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Sadie Thompson Details


Rain, the famous John Colton-Clemence Randolph theatrical adaptation of Somerset Maugham's short story about religious hypocrisy, was such a "hot potato" in 1928 that the Hays Office, Hollywood's self-appointed censorship bureau, would not allow the play to be filmed under its original title. Thus, the silent film version of Rain went out as Sadie Thompson, which happened to be the name of the central character. Gloria Swanson plays Sadie, a woman of loose morals and sordid reputation who travels to the South Seas, seeking out a new life. She makes little effort to curb her hedonism, especially when she's "entertaining" a group of US marines stationed in the tiny island where she lives. Sadie falls genuinely in love for the first time with marine Raoul Walsh (who also directed the film), which displeases visiting bluenose Lionel Barrymore (a clergyman in the original play, but a private citizen here). Threatening to expose Sadie to the local authorities if she doesn't clear out, the sanctimonious Barrymore declares that the fallen woman can only save herself by embracing the word of God. The repentant Sadie sobbingly promises to do so--whereupon Barrymore, in a moment of weakness, seduces Sadie himself. Barrymore commits suicide, leaving Sadie free to start life over with Walsh. Lip-readers had a field day watching Gloria Swanson mouth the most colorful of obscenities, which were immediately "laundered" by censor-approved subtitles. Current prints of Sadie Thompson are incomplete; the final reel has been reconstructed with reshot titles and still pictures. The film would be remade under the original title Rain in 1932, with Joan Crawford in the lead; 22 years later, a heavily bowdlerized musical version of Rain, starring Rita Hayworth, was released as Rita Hayworth. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:January 7, 1928


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences George Barnes Best Cinematography 1927 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gloria Swanson Best Actress 1927 Nominee


Lionel Barrymore
as Alfred Atkinson
Gloria Swanson
as Sadie Thompson
Blanche Frederici
as Mrs. Atkinson
James Marcus
as Joe Horn
Raoul Walsh
as Sgt. Tim O'Hara
Will Stanton
as Quartermaster Bates


Raoul Walsh
William Cameron Menzies
Gloria Swanson
Raoul Walsh
George Barnes
Robert Kurrle
C. Gardner Sullivan