Miss Sadie Thompson


1h 31m 1954
Miss Sadie Thompson

Brief Synopsis

A moralist sets out to reform the legendary South Seas floozy.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Rain, W. Somerset Maugham's Miss Sadie Thompson
Genre
Drama
Musical
Release Date
Feb 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Dec 1953
Production Company
Beckworth Corp.; Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Hawaii, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Miss Thompson" by W. Somerset Maugham in The Smart Set (Apr 1921).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

At the end of the Second World War on a military base on a small South Pacific island, U.S. Marine Sgt. Phil O'Hara and his fellow soldiers await their discharges while attending to mundane peacetime duties. On a routine supply pickup, Phil and several of his men meet arriving sea passengers Dr. Robert MacPhail and his wife, and missionaries Alfred and Margaret Davidson who are returning to the island after a year's absence. With two free hours between transports, Davidson and MacPhail are intent upon revisiting the missionary hospital they established on the island. Phil and the men are more enthusiastic about the arrival of the mail boat, which brings another passenger between ships, singer Sadie Thompson, who is headed to New Caledonia. While Phil and the men excitedly smuggle the gregarious Sadie to Bill's Bar in the village, Davidson and MacPhail visit the missionary hospital. Later, when Davidson hears robust singing emanating from Bill's, he stops by to chastise the Marines for breaking the Sabbath. Upon returning to the harbor to catch her boat, Sadie discovers that a week-long quarantine has been issued for the entire island. Phil and the men cheerfully escort Sadie to Joe Horn's modest hotel, where she is forced to accept a small spare room because the Davidsons and MacPhails have already taken the larger rooms. The following day as the monsoon season begins, Davidson expresses dismay at Sadie's boisterousness and the Marines visiting her room. When Davidson criticizes Sadie's character, MacPhail protests, accusing Davidson of intolerance. That evening, Sadie sings and dances for the men at Bill's, as Davidson, playing cards with the MacPhails, recalls having seen Sadie in Honolulu, outside of the notorious Emerald Club, a house of prostitution. MacPhail defends Sadie, upbraiding Davidson for his presumption that Sadie was employed at Emerald's. That night, Phil and the men drunkenly escort Sadie back to her room. Angered by their rowdiness, Davidson bursts in, ordering the men to leave, which prompts Phil to attack the missionary before being stopped by the others. After the soldiers leave, Davidson asks Sadie why she left Honolulu abruptly. Startled, she insists that he clarify his insinuations, but Davidson maintains that he only wishes to offer her redemption. The next day, Davidson visits the governor and demands Sadie's arrest, claiming she is a fugitive from America. Back at Horn's, Phil finds Sadie packing, determined to move into the village, fearful that Davidson may try to prevent her passage to New Caledonia. In the village, however, the native families refuse to take Sadie in, not wanting to incur Davidson's displeasure. Angry and frustrated, Sadie returns to Horn's, where Phil asks her to forgo her plans for New Caledonia and instead meet him in Australia, where he intends to settle upon his discharge. Sadie agrees just as a messenger brings her notice from the governor's office of her deportation to San Francisco in three days. Phil accompanies Sadie to the governor's office, but she insists on seeing him alone. When Sadie pleads with the governor to be allowed to go to Australia, he tells her that if Davidson allows it, he will approve. At Horn's, Sadie confronts Davidson but he accuses her of fleeing from the American police. Sadie admits to having been involved with a man who committed murder and for behavior for which she is not proud. Davidson insists she must pay for her immorality. Later, Phil visits Sadie and when he realizes Davidson is responsible for the deportation order, seeks him out. Learning of Sadie's past, Phil berates her, and declares that he could never marry her. After Phil departs, Davidson visits the distraught Sadie and prays over her. Confused, Sadie withdraws for the next couple of days and begins reading the Bible. When MacPhail expresses concern for her, Sadie reassures him, revealing that Davidson has helped her face up to her past and that she has accepted that she must return to San Francisco. As the transport arrives on the island, Phil visits Sadie to apologize for his reaction and to tell her he has arranged for her passage to New Caledonia. Sadie insists the only way that she will feel free is to accept punishment for her actions and return home. Davidson arrives and Sadie asks a disappointed Phil to go away. Davidson praises Sadie for her strength and she thanks him for providing her with confidence. To Sadie's amazement, Davidson then abruptly demands to know why she is leaving him and coldly tells her she can never change what she is and attacks her. The following morning Davidson commits suicide by jumping from a cliff. Phil rushes to Horn's, worried about Sadie's reaction to Davidson's death. Embittered, Sadie is nevertheless stunned and paralyzed by the news, until MacPhail convinces her she cannot let Davidson's actions ruin her. When Phil insists he wants to resume their plans for Australia, Sadie asks him if he can forget her past and he says he wants the opportunity to try. She agrees and sets off for Australia after Phil promises to meet her there in a month.

Film Details

Also Known As
Rain, W. Somerset Maugham's Miss Sadie Thompson
Genre
Drama
Musical
Release Date
Feb 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Dec 1953
Production Company
Beckworth Corp.; Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Hawaii, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Miss Thompson" by W. Somerset Maugham in The Smart Set (Apr 1921).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Award Nominations

Best Song

1953

Articles

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)


If the Rita Hayworth of the 1940s - the Hayworth of Gilda (1946) and Cover Girl (1944) - is the ultimate glamour icon, the Hayworth of the 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson is a glamour queen who's a little more tarnished, and perhaps a little more interesting. In this highly sanitized version of W. Somerset Maugham's short story "Rain," Hayworth plays the Sadie Thompson of the title, a woman of shadowy morals and vibrant sex appeal who arrives on a Pacific Island just after World War II, much to the delight of the Marines stationed there, but also to the consternation of morally upstanding missionary-type Alfred Davidson (played by Jose Ferrer). As scrappy Marine Sergeant Phil O'Hara (Aldo Ray) woos Sadie, Davidson seeks to banish her from the island, though his motives have more to do with his own dark desires than with Sadie's alleged crimes against morality. In Miss Sadie Thompson, there's a dollop of tragedy, a soupcon of redemption, and a whole lot of steaminess, thanks to Hayworth's sultry presence - though the performance is notable less for its sexiness than for how touching Hayworth is, as a rather blowsy beauty who seems to know her days for potential romantic happiness are numbered.

In the movie's early scenes, Hayworth's performance is intentionally high pitched; her character is working hard to be the good-time gal, and so Hayworth exaggerates the hip-swinging and hair-tossing. In the later scenes, though, Hayworth's gravity intensifies in a way that challenges the picture's attempts at light-heartedness. Hayworth's performance is terrific, so good that it seems to belong in a different movie, which makes sense considering Miss Sadie Thompson was designed essentially as a breezy entertainment. That in itself was a bit of an odd choice considering that other actresses - among them Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford, and, onstage, Jeanne Eagels - had played the same character in earlier and considerably juicier versions of the material. Miss Sadie Thompson, directed by Curtis Bernhardt, was at first intended to be a musical, and Lester Lee and Ned Washington contributed a few songs which made it into the final cut: The most memorable is Hayworth's song-and-dance number "The Heat Is On," in which Sadie raises the Marines' collective temperature by shimmying and shaking across the dance floor in a flouncy, citrus-colored dress. The picture was also shot as a 3-D feature, though the version that ultimately played in theaters was 2-D. And many of the story's original details were softened considerably: For example, Ferrer's character, Alfred Davidson, originally a minister, was turned into more of a bureaucrat-missionary, ostensibly to prevent American religious groups from lodging complaints. (Ferrer has conceded that he took the role only to drain some of the heat off the attention he'd recently attracted from the House Un-American Activities Committee.)

Bernhardt himself wasn't particularly happy with the finished movie. As he told interviewer Mary Kiersch in an oral history conducted for the Director's Guild of America, preparing the film in 3-D meant keeping the camera very still for long stretches, which made the actors self-conscious and stiff. "I found Rita most cooperative on this film, though," he adds, further noting that the actress was going through some personal turmoil at the time. At the time Miss Sadie Thompson was being made, Hayworth was still reeling from several failed marriages - her second and third, respectively, to Orson Welles and to Prince Aly Khan. Thus she was vulnerable to the advances of singer, actor and notorious scoundrel Dick Haymes - his nickname in Hollywood was, according to Hayworth biographer Barbara Leaming, "Mr. Evil" -- who pursued her aggressively. At the time, Haymes owed alimony and child support to a number of ex-wives and was heavily in debt; Hayworth, then one of Columbia's biggest stars (and certainly one of its most beautiful), must have looked like quite the meal ticket.

Perhaps unwilling to let this dollar sign with legs out of his sight for an instant, Haymes followed Hayworth to Hawaii, where Miss Sadie Thompson was being filmed. Before leaving the United States - at the time, Hawaii was still a U.S. territory, not a state - Haymes, a citizen of Argentina, obtained the documents he thought he needed to travel there. But when he returned to the States a few weeks later - after some heavy-duty wooing of Hayworth in a tropical paradise - he was detained and threatened with deportation. As it turned out, Haymes was allowed to remain in the country: Hayworth married him in September of 1953, which also meant marrying his financial difficulties. The couple would divorce two years later, by which time Hayworth's career was already in decline.

But in Miss Sadie Thompson, Hayworth was still burning bright. Her Sadie - unlike the Sadie originally written by Maugham - was less obviously a prostitute than a seductive mischief maker with a hearty appetite for fun. Hayworth wears that zest for life almost literally on the surface of her skin: She gleams with sweat through most of the movie - her beauty is a little coarser, a little more world-weary, a far cry from the powdered glow of perfection that had become familiar from her previous film roles. She was also about 10 pounds heavier than her usual weight, and the additional padding - far from being unwelcome - gives her extra erotic swagger. During Sadie's brief period of religious redemption, all that life temporarily goes out of her - suddenly, her skin and her eyes look dull; she has become zombified. We desperately need the old Sadie back, and thankfully, we get her. Miss Sadie Thompson suffers from clumsy tone shifts - it's never quite sure what kind of movie it wants to be. But Hayworth's Sadie knows exactly what she's doing: She's not suffering through life, but rather living right through the pain. The difference between the two may be subtle, yet it's as wide as the ocean, and Hayworth bridges it beautifully.

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), Diosa Costello (Ameena Horn), Harry Bellaver (Joe Horn), Peggy Converse (Mrs. Margaret Davidson), Charles Bronson (Pvt. Edwards), Henry Slate (Pvt. Griggs).
C-91m. Closed Captioning.

by Stephanie Zackarek

SOURCES:
Gene Ringgold, The Films of Rita Hayworth, Citadel Press, 2000
Barbara Leaming, If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth, Sphere Books, 1989
John Kobal, Rita Hayworth: The Time, the Place and the Woman, Berkley Books, 1983
Mary Kiersch, Curtis Bernhardt: A Director's Guild of America Oral History, Director's Guild of America and Scarecrow Press, 1986

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)

If the Rita Hayworth of the 1940s - the Hayworth of Gilda (1946) and Cover Girl (1944) - is the ultimate glamour icon, the Hayworth of the 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson is a glamour queen who's a little more tarnished, and perhaps a little more interesting. In this highly sanitized version of W. Somerset Maugham's short story "Rain," Hayworth plays the Sadie Thompson of the title, a woman of shadowy morals and vibrant sex appeal who arrives on a Pacific Island just after World War II, much to the delight of the Marines stationed there, but also to the consternation of morally upstanding missionary-type Alfred Davidson (played by Jose Ferrer). As scrappy Marine Sergeant Phil O'Hara (Aldo Ray) woos Sadie, Davidson seeks to banish her from the island, though his motives have more to do with his own dark desires than with Sadie's alleged crimes against morality. In Miss Sadie Thompson, there's a dollop of tragedy, a soupcon of redemption, and a whole lot of steaminess, thanks to Hayworth's sultry presence - though the performance is notable less for its sexiness than for how touching Hayworth is, as a rather blowsy beauty who seems to know her days for potential romantic happiness are numbered. In the movie's early scenes, Hayworth's performance is intentionally high pitched; her character is working hard to be the good-time gal, and so Hayworth exaggerates the hip-swinging and hair-tossing. In the later scenes, though, Hayworth's gravity intensifies in a way that challenges the picture's attempts at light-heartedness. Hayworth's performance is terrific, so good that it seems to belong in a different movie, which makes sense considering Miss Sadie Thompson was designed essentially as a breezy entertainment. That in itself was a bit of an odd choice considering that other actresses - among them Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford, and, onstage, Jeanne Eagels - had played the same character in earlier and considerably juicier versions of the material. Miss Sadie Thompson, directed by Curtis Bernhardt, was at first intended to be a musical, and Lester Lee and Ned Washington contributed a few songs which made it into the final cut: The most memorable is Hayworth's song-and-dance number "The Heat Is On," in which Sadie raises the Marines' collective temperature by shimmying and shaking across the dance floor in a flouncy, citrus-colored dress. The picture was also shot as a 3-D feature, though the version that ultimately played in theaters was 2-D. And many of the story's original details were softened considerably: For example, Ferrer's character, Alfred Davidson, originally a minister, was turned into more of a bureaucrat-missionary, ostensibly to prevent American religious groups from lodging complaints. (Ferrer has conceded that he took the role only to drain some of the heat off the attention he'd recently attracted from the House Un-American Activities Committee.) Bernhardt himself wasn't particularly happy with the finished movie. As he told interviewer Mary Kiersch in an oral history conducted for the Director's Guild of America, preparing the film in 3-D meant keeping the camera very still for long stretches, which made the actors self-conscious and stiff. "I found Rita most cooperative on this film, though," he adds, further noting that the actress was going through some personal turmoil at the time. At the time Miss Sadie Thompson was being made, Hayworth was still reeling from several failed marriages - her second and third, respectively, to Orson Welles and to Prince Aly Khan. Thus she was vulnerable to the advances of singer, actor and notorious scoundrel Dick Haymes - his nickname in Hollywood was, according to Hayworth biographer Barbara Leaming, "Mr. Evil" -- who pursued her aggressively. At the time, Haymes owed alimony and child support to a number of ex-wives and was heavily in debt; Hayworth, then one of Columbia's biggest stars (and certainly one of its most beautiful), must have looked like quite the meal ticket. Perhaps unwilling to let this dollar sign with legs out of his sight for an instant, Haymes followed Hayworth to Hawaii, where Miss Sadie Thompson was being filmed. Before leaving the United States - at the time, Hawaii was still a U.S. territory, not a state - Haymes, a citizen of Argentina, obtained the documents he thought he needed to travel there. But when he returned to the States a few weeks later - after some heavy-duty wooing of Hayworth in a tropical paradise - he was detained and threatened with deportation. As it turned out, Haymes was allowed to remain in the country: Hayworth married him in September of 1953, which also meant marrying his financial difficulties. The couple would divorce two years later, by which time Hayworth's career was already in decline. But in Miss Sadie Thompson, Hayworth was still burning bright. Her Sadie - unlike the Sadie originally written by Maugham - was less obviously a prostitute than a seductive mischief maker with a hearty appetite for fun. Hayworth wears that zest for life almost literally on the surface of her skin: She gleams with sweat through most of the movie - her beauty is a little coarser, a little more world-weary, a far cry from the powdered glow of perfection that had become familiar from her previous film roles. She was also about 10 pounds heavier than her usual weight, and the additional padding - far from being unwelcome - gives her extra erotic swagger. During Sadie's brief period of religious redemption, all that life temporarily goes out of her - suddenly, her skin and her eyes look dull; she has become zombified. We desperately need the old Sadie back, and thankfully, we get her. Miss Sadie Thompson suffers from clumsy tone shifts - it's never quite sure what kind of movie it wants to be. But Hayworth's Sadie knows exactly what she's doing: She's not suffering through life, but rather living right through the pain. The difference between the two may be subtle, yet it's as wide as the ocean, and Hayworth bridges it beautifully. 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), Diosa Costello (Ameena Horn), Harry Bellaver (Joe Horn), Peggy Converse (Mrs. Margaret Davidson), Charles Bronson (Pvt. Edwards), Henry Slate (Pvt. Griggs). C-91m. Closed Captioning. by Stephanie Zackarek SOURCES: Gene Ringgold, The Films of Rita Hayworth, Citadel Press, 2000 Barbara Leaming, If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth, Sphere Books, 1989 John Kobal, Rita Hayworth: The Time, the Place and the Woman, Berkley Books, 1983 Mary Kiersch, Curtis Bernhardt: A Director's Guild of America Oral History, Director's Guild of America and Scarecrow Press, 1986

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

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

Miss Sadie Thompson - Rita Hayworth is MISS SADIE THOMPSON - Featured in The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection on DVD


Sony's latest "Collector's Choice" DVD collaboration with The Film Foundation, the film-preservation entity founded twenty years ago by Martin Scorsese, is the glittery and alluring "The Films of Rita Hayworth." There are five pictures here: three from the peak of Hayworth's career and glamour, and two from her comeback years (her first comeback, that is!). The box set is beautifully presented in a foldout case with attractive photographs, but the DVD transfers themselves are single- rather than dual-layered, and the picture quality is not as sublime as one would expect when Scorsese and The Film Foundation are involved. Based on viewing the previous "Collector's Choice" sets, such as those devoted to Budd Boetticher, Samuel Fuller, Kim Novak and film noir, this one falls a notch below, image-wise.

That is not to say the films look downright bad or unwatchable. They simply don't look flawless and the previous collections have for the most part conditioned us to expect flawlessness. (The high retail price implies perfection, too.) Still, most movie fans are going to want this collection, especially if they don't already own Gilda (1946) or Cover Girl (1944), the two titles already issued on DVD.

The film in the least-good physical condition here (it definitely has not been restored) is also one of the three that are new to DVD: Miss Sadie Thompson (1953). It's from the period of Hayworth's first comeback in the early 1950s, after her divorce from Prince Aly Khan. She made it hot on the heels of Affair in Trinidad (1952) and Salome (1953, also included here), and it is a true star vehicle. In fact, it's really the last film she ever made in which she is the whole show.

Hayworth stars as Sadie Thompson, a prostitute who finds herself temporarily stuck on American Samoa -- a Pacific island populated by U.S. Marines, including the amorous Sgt. O'Hara (Aldo Ray), native villagers, local government officials, and one very uptight, powerful missionary, Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer), who recognizes Sadie from a brothel raid in Honolulu that he organized some time ago. (The words "singer" and "nightclub" are used instead of "prostitute" and "brothel," but the film leaves no doubt as to the true meaning.) When Sadie's sultriness whips the girl-starved Marines up into a lather, the drinking, singing, dancing and carousing that follow are deemed by Davidson to be a bad influence. He arranges to have Sadie deported from the island on the next available ship, and the psychological clash that follows reveals a false moral and religious righteousness that veers into hypocrisy -- subject matter that keeps Miss Sadie Thompson relevant even today.

Certainly this material struck a chord with America when it first appeared in print. W. Somerset Maugham's short story Miss Thompson (later retitled Rain) was first published in 1921. In 1922 it was adapted as the Broadway play Rain, starring Jeanne Eagels in a legendary, long-running performance. That production was revived briefly in 1935 with Tallulah Bankhead as Sadie. A Broadway musical version, entitled Sadie Thompson, ran in 1944 starring June Havoc. Hollywood first came calling with Sadie Thompson (1928), starring Gloria Swanson, and then a scant four years later with Rain (1932), starring Joan Crawford and Walter Huston. The power of both those pictures was helped by the pre-Code times in which they were made. Miss Sadie Thompson, on the other hand, was encumbered by censorship problems and had to tone down its sexuality. Nonetheless it manages to imply a great deal and is ultimately a very good vehicle for Hayworth, despite dialogue that is sometimes too on-the-nose and an ending that feels rushed.

The role allows Hayworth to display impressive dramatic range, from free-spirited party girl to religiously awakened woman, and she strongly draws one's sympathy and interest. The scene where she admits the truth about herself to Aldo Ray is a beautiful piece of acting; Hayworth mixes defiance, anger, shame and vulnerability in a way that appears effortless.

She also has the opportunity to sing (though her voice is dubbed as usual), dance, and display her dazzling smile -- surely as good reasons as any for looking at a Rita Hayworth picture. Hayworth performs three songs by Lester Lee and Ned Washington, including the Oscar-nominated "Blue Pacific Blues" and the sultry "The Heat is On," in which she sings and dances in the middle of a smoky crowd of drooling Marines. The sequence caused big problems with the censors, but it's simply an entertaining and sexy interlude. To see Rita Hayworth surrounded by happy servicemen is also a nice visual reminder of her iconic pinup status during WWII.

Jose Ferrer didn't really want to do Miss Sadie Thompson. He later said he only agreed to take the part of Davidson because his agent insisted that if he did a major film opposite a star like Hayworth and for a studio player like Harry Cohn, it would dispel any lingering hesitations the industry had about hiring him because of his political leanings. (Ferrer had recently been grilled by the House Un-American Activities Committee.) "I accepted the job on that crass, opportunistic basis," Ferrer later said. While Ferrer does seem to plod through the paces of his role and not much more, his natural presence alone is quite effective in defining Davidson as righteous and rigid.

Elsewhere in the cast, Aldo Ray does fine as the naïve but well-meaning Sgt. O'Hara and builds surprisingly OK chemistry with Hayworth -- he even dances with her for a minute. Look also for a prominent Charles Buchinsky -- aka Charles Bronson -- as one of the other Marines.

Miss Sadie Thompson was shot in 3D but was given only a limited, 2-week release in 3D before opening wide in 2D; the 3D fad had simply died down by December 1953. Here, of course, it's presented in the flat 2D format, but one can tell that director Curtis Bernhardt and cameraman Charles "Buddy" Lawton, Jr. did not go for gimmicky, cheap 3D effects. Instead, they used composition to generate wonderful and immersive depth, especially in the beautiful landscape shots on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The lushly tropical look also adds successfully to the eroticism of the Sadie character and the story itself.

The other titles in this collection are Cover Girl, Gilda, Salome and Tonight and Every Night (1945), an underrated Technicolor musical that is likely to be the most pleasant new discovery for Rita Hayworth fans. (For more on that film, see my programming article here.) Other critics who have seen the earlier DVD editions of Cover Girl and Gilda claim that these new transfers are inferior. If true, that is surprising, and perhaps another sign of the Great Recession at play; maybe Sony just couldn't justify the expense of making things look perfect on these discs.

Certainly they skimped a bit on the extras this time around. There is one commentary track, by Richard Schickel on Gilda; trailers for each film except Cover Girl; brief introductions read by actress Patricia Clarkson for Tonight and Every Night and Miss Sadie Thompson; and two featurettes -- a four-minute discussion of Cover Girl from director Baz Luhrmann, and a 16-minute look at Gilda from Luhrmann and Martin Scorsese, who both discuss the personal effect the film has had on them and their own movies. These are well-edited and well worth a look, but some collectors will be disappointed not to find greater resources spent on the supplements.

The package comes with an insert and a donation envelope from Hayworth's daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, who for thirty years has been working with the Alzheimer's Association to raise awareness and funds to combat the disease, which afflicted her mother.

Look for the next "Collector's Choice" release in 2011 -- a box set devoted to the early sound films of Frank Capra.

For more information about Miss Sadie Thompson, visit Sony Pictures. To order Miss Sadie Thompson (available only as part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection), go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold

Miss Sadie Thompson - Rita Hayworth is MISS SADIE THOMPSON - Featured in The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection on DVD

Sony's latest "Collector's Choice" DVD collaboration with The Film Foundation, the film-preservation entity founded twenty years ago by Martin Scorsese, is the glittery and alluring "The Films of Rita Hayworth." There are five pictures here: three from the peak of Hayworth's career and glamour, and two from her comeback years (her first comeback, that is!). The box set is beautifully presented in a foldout case with attractive photographs, but the DVD transfers themselves are single- rather than dual-layered, and the picture quality is not as sublime as one would expect when Scorsese and The Film Foundation are involved. Based on viewing the previous "Collector's Choice" sets, such as those devoted to Budd Boetticher, Samuel Fuller, Kim Novak and film noir, this one falls a notch below, image-wise. That is not to say the films look downright bad or unwatchable. They simply don't look flawless and the previous collections have for the most part conditioned us to expect flawlessness. (The high retail price implies perfection, too.) Still, most movie fans are going to want this collection, especially if they don't already own Gilda (1946) or Cover Girl (1944), the two titles already issued on DVD. The film in the least-good physical condition here (it definitely has not been restored) is also one of the three that are new to DVD: Miss Sadie Thompson (1953). It's from the period of Hayworth's first comeback in the early 1950s, after her divorce from Prince Aly Khan. She made it hot on the heels of Affair in Trinidad (1952) and Salome (1953, also included here), and it is a true star vehicle. In fact, it's really the last film she ever made in which she is the whole show. Hayworth stars as Sadie Thompson, a prostitute who finds herself temporarily stuck on American Samoa -- a Pacific island populated by U.S. Marines, including the amorous Sgt. O'Hara (Aldo Ray), native villagers, local government officials, and one very uptight, powerful missionary, Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer), who recognizes Sadie from a brothel raid in Honolulu that he organized some time ago. (The words "singer" and "nightclub" are used instead of "prostitute" and "brothel," but the film leaves no doubt as to the true meaning.) When Sadie's sultriness whips the girl-starved Marines up into a lather, the drinking, singing, dancing and carousing that follow are deemed by Davidson to be a bad influence. He arranges to have Sadie deported from the island on the next available ship, and the psychological clash that follows reveals a false moral and religious righteousness that veers into hypocrisy -- subject matter that keeps Miss Sadie Thompson relevant even today. Certainly this material struck a chord with America when it first appeared in print. W. Somerset Maugham's short story Miss Thompson (later retitled Rain) was first published in 1921. In 1922 it was adapted as the Broadway play Rain, starring Jeanne Eagels in a legendary, long-running performance. That production was revived briefly in 1935 with Tallulah Bankhead as Sadie. A Broadway musical version, entitled Sadie Thompson, ran in 1944 starring June Havoc. Hollywood first came calling with Sadie Thompson (1928), starring Gloria Swanson, and then a scant four years later with Rain (1932), starring Joan Crawford and Walter Huston. The power of both those pictures was helped by the pre-Code times in which they were made. Miss Sadie Thompson, on the other hand, was encumbered by censorship problems and had to tone down its sexuality. Nonetheless it manages to imply a great deal and is ultimately a very good vehicle for Hayworth, despite dialogue that is sometimes too on-the-nose and an ending that feels rushed. The role allows Hayworth to display impressive dramatic range, from free-spirited party girl to religiously awakened woman, and she strongly draws one's sympathy and interest. The scene where she admits the truth about herself to Aldo Ray is a beautiful piece of acting; Hayworth mixes defiance, anger, shame and vulnerability in a way that appears effortless. She also has the opportunity to sing (though her voice is dubbed as usual), dance, and display her dazzling smile -- surely as good reasons as any for looking at a Rita Hayworth picture. Hayworth performs three songs by Lester Lee and Ned Washington, including the Oscar-nominated "Blue Pacific Blues" and the sultry "The Heat is On," in which she sings and dances in the middle of a smoky crowd of drooling Marines. The sequence caused big problems with the censors, but it's simply an entertaining and sexy interlude. To see Rita Hayworth surrounded by happy servicemen is also a nice visual reminder of her iconic pinup status during WWII. Jose Ferrer didn't really want to do Miss Sadie Thompson. He later said he only agreed to take the part of Davidson because his agent insisted that if he did a major film opposite a star like Hayworth and for a studio player like Harry Cohn, it would dispel any lingering hesitations the industry had about hiring him because of his political leanings. (Ferrer had recently been grilled by the House Un-American Activities Committee.) "I accepted the job on that crass, opportunistic basis," Ferrer later said. While Ferrer does seem to plod through the paces of his role and not much more, his natural presence alone is quite effective in defining Davidson as righteous and rigid. Elsewhere in the cast, Aldo Ray does fine as the naïve but well-meaning Sgt. O'Hara and builds surprisingly OK chemistry with Hayworth -- he even dances with her for a minute. Look also for a prominent Charles Buchinsky -- aka Charles Bronson -- as one of the other Marines. Miss Sadie Thompson was shot in 3D but was given only a limited, 2-week release in 3D before opening wide in 2D; the 3D fad had simply died down by December 1953. Here, of course, it's presented in the flat 2D format, but one can tell that director Curtis Bernhardt and cameraman Charles "Buddy" Lawton, Jr. did not go for gimmicky, cheap 3D effects. Instead, they used composition to generate wonderful and immersive depth, especially in the beautiful landscape shots on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The lushly tropical look also adds successfully to the eroticism of the Sadie character and the story itself. The other titles in this collection are Cover Girl, Gilda, Salome and Tonight and Every Night (1945), an underrated Technicolor musical that is likely to be the most pleasant new discovery for Rita Hayworth fans. (For more on that film, see my programming article here.) Other critics who have seen the earlier DVD editions of Cover Girl and Gilda claim that these new transfers are inferior. If true, that is surprising, and perhaps another sign of the Great Recession at play; maybe Sony just couldn't justify the expense of making things look perfect on these discs. Certainly they skimped a bit on the extras this time around. There is one commentary track, by Richard Schickel on Gilda; trailers for each film except Cover Girl; brief introductions read by actress Patricia Clarkson for Tonight and Every Night and Miss Sadie Thompson; and two featurettes -- a four-minute discussion of Cover Girl from director Baz Luhrmann, and a 16-minute look at Gilda from Luhrmann and Martin Scorsese, who both discuss the personal effect the film has had on them and their own movies. These are well-edited and well worth a look, but some collectors will be disappointed not to find greater resources spent on the supplements. The package comes with an insert and a donation envelope from Hayworth's daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, who for thirty years has been working with the Alzheimer's Association to raise awareness and funds to combat the disease, which afflicted her mother. Look for the next "Collector's Choice" release in 2011 -- a box set devoted to the early sound films of Frank Capra. For more information about Miss Sadie Thompson, visit Sony Pictures. To order Miss Sadie Thompson (available only as part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection), go to TCM Shopping. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

She disturbed Mr. Davidson horribly last night. He despises women of that kind.
- Mrs. Davidson
The founder of our religion was not so squeamish.
- Dr. MacPhail
Well, to paraphrase an old saying, the situation has landed and has the Marines well in hand.
- Dr. MacPhail
No, Doctor, moral standards can never be high enough. Especially here, where all of nature seems to conspire against us. Everything grows with a sort of savage violence; today you will see strange flowers where yesterday there were only roots.
- Mr. Davidson
That was a fast tour!
- Sadie
Most of the island's restricted.
- Sgt. O'Hara
There's enough sweat in the South Pacific to float a battleship.
- Sgt. O'Hara

Trivia

The hotel Maugham stayed at in American Samoa (the model for Trader Horn's) still stands, but for years has been a general store.

Aldo Ray sits in a hut with natives, trying to find a place for Hayworth in the village. The language used is Samoan. The native says, "Leai se potu," meaning "no room." Ray replies politely but then ends the conversation with, "Alu," which doesn't mean "good-bye" but rather something like, "Get out of here." It's what Samoans say when they shoo animals away from the food or chase children out of the house.

Notes

The film's title card reads "W. Somerset Maugham's Miss Sadie Thompson." The working title of the film was Rain. Maugham's short story was turned into a play, Rain, by Clemence Randolph and John Colton. A August 2, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that producer J. Arthur Rank considered purchasing the play's rights, held by Mary Pickford and Lester Cowan, and casting Bette Davis as "Sadie." Maugham's story was first adapted to the screen in 1928. The United Artists film, titled Sadie Thompson, starred Gloria Swanson, and was directed by Raoul Walsh (please see AFI Catalog of Feature Films; 1921-30). In 1932, United Artists released Rain, starring Joan Crawford and directed by Lewis Milestone, which was based on the short story and Colton and Randolph's play (please see AFI Catalog of Feature Films; 1931-40). Although Miss Sadie Thompson was released in 3-D, the print viewed was in standard format. According to reviews, portion of the film were shot on location in Hawaii. Modern sources conflict over whether JoAnn Greer or India Adams dubbed Rita Hayworth's singing voice. Lester Lee and Allan Roberts' song "The Blue Pacific Blues" was nominated for an Academy Award.