Miss Sadie Thompson

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Miss Sadie Thompson
Misssadiethompson.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
Produced by Jerry Wald
Written by W. Somerset Maugham
Harry Kleiner
Starring Rita Hayworth
José Ferrer
Aldo Ray
Russell Collins
Diosa Costello
Peggy Converse
Charles Bronson[1]
Music by Morris Stoloff
Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr.
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates December 23, 1953 (1953-12-23)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.9 million (US)[2]

Miss Sadie Thompson is a 1953 American musical 3D film starring Rita Hayworth, Aldo Ray and José Ferrer, and was released by Columbia Pictures. The film is based on the W. Somerset Maugham short story Miss Thompson (later retitled Rain). Other film versions include Sadie Thompson (1928) starring Gloria Swanson, Rain (1932) starring Joan Crawford, and Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A., a 1946 race film.

Plot[edit]

A bar girl from Hawaii, a religious zealot and a love-struck Marine struggle with sin and salvation just after World War II while Sadie Thompson kicks out several songs, including the Oscar-nominated "Blue Pacific Blues".

Production[edit]

This was Rita Hayworth's third film after her marriage to Prince Aly Khan had kept her off screen for four years. The public eagerly welcomed her return in two previous films Affair in Trinidad and Salome so Columbia gave Miss Sadie Thompson an "A" film budget. 3-D films had become a fad, with some 3-D films drawing huge crowds in major cities, so it was used as well. Exteriors were filmed on the island of Kauai, Hawaii and interiors on the Columbia lot.

The original story of sin and redemption was sanitized to appease the Production Code and several musical numbers were inserted to spice up the tepid reworked plot. As with her previous films, Hayworth's singing was dubbed, this time by Jo Ann Greer. By the time of the premiere on December 23, 1953, interest in 3-D had died down considerably. After a two-week run, all 3-D prints were pulled. The film was given a national release "flat", in other words, in regular prints, minus the 3-D.

Censorship[edit]

Miss Sadie Thompson was produced during the era of the production code. To conform with censors' dictates, the character of Sadie Thompson was changed from a prostitute into a nightclub singer with a past. She was accused of being a prostitute by Alfred Davidson; he was changed from a morally corrupt and sadistic minister to an unaffiliated religious zealot (to avoid offense to any specific religious group). The film still drew criticism. Lloyd T. Binford, the 85-year-old head of the Memphis Board of Censors, said, "It's rotten, lewd, immoral, just a plain raw dirty picture;" described "The Heat Is On" as a "filthy dance scene;" and believed the film should be banned. Several state censorship boards banned the film outright.

Reviews[edit]

  • Variety: "She catches the feel of the title character well, even to braving completely deglamorizing makeup, costuming and photography to fit her physical appearance to that of the bawdy, shady lady that was Sadie Thompson".
  • The Village Voice: Although its Hays Code sanitizing is mitigated somewhat by the glorious extravagances of 1950s cinema (it's a Technicolor, 3-D star vehicle with musical numbers), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) is a scoured version of Rain (1932).
  • Bosley Crowther of The New York Times: "The character of Sadie is drained of considerable point by the prudence of the producers. And Miss Hayworth is left with a role in which she is able to inject very little, outside her own particular brand of appeal".

Availability[edit]

  • A dual projection polarized 3-D print of Miss Sadie Thompson was screened at The World 3-D Expo 2006 September 10, 2006 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, Ca.
  • The trailer (2D version can be seen here courtesy of Sabu Cat Productions.
  • A VHS full screen edition of Miss Sadie Thompson was released in 1994 but is no longer available.
  • A DVD full screen edition of Miss Sadie Thompson was released in 2001 but is no longer available.
  • Another edition of the DVD is available as part of "The Films of Rita Hayworth" 5-disc box set.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Credited as Charles Buchinsky.
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, January 5, 1955

External links[edit]