Sadie Thompson Reviews
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.
Roual Walsh played the genuine love interest of Sadie & was also the director of the film. It has beautiful camera work & gorgeous lighting. Gloria Swanson was sensational as Sadie Thompson she was charismatic & was capable of all the emotional depths she needed.
Quite a tragic film that's quite ground breaking for its time & it's quite compelling to watch.
Check it out!
The film stars Gloria Swanson who plays a woman named Sadie Thompson. Sadie Thompson was from San Francisco (probably a prostitute in San Francisco) and takes a ship to Pago Pago to try and start a new life. There, she meets an over-zealous missionary (played by Lionel Barrymore - the great uncle of Drew Barrymore) who tries to get her to repent for her sins. She meets a man who wants to take her to Australia, but the missionary wants no part of that. The plot isn't really all that complex and takes place in pretty much once location. My main complaint with the plot is that Thompson's attitude seems to flip-flop several times with little explanation during the end of the film but other than that the plot is good.
This film is the first silent film I've seen where I really noticed the acting in any meaningful way. While Swanson did not impress me in this film nearly as much as the talking picture Sunset Boulevard, this performance was still quite memorable. Swanson made me care about Sadie Thompson. Lionel Barrymore's performance as the missionary was also quite good. As the film progressed I hated him.
Unfortunately, the final reel of this film is considered lost so the dramatic conclusion is not presented in video but rather still photographs from the missing scenes and excessive intertitles. While not completely distracting, it is quite unfortunate as it made the ending a little less dramatic than it should have been. Only a very small percentage of silent films exist in any form today so it is quite fortunate that this film, or at least the vast majority of it, still exists.
Overall, this was a pretty good film although it was far short of the nearly perfect Sunset Boulevard. Swanson's performance was the most memorable bit of silent acting I've ever seen. For those that have seen and liked Sunset Boulevard and are not afraid of silent films, this is probably worth checking out. Most people won't even consider watching silent films so I would only recommend this to those that do as this is not the best silent film to make your first.
UP NEXT: Back to talking pictures with Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess.