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Miss Sadie Thompson
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Miss Sadie Thompson

Sadie Thompson is a notorious prostitute from Honolulu's red light district who gets run out of town by a crusading moralist and boards a ship destined for New Caledonia rather than face deportation to San Francisco, a town where she is wanted on a morals charge. Enroute, the ship is unexpectedly quarrantined at an island occupied by an encampment of U.S. Marines.

Filmed on location in Hawaii, Miss Sadie Thompson gave Rita Hayworth an opportunity to play one of the most famous femme fatales in literature, a role originally immortalized on the stage by the legendary Jeanne Eagels. Other actresses have attempted it since including Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford but Hayworth puts a new spin on the character, bravely deglamorizing herself in the process. Ten pounds over her usual weight and costumed in dresses so tight you expect them to pop open any second (the film was originally released in 3-D), Hayworth perfectly captures Sadie's bawdy, unkempt physical appearance and unapologetic behavior. She also goes for broke during a frenzied musical number, "The Heat Is On," which is the genuine showstopper among the other two songs she performs (her vocals are dubbed by Jo Ann Greer), "Hear No Evil, See No Evil" and "Blue Pacific Blues." The latter number was nominated for the 1953 Best Song Oscar® but lost to "Secret Love" from Calamity Jane.

Producer Jerry Wald made some changes to the original W. Somerset Maugham story in accordance with the Hays Office, turning Sadie into a singer in a bordello and transforming the Alfred Davidson character into a religious bigot from his original occupation of ordained minister. Offscreen, other changes were in the works. It was during the filming of Miss Sadie Thompson that Rita Hayworth and singer Dick Haymes would began a romance that culminated in a marriage in 1953. Unfortunately, the union only lasted two years and was dissolved in 1955, due in part to Haymes's immigration and financial problems.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Harry Kleiner (based on the story "Rain" by W. Somerset Maugham)
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Editing: Viola Lawrence
Music: George Duning
Cast: Rita Hayworth (Sadie Thompson), Jose Ferrer (Alfred Davidson), Aldo Ray (Sgt. Phil O'Hara), Russell Collins (Dr. Robert MacPhail).
C-91m.

by Jeff Stafford

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