I actually already met my period drama goal, but I am having so much fun watching the old movie classics that I am continuing the fun. Sadie Thompson is an old silent film starring Gloria Swanson as Sadie Thompson, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Davidson and Raoul Walsh as Sargeant Timothy O’Hara. Sadie Thompson was released on January 7, 1928 and was produced by Gloria Swanson. I streamed this movie on Netflix.
This silent movie is about a former prostitute who arrive on the island of Pago, Pago to await a ship that is leaving for Apia (wherever Apia is). Sadie says that she is looking for a better life and has a job waiting for her in Apia. The boat to Apia is quarantined though for 10 days because of a smallpox outbreak. Sadie ends up spending the time in a hotel with an extreme religious reformer named Mr. Davidson.
Gloria Swanson as Sadie Thompson in the film. Gloria Swanson is gorgeous in this movie and her acting is quite good given the fact that this is a silent film. In silence movies the actors need to over act in order to get the messages across to the audience. Miss Swanson’s has big penetrating eyes that lures you into her character.
Sadie Thompson also meets a military sergeant named Tim O’Hara. Sadie refers to Sargeant O’Hara as “handsome” throughout the film.
Mr. “Handsome” is bowled over by Sadie.
Mr. “Handsome” falls in love with Sadie and asks her to go to Sydney instead of Apia. In Sydney Mr. “Handsome” and Sadie will get married and start a life together.
To Mr. Davidson and his wife, Sadie is a sinner and must repent and be “saved”. At first Sadie stands up for herself but then she is so afraid of being sent back to San Francisco and going to jail that Mr. Davidson finally succeeds in breaking her down.
Sadie repents and agrees to be sent back to “Frisco” because according to Mr. Davidson it is the only way that Sadie can be redeemed. Mr. “Handsome” does not take this well and tries to talk some sense into Sadie who has been brainwashed by Mr. Davidson.
We learn later on the Mr. Davidson has dreams about Sadie Thompson that are not morally clean. It turns out that Mr. Davidson is a hypocrite because he is actually sexually attracted to Sadie and has been wanting her.
Mr. Davidson takes his own life and Sadie agrees to go to Sydney and marry Mr. “Handsome” after all.
This is a very good silent film that kept my interest from beginning to end. The music is nice, but It does not seem to me to be original to the movie. This film had to be restored and is missing the ending, so it was pieced together using still photos of the film that were in Gloria Swanson’s possessions. The storyline also flows along at a good pace.
Miss Swanson was a very independent woman and in 1928 it was hardly common for a woman to produce her own movies. Miss Swanson wanted creative control and really fought it produce a couple of films. In order to get Sadie Thompson made Miss Swanson there were a few loops that she had to jump. The movie ended up going way over budget because of constant delays in completing filming.
Joseph P. Kennedy was in love with Gloria Swanson. He convinced Swanson to sell her rights to Sadie Thompson. Kennedy did not like the character that Swanson played and was convinced the movie would fail. Sadie Thompson went on to earn 1 million dollars in the USA which was plenty of money back then for a movie to earn. Joseph Kennedy did finance other film projects for Swanson.
One of the things I have noticed about all the classic movies I have been watching is the incredible amount of cigarette smoking throughout the films.