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The South Sea island scenes were filmed on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California. A news item in Hollywood Reporter indicates that Ann Dvorak was once considered to play "Sadie Thompson." According to the file on the film in the AMPAS Library, director Lewis Milestone recut the film after the world premiere in Los Angeles, removing much scenery and dialogue footage and building up the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Davidson. According to modern sources, Davidson was made a missionary in the film instead of a minister and his character was softened, for fear of offending religious viewers. Although contemporary critics panned the movie and Crawford's acting, some modern critics contend that this is the best version of the frequently filmed story. The story was first filmed as Sadie Thompson by United Artists in 1928, starring and produced by Gloria Swanson and directed by Raoul Walsh (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4757). Columbia's 1953 production Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth and Jos Ferrer and directed by Curtis Bernhardt was also based on the same source.