Yesterday's post on the history of rain wear featured a photo of a very young Joan Crawford in the 1927 movie 'Twelve Miles Out.'. Today, in continuing with the rain theme, and featuring Joan Crawford, I look at the 1932 South Seas drama film directed by Lewis Milestone, 'Rain.'
Crawford was loaned out by MGM to United Artists for this film, in which she stars as 'lady of the night' Sadie Thompson. Walter Huston is Alfred Davidson, the missionary who wants to reform her. Although her makeup is heavy handed, I think Crawford still looks great, and her acting is very good - she totally owned the part and brought Sadie vividly to life. Variety magazine at the time disagreed, "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.... [Director] 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." Rain was not well received at the box-office either, perhaps not the cheery movie the depression era audience was wanting.
|Director Lewis Milestone, Joan Crawford and Walter Huston on the set of Rain|
|Gloria Swanson as Sadie|
|"I wonder why it must rain. Doesn't it ever stop?"|
The photography is brilliant, with lots of artistic shots of the rain and clouds, and then finally the sun breaking through. Horn and Dr McPhail have a discussion about the lives of the natives and the reformers on board the ship and back in Chicago, while walking back to Horn's house, where they all will stay. Mrs Davidson says the ladies must sew mosquito nets tomorrow as the bites will be horrendous - but they couldn't possible sew on the Sabbath, and protect themselves right away. Meanwhile Sadie has unpacked her liquor and is showing the marines how to do the latest dance from the States with willing partner, Quartermaster Bates from the ship. Mrs Davidson looks on disaprovingly.
Apparently dancing is not allowed on the Sabbath either, and Mrs Davidson gets very cross. As Bates leaves to return to the ship, we see the first glimpse of Mr Davidson's attitude towards Sadie, and she slinks off quietly to have 'tea' with the marines. Unfortunately for Alfred Davidson, he takes it upon himself to stop their party by turning off the music before the house is 'turned into a brothel' - the marines are not happy and Sadie crossly says, 'when you bust into a ladies room you ought to get someone to introduce you fella!" Davidson at this point appears merely stuffy, and slightly strange, but not quite the stuff of fire and brimstone.
Davidson storms off, and his wife states, "I don't know what he'll do, but I wouldn't want to be in that little girls shoes."
There's more rain but the natives sing happily while they bring in the fish. The Dr and Horn have another deep and meaningful chat about Davidson's beahviour, and when asked if he thinks she is a prostitute, Horn states boldy, "I don't know and I don't care, What if she is? We've all crossed thresholds we don't want to brag about." Sadie picks that moment to enter the room, and the discussion ceases, but Horn does advise her not keep company over the next few days.
|Beans or Tuna fish for dinner?|
|"Don't look at her, don't speak to her," says Mrs Davidson|
|Walter Huston, Joan Crawford-- Rain|
|William Gargan (Sergeant Tim O'Hara) and Joan Crawford (SadieThompson)|
Sadie then gets a letter from the Governors office, ordering her back to San Franciso in four days time. She is so upset that Handsome agrees to accompany her to see the Governor and change his mind. They pass Davidson on the way, and Sadie gets stuck into him. "You'd tear the heart out of your grandmother," she spits.
Before her departure, however, Sadie has a radical conversion experience and completely changes her ways - how surprising. Arthur Davidson, too, has a change of ways and gives in to his lust for Sadie. I don't want to give the ending away, but how it all plays out is the balance of the film.
Here is the full movie.
Enjoy, Deb xxx