of Crawford's finest performances. It's no Mildred Pierce, but where that movie falls down in terms of unbelievable glamour, this one excels - the realism is relatively palpable.
Nice but a bit "watered down"
Scooter | Niagara Falls, NY USA | 07/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Rain" is a classic pre-censorship movie of the 30's. As usual with this type of film, one must do a fair amount of reading between the lines to get the full story. Joan Crawford gives a strong performance as Sadie Thompson, a trollop on the run from the law. Walter Huston as Alfred Davidson, a bible thumping, over the top preacher, is sufficiently scary. The rest of the cast puts in fine performances. The cinematography is also exceptionally elegant.The story is a bit watered down from it's Somerset Maugham original, and some extreme leaps of believability are needed on the part of the audience to accept the denouement. But the story is strong and powerful and surprisingly up-to-date considering it is almost 70 years old. It would seem the religious right has been throwing its muscle around longer than we think. I highly recommend "Rain", if for no other reason than to see Joan Crawford in the type of role that made her famous."