One woman’s war to be respected!
After taking a four year break from the silver screen for a marriage that didn’t last, star Rita Hayworth (came roaring back with Miss Sadie Thompson, a war movie about singing, intolerance, and a lot of GI’s lusting after a sexy Hollywood icon. The film stars Hayworth as Sadie Thompson, a Hawaiian bar girl who visits a South Pacific island during the war. The island is populated by Marines who lavish Miss Thompson with attention and howls, including Sgt. Phil O’Hara (The Marrying Kind), who is in love with Sadie. The main antagonist of the film is a hard-nosed religious zealot, Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer, The Swarm), who comes to believe that Sadie was a prostitute years ago (and his only “proof” is that he thinks he saw her at a brothel). Eventually Davidson’s righteousness gets the better of him, and his treatment towards Sadie turns dramatic and (eventually) tragic.
Miss Sadie Thompson was based on the W. Somerset Maugham short story “Rain”, which had been adapted numerous times to the big screen (in 1928, 1932, and 1946). Clearly the story was a popular one during Hollywood’s golden age, and in director Curtis Bernhardt’s (Possessed) version things have been scrubbed and sanitized a bit (Sadie is not a hooker but a bar singer in this version), though not to any dulled effect. Miss Sadie Thompson is a movie that coasts along on the performance of Rita Hayworth, who once again proves why she became one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses. Hayworth’s performance here is open and emotional, a stark contrast to her pin-up image. It’s a performance that makes or breaks the film, and she’s spectacular in it.
There are some universal themes running through Miss Sadie Thompson, most strikingly about how people will judge others based on their own fears and insecurities. The most interesting relationship in the film is between Hayworth’s Thompson and Ferrer’s Davidson, a man so religious that he can only seeing blinding judgment, not the woman who lives inside Sadie Thompson. Ferrer is stoic and seething as the judgmental Davidson, a man who is the most damaged out of all the characters in the film. Also of note is Aldo Ray as Sgt. O’Hara, who is in love with Sadie but has a hard time dealing with her sordid and sometimes mysterious past. Also look for a very young Charles Bronson (Death Wish) as a fellow marine.
Miss Sadie Thompson 3D (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen in 1080p high definition in both standard definition and 3D. This Sony title — released by Twilight Time in a limited issue of only 3,000 units — sports a decent transfer that never rises above the descriptor of “mediocre”. I have the feeling that due to the 3D process this image ended up suffering — although the transfer is clear of most imperfections, the image often feels a tad dark and grainy. Compared to other releases form this time period, Miss Sadie Thompson ins’t all that impressive. The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono in English. This is a very front heavy mix that features distinguishable dialogue, music, and effects. Also included are English subtitles.
Extras include an isolated music and effects track, a commentary track by film historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros, an introduction by actress Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile), and an original theatrical trailer for the film.
Miss Sadie Thompson is a mostly forgotten relic of the early 1950s, which is quite a shame because the movie is funny, moving, and filled with solid performances. There are even some musical numbers (sung by Jo Ann Greer, even though it’s Hayworth’s lips moving), which were nominated for an Oscar. The film is presented in both 2D and 3D (it was made at the height of the 3D craze, but released as it was waning), but stick with the standard 2D version. If you haven’t had the chance to check out one of Hayworth’s defining roles, Twilight Time’s release of Miss Sadie Thompson is worth the effort.