“Rain” (1932) by Lewis Milestone






Rain is a 1932 South Seas drama film directed by Lewis Milestone with portions filmed at Santa Catalina Island, California. The film stars Joan Crawford as prostitute Sadie Thompson and features Walter Huston as a conflicted missionary who wants to reform Sadie, but whose own morals start decaying. Crawford was loaned out by MGM to United Artists for this film.

The plot of the film is based on the 1923 play Rain by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, which in turn was based on the short story “Miss Thompson” (later retitled “Rain”) by W. Somerset Maugham. Actress Jeanne Eagels had played the role on stage. Other movie versions of the story include: a 1928 silent film titled Sadie Thompson starring Gloria Swanson, and the heavily sanitized Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), which starred Rita Hayworth.

Plot:

A westbound ship en route to Apia, Samoa, is temporarily stranded at nearby Pago Pago due to a possible cholera outbreak on board. Among the passengers are Alfred Davidson, a self-righteous missionary, his wife, and Sadie Thompson, a prostitute. Thompson passes the time partying and drinking with the American Marines stationed on the island. Sergeant Tim O’Hara, nicknamed by Sadie as “Handsome”, falls in love with her.

Her wild behavior soon becomes more than the Davidsons can stand and Mr. Davidson confronts Sadie, resolving to save her soul. When she dismisses his offer, Davidson has the Governor order her deported to San Francisco, California, where she is wanted for an unspecified crime (for which she says she was framed). She begs Davidson to allow her to remain on the island a few more days – her plan is to flee to Sydney, Australia. During a heated argument with Davidson, she experiences a religious conversion and agrees to return to San Francisco and the jail sentence awaiting her there.

The evening before she is to leave, Sergeant O’Hara asks Sadie to marry him and offers to hide her until the Sydney boat sails, but she refuses. Later, while native drums beat, the repressed Davidson satisfies his lust with Sadie. The next morning he is found dead on the beach – a suicide. Davidson’s hypocrisy and betrayal cause Thompson to return to her old self and she goes off to Sydney with O’Hara to start a new life.

Directed by Lewis Milestone (uncredited)
Produced by Lewis Milestone
Written by W. Somerset Maugham (story)
Maxwell Anderson (adaptation)
Based on Rain (play) by John Colton and Clemence Randolph
Starring Joan Crawford
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Oliver T. Marsh
Edited by W. Duncan Mansfield
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
October 12, 1932
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $591,000

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