The Story of Temple Drake

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The Story of Temple Drake
Directed byStephen Roberts
Produced byBenjamin Glazer
Written byWilliam Faulkner (novel)
Oliver H. P. Garrett
Maurine Dallas Watkins
StarringMiriam Hopkins
Jack La Rue
Music byKarl Hajos (uncredited)
Bernhard Kaun (uncredited)
John Leipold (uncredited;additional music)
Ralph Rainger (uncredited;additional music)
CinematographyKarl Struss
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
May 12, 1933
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Story of Temple Drake is a 1933 pre-Code rape and revenge film adapted from the highly controversial novel Sanctuary by William Faulkner. Though watered down, the movie was still so scandalous, it was one of the reasons for the introduction of the Hays Code.[1] It starred Miriam Hopkins as Temple Drake, a wild Southern American woman who falls into the hands of a gang led by the brutal Trigger (based on the novel's Popeye), played by Jack La Rue.

The original novel was partly the basis of another film adaptation in 1961, this time under the book's original title, directed by Tony Richardson, starring Lee Remick as Temple Drake, Yves Montand as Candy (an amalgamation of Popeye and two other characters), Bradford Dillman, Harry Townes, and Odetta in a rare film appearance.

Long unseen except in bootleg 16mm prints, The Story of Temple Drake was restored by the Museum of Modern Art and re-premiered in 2011 at the TCM Classic Film Festival. The Criterion Collection announced that they will be bringing the film to Bluray and DVD in December 2019.[2]


Temple Drake, a frivolous young woman from a prominent Mississippi family, is raped and forced into prostitution by Trigger, a backwoods bootlegger, after Trigger shoots and kills a boy who tries to protect her. Another backwoodsman is charged with the murder. When Temple tries to leave Trigger, he becomes angry and is apparently about to assault her, so she grabs his pistol and shoots him, then flees back home to her family. An idealistic lawyer eventually persuades Temple to tell the truth about the first murder on the witness stand and save the defendant's life, even though her testimony will disgrace herself. According to Pre-Code scholar Thomas Doherty, the film implies that the deeds done to her are in recompense for her immorality in falling into a relationship with the gangster, instead of fleeing him.[3]

The relatively upbeat ending of the film is in marked contrast to the ending of Faulkner's novel Sanctuary, in which Temple perjures herself in court, resulting in the lynching of an innocent man.



Paramount Pictures served as the production company, acquiring the rights to film the adaptation in Spring 1932. As the public felt the novel had a racy reputation, the film received a new title as the plot had been made more mild and to avoid associating it with the novel.[8]

George Raft turned down the male lead.[9]

The credits only stated that Faulkner wrote the original novel. Robert Litell, who wrote a review of the film published in The New Republic on June 14, 1933, stated that the film producers also consulted Faulkner; statements about this are not present in the credits.[10]


Several protests and critical articles in newspapers appeared after the production company had purchased the rights, even before the release of the film itself.[8]

Phillips wrote that some critics, even while acknowledging the murder of Trigger would be justifiable, believed that it was wrong for the film to justify it.[11]


Faulkner stated that initially he wished to end the plot at the end of Sanctuary but he decided that, in Degenfelder's words, "Temple's reinterpretation would be dramatic and worthwhile."[10] Degenfelder believes that he may have gotten inspiration for the sequel from The Story of Temple Drake due to common elements between the two.[10]

See also[edit]


  • Degenfelder, E. Pauline (Winter 1976). "The Four Faces of Temple Drake: Faulkner's Sanctuary, Requiem for a Nun, and the Two Film Adaptations". American Quarterly. 28 (5): 544–560. doi:10.2307/2712288. JSTOR 2712288.
  • Phillips, Gene D. (Summer 1973). "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"". Literature/Film Quarterly. Salisbury University. 1 (2): 263–273. JSTOR 43795435.


  1. ^ "Plot synopsis". Allmovie. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  2. ^ "Criterion Collection". Criterion. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  3. ^ Doherty, Thomas Patrick (1999). Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema 1930-1934. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 117–8. ISBN 0-231-11094-4.
  4. ^ Degenfelder, p. 548.
  5. ^ Degenfelder, p. 549.
  6. ^ Phillips, p. 267.
  7. ^ Phillips, p. 266.
  8. ^ a b Phillips, p. 265.
  9. ^ PROJECTION JOTTINGS New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Feb 1933: X5.
  10. ^ a b c Degenfelder, p. 552.
  11. ^ Phillips, p. 268.

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