The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (6)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (1)
Gloria Swanson received her first Best Actress Oscar nomination for the silent version of Somerset Maugham's famous story, directed by Raoul Walsh.
Confirms Walsh's robust chivalry and, as in Queen Kelly, Swanson's personal triumph
Gloria Swanson and Lionel Barrymore are terrific.
Fair drama, of note for Raoul Walsh as actor, and comments against the Religious Right
Religious hypocrisy is the main theme of 'Sadie Thompson', based on a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. Sharing the same hotel in Pago Pago, a religious reformer (Lionel Barrymore) takes a dim view of a 'loose' woman (Gloria Swanson), and after failing to get her to change her ways, lobbies the local governor to get her shipped back to San Francisco.
I liked this version a bit better than the 1932 version with Walter Huston and Joan Crawford because Barrymore is so brilliant, so harshly upright but at the same time, hinting at a demonic side as he glowers away. Despite the movie being silent, director Raoul Walsh (who also plays Swanson's love interest) delivers a couple of compelling scenes with Barrymore trying to exert his will, Swanson resisting, and the rain coming down, unrelenting. Swanson also lets loose with her anger, and in one funny moment it's obvious she's cursed a blue streak, as the ladies around her cover their ears and scamper off. 1928 was the first year for the Oscars and Swanson would be nominated for her performance. I admire her for it, but admire her more for producing the movie despite pressure because of its content, and considered a slightly higher rating.
The film itself is not in that great a shape, and while the last couple of minutes are mostly gone forever, we're fortunate that Dennis Doros restored it as best possible mostly with carefully selected stills. Watching this one has you clearly thinking you're getting a window into the past, but at the same time, aren't these themes of religious overreach still so prevalent today? Thank you Gloria Swanson.
The version that I saw was crackling with wear and took me out of the film a bit I'm afraid. Gloria Swanson who is so terrific in Sunset Boulevard doesn't quite measure up here.
the first adaptation of maugham's famous story, the film stars gloria swanson and director raoul walsh as well as an over the top lionel barrymore as the self appointed moral authority of the islands. swanson was nominated for an oscar here and walsh is terrific as the marine who falls for her. great screen presence! his acting career ended shortly after this when he lost an eye to a fateful jackrabbit through the windshield encounter and became the first of hollywood's dashing eye-patch wearing directors
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