Rain, the stage play which John Colton made from W. Somerset Maugham’s story about sex, sin and salvation in the tropics, is back for a third try as a motion picture. This time it’s a modernized version fancied up with 3-D and Technicolor.
The production uses an authentic island background for the story, the lensing having been done in Hawaii, so the presentation has a lush tropical look.
In this treatment, Sadie is a shady lady chased out of a Honolulu bawdy house by Davidson, a man determined to keep sin out of the islands. She dodges deportation to San Francisco, where she’s wanted for another rap, by taking a ship for New Caledonia. Enroute, the ship is quarrantined at an island occupied mostly by Marines.
The dramatic pacing of Curtis Bernhardt’s direction achieves a frenzied jazz tempo, quite in keeping with the modernization, and most of the performances respond in kind, especially that of Rita Hayworth. She catches the feel of the title character well, even to braving completely deglamorizing makeup, costuming and photography to fit her physical appearance to that of the bawdy, shady lady that was Sadie Thompson. Less effective is Jose Ferrer’s Alfred Davidson, no longer a missionary bigot but a straight layman bigot. Missing under the change is the religious fanaticism that motivated and made understandable the original Freudian character.
Aldo Ray, playing Sergeant O’Hara, the Marine who makes an honest woman of Sadie, is good.
1953: Nomination: Best Song (‘Blue Pacific Blues’)