Friday, May 15, 2009

Rain (1932)

(Doesn't Joan look like the biggest drag queen in the world in that picture?)

Here we have another film featuring a member of the world's oldest profession. Only this time, she partners up with a wise-cracking priest to take down a magical pimp and save a bunch of her captive hooker friends.

Ok, not really.

Rain is the story of Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford), a prostitute on a boat trip that is forced to stop in Pago Pago, a Samoan village, due to a possible outbreak of Cholera. So, Sadie and the other passengers are forced to stay in the local inn. Unfortunately for Sadie, the other passengers consist of a missionary group headed by Alfred Davidson (Walter Huston), a very devout, very stern man. Needless to say, they look down upon Sadie for her rough talk and her habits of partying and drinking with sailors. Because of her tainted soul, they wish to either save Sadie or to force her to go back to America, where she is in some sort of trouble with the law.

Rain, is actually a very strong look at religious hypocrisy, which is surprising given when it was made. But while Alfred makes it known that Sadie's soul is in danger and that she needs to allow herself to be saved, he is secretly lusting after her, and what follows is a complete slap in the face to those who consider themselves morally high and mighty.

Joan Crawford is actually very good in the role, which surprised me. I watch watching a Bio of her on TV and they showed a clip from the film and I thought she looked wooden, but when I actually saw the film, I thought she was amazing. She makes Sadie a very well-rounded human being. She isn't a hardened, f*ck the world type of woman, but she's not a total pushover either. When she's mad, she'll speak out, but she expresses remorse over it, which makes all the more realistic and sympathetic.

The group of missionaries is the complete opposite. They come across as very repressed and wooden, which allows for a sharp contrast between the saints and the sinners of the film. Walter Huston is very much the same way, but we get the feeling that he is holding back something great and powerful, and we only get to see glimpses of that as the film goes on.

Rain is a great little film that's been lost in time, and I don't hear that much about it, but it features some brilliant acting and a message that still rings true to today and it is definitely worth a look.

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