• Miss Sadie Thompson



    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: July 12th, 2016.
    Director: Curtis Bernhardt
    Cast: Charles Bronson, Jose Ferrer, Aldo Ray, Russell Collins, Diosa Costello, Rita Hayworth
    Year: 1953
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Directed by Curtis Bernhardt in 1953, Miss Sadie Thompson adapts for the silver screen Somerset Maugham’s story Miss Thompson (also known as Rain) in both full color and 3D for the first time, having been previously made into the films Sadie Thompson in 1928, Rain in 1932 and Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A.in 1946.

    The story follows the titular Miss Thompson (played this time out by the stunning Rita Hayworth) who winds up in American Samoa when a ship quarantine essentially leaves her stranded. There isn’t much around to keep her occupied, save for a military base – and boy are the Marines stationed there happy to see her! As she strikes up a courtship with Sgt. Phil O'Hara (Aldo Ray), a surly but kind hearted soldier, a hoity-toity moralizer named Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer) starts to speculate that this fiery redhead might just be a fugitive. Much drama and passion ensues as Sadie’s penchant for showgirl style antics run her afoul of Davidson and his crew, who aim to shut her down and restore morality to this dank and sweaty island once and for all!

    The film features a pretty interesting cast. Aldo Ray is well cast as the grouchy Marine whose heart can’t help but be warmed by the curvy visitor. He and Hayworth have an odd chemistry together here but watching them together on screen is nothing if not entertaining. Jose Ferrer is a good choice to play the moral hypocrite type, though you have to wonder if maybe he takes the stoic faced approach a little further than he needed to as he really does seem like he’s made of stone here. Also watched out for a decent if minor supporting turn from Charles Buchinsky before he became Charles Bronson, cast here as a young Marine who, like so many of his fellow soldiers, finds Sadie quite appealing when she dances as she does. The real draw, however, is Hayworth. She’s got curves in all the right places and when she turns on the charm, it’s pretty impressive. Aside from her looks, her performance here is also good. She’s likeable in the part and as the lighter half of the film’s first half evolves into the oddly more dramatic and less inspired second half, she’s able to make up for the shortcomings of the writing with pure, unbridled charisma. She is, in short, a joy to behold – especially when she’s doing her act in the bar, of benefit not only to the Marines in the story but the film’s audience as well.

    The movie is nicely shot, using its Hawaiian locations quite nicely. The movie is slick, it shows great technical prowess and expert choreography. The story doesn’t have quite as much bite as you might want it to, Sadie’s past may or may not tie into prostitution, it doesn’t really go there and instead merely hints in that direction. There could and should have been more done with Ferrer’s character. In other versions he is a missionary, that aspect of his moralizing is underplayed in this adaptation. This remains an entertaining watch, however, and while it is messier than it should be in where it goes and how it gets there, the cast save it and make this well worth seeing.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Miss Sadie Thompson is presented on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, framed in its proper 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio in both 2D and 3D versions in 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc. Unfortunately we don’t have a 3D set and can only comment on the 2D version, but thankfully that version looks quite good. You can definitely see how and when 3D would have enhanced this one, especially during the dance scenes. Detail is quite strong here, close ups especially look really good, and the Hawaiian locations used for the shoot really shine here. Skin tones look nice and natural and there’s good texture here as well as strong black levels. Noise reduction and edge enhancement are non-issues and there’s very little in the way of print damage to note. There are a few spots where brightness and contrast are a bit iffy, but otherwise this is a clean, detailed image of a beautifully shot film.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is also of nice quality. The film is reported to have been shot in stereo but those elements have been lost (though stereo would have likely complimented the 3-D effects quite nicely when this originally played theaters!). The single channel track included on the disc, however, gets the job done quite nicely. Dialogue is clean, crisp and clear while the use of music in the film sounds excellent with strong depth to it. There are no problems with any audible hiss nor is there any distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras include a new audio commentary with film historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros. They offer up a good history of the feature as presented in this version, talking up the cast and making some interesting observations about pretty much everyone who appears in front of the camera. They also share some information about the locations and about the production in general. The main focus, or at least one that they come back to time and again, are the different incarnations of the original story – be they printed, filmed or performed live.

    The disc also includes an introduction by Actress Patricia Clarkson that originally appeared on Sony’s DVD release some years back. Rounding out the extras are a 2D trailer for the feature, the film’s isolated score in DTS-HD 2.0 format, static menus and chapter selection. An illustrated color insert booklet includes liner notes from Julie Kirgo that offer a quick history of the picture along with her thoughts on its effectiveness.

    The Final Word:

    Miss Sadie Thompson isn’t a perfect film but it almost doesn’t matter. The locations and the star power afforded the production ensure it makes for fine entertainment and Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release presents the film in excellent shape (in both 2D and 3D versions, no less) and with a few nice extras too.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!