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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TAKE ONE, TWO, THREE: The Lady is a Tramp





Some of our best films are adaptations of famous novels: Gone with the Wind, Double Indemnity, Ian Fleming's 007 Series, etc. During the Golden Studio Era, when a producer wanted a dramatic story with punch and passion, he turned to W. Somerset Maugham. Bette Davis had Maugham's genius to thank for two of her most popular roles in cinematic versions of both Of Human Bondage and The Letter. Gene Tierney embodied one of his venomous villainesses in The Razor's Edge. Greta Garbo behaved naughtily then piously for him in The Painted Veil. His work was written, adapted, then re-written and re-adapted several times throughout cinematic history, including re-makes of the aforementioned pieces. However, one particular story has been directed and performed in such vastly different and distinctive ways that it is well worth investigating. His tumultuous tale "Miss Thompson," later retitled "Rain," hit book stands in 1921 and enthralled readers around the world with its themes of sex, religion, and torrential downpour. It didn't take Hollywood long to smell an equally cinematic sensation, with emphasis on the "sin."


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Gloria proves why she's a star in her Maugham piece.

The 1928 offering, silent film Sadie Thompson, stars none other than Gloria Swanson as the title character. Looking her most beautiful in a visually hypnotic film directed by Raoul Walsh, one's heart breaks with the knowledge that at this height of artistry, the land of sound was about to enter cinema and send us back to technological kindergarten. The movie opens aboard a boat docked in Pago Pago. One by one, we are introduced to the key characters, who are asked to write a quotation describing their outlook on life. Missionary Alfred Davidson (Lionel Barrymore) writes of the importance of "reform." His wife (Blanche Friderici) writes of "righteousness." Fellow passenger Dr. Angus McPhail (Charles Lane) writes of the importance of "tolerance." Finally, we meet the spunky Sadie, who offers her own personal rendition of, essentially, make love while the sun shines: "Smile, Bozo, smile!" From the outset, Walsh sets us up with the realization that this film is going to be about people and how their different outlooks and lifestyles can, at best, flavor life and, at worst, cause a dangerous friction that instigates natural disaster. The natural disaster in this film is rain, which, almost as soon as the boat docks, begins to shoot from the sky like daggers.

The whole company is forced to disembark and remain on the island of Tutuila, because the boat has been quarantined for small pox. The "plague" has arrived, but just who has brought it remains a mystery. When the main characters are thrown into closer contact at the lodgings of trader Joe Horn (James A. Marcus), Davidson becomes certain that the source is Sadie. A solemn meal between the Davidsons and Dr. & Mrs. McPhail is interrupted by the lively Sadie and her quickly made Marine friends, who play loud jazz music in her room and enjoy themselves in general. "Fun" and "Sin" are essentially synonyms to Davidson. When Sadie emerges from her bedroom, surrounded by the eager Marines, Davidson's eyes hit her with a ferocity that is difficult to describe as either hate, fear, or desire. Since we all preach the hardest against the things we fear the most, Davidson's creeping sexuality, as instigated by Sadie, evokes the missionary's wrath. He is certain that she is one of those "girls" from San Francisco. A prostitute! God knows, all sexual, lively women are whores, so he makes it his goal to "save her," or rather castrate her from her natural passion for life. (Gloria looks her man-eating loveliest, left).

Meanwhile, Sadie is having the time of her life, surrounded by fawning soldiers who haven't seen an American girl, nor one so gorgeous, in a long time. She cozies up quickly to Sgt. Tim O'Hara (Walsh in his last acting role, right), who is somehow different from the others. The duo don't draw up much heat, but they have an almost immediate rapport and affection that is real, if obviously more intensely felt by the male party. Sadie isn't heartless, though. She is heading away from a chaotic past to a respectable job offer at a steamship company. You can tell she's "been around" in the quiet moments that Walsh allows her to have-- alone in her room, she tries to brush off her dirty fur and counts the pins that she's saved from all the servicemen she's known. She doesn't add O'Hara's pin to her trophies, and because of this, we know he is already special to her. In this, we realize that the jovial front she puts on is an act... but not a total one. She possesses sadness but is not governed by it. She has hope-- a hope that lies across the sea in a better life. Davidson interprets this as ignorance. He even goes so far to say of the locals, "I actually have to teach them what sin is!" He, in effect, is the Devil, who comes into Eden and offers an apple of shame that no one was even hungry for. Is sin "sin" if no one's getting hurt? It is the missionary that enacts evil in this story.  We know this due to Barrymore's physical embodiment of sinister judgment. We too know that Sadie is a sainted Eve, if for no other reason than the monogram of her initials "ST" plastered across her breast. (In certain scenes it looks like she is sporting a tattoo as well, but I couldn't quite make it out).

Davidson comes to Sadie and offers her salvation, which she first tries to politely refuse (left) but then, insulted,  she rages against him in all her 4'11" fury-- and believe me, this pint-sized lady grows stories when she's provoked! He grabs her in a sexually dominating way, forcing her to her knees, and commands her to repent. Sadie refuses to take the bait, and Davidson thus connives with the local governor to have her deported back to San Francisco. O'Hara continues to step in as her knight in shining armor, offering her an even better dream of a life together in Sydney, but when she begs the governor to let her go to Australia instead of California, he holds firm. Without Davidson's blessing-- and his own political safety-- the governor cannot grant escape. Sadie is trapped. Another altercation ensues between Sadie and Davidson, and it comes out that Sadie cannot return to San Francisco, not just because of her promiscuous past, but because she has been implicated in a murder, of which she maintains her innocence. Davidson argues that she must return to California, and thus prison, to suffer for her sins. For this, Sadie calls him a "hypocrite" who has no concept of how she has already suffered.

Then, the shift. Sadie returns angrily to her room, alone, without her music or Marine friends to distract her. Outside, the rain continues to pour, and through her window, it looks like she is on board a sinking ship as the water beats against her window. Walsh produces a fantastic, terrifying fantasy sequence, in which Sadie imagines herself imprisoned-- without freedom, the flame of her life is snuffed out. Overcome with fear, she howls up to Mr. Davidson as if from the bowels of Hell, and he comes to her again with his demands of repentance. Struck by his power in her vulnerable state, she finally submits to him. Gone is the lively woman of vim and vigor; in her place is a penitent nun, who throws her make-up and baubles away. Davidson now has complete control, and he thrives on it. Sadie will return to San Francisco and fulfill his self-professed prophecy as the new Son of Man. O'Hara tries to win Sadie back to her senses, begging her to come with him to Sydney, but her head is so confused that she isn't certain which angel whispering in her ear is the good or the bad (right). She chooses Davidson.

The erotic charge of Barrymore during these final scenes is electric. Sadie is his triumph. He has annihilated her light and made it his own. It excites him. He tells her that she no longer has to return to San Francisco, but when she still opts for spiritual salvation, it only increases his desire. She has become his Saint, his great treasure. He wants her, and he savagely takes her-- behind closed doors, of course. Rape is about power, domination, and submission. Sadie was a sexual threat to Davidson, and he has finally had his vengeance, but the price is his soul. After this great betrayal, Barrymore's dead body is pulled ashore in a fishing net, feet first, and it is reported that he has killed himself by slitting his own throat. Cut to Sadie, who has reverted completely back to her old self-- dressed to the gills and referring to men as "Pigs!" She has paid the price for her blind faith, for it was not in God but in a man with a God complex. She is disgusted with herself and with the traitor that manipulated her out of her reason and her strength. Yet, when she hears that Davidson has killed himself, she shows that she still possesses the humanity that Davidson tried to steal, for she pities him. She forgives him for his sins, an ability that the self-professed spiritual man lacked-- he did not show her such kindness. Sadie, as the true Saint, is rewarded for her compassion and goodness-- a lamb in wolves' clothing-- and she is able to sail off into the sunset to Sydney, where she will await Sgt. O'Hara and their heavenly life together.

This has been hailed as the greatest adaptation of Maugham's classic, and after watching it, one can understand why. The poetry and vitality of the visual artistry and the impassioned performances of Barrymore and Swanson in particular are perfect in their beauty and horror. The story was too good to let go of, however. In 1932, before the production code came creeping in, there was another chance to interpret this story and explore it in a new, and hopefully bolder, way.


The tigress peers out from her jungle.

The film this time would be titled Rain, and from the get-go, we see why. The film's opening is filled with ominous storm clouds and threatening bullets of rain that interrupt the serenity of placid, crystal surfaces with chaotic splashes and ripples. The violent storm increases, and the earth is turned to mud, as the Marines sludge through and make quickly disappearing tracks. The theme this time is therefore an investigation of nature itself, or rather how human nature mirrors that of the natural world. Human beings are simply the vessels of their own private storms-- disasters waiting to happen. For this reason, when we meet the prime characters for the first time, they are all faceless. Instead, we are met with their passports and the sounds of their voices, which are indicators enough. Mrs. Davidson is a bit stuffy, Dr. McPhail seems pleasant, and this time, Mr. Davidson, played superbly by Walter Huston, too doesn't seem like an all-out villain. He makes polite conversation, and when the camera reveals him for the first time, he stands in stark contrast to the always maniacally vibrating Barrymore of the former film. For this reason, his character will be more fascinating to watch. His self-destruction becomes more of an inner battle, so deeply is he steeped in self-denial-- the denial of his primal self.

Sadie's entrance is, of course, the most important. We see her hands grasp the edges of her cabin door one at a time, both bedecked with garish, spangled bracelets. Then her two feet emerge from the door, heeled and wide apart in a warrior stance. Then, we see her face, and Dear Greek God, is it scary! This is not the lightly flitting Gloria Swanson-- vibrant but delicate-- of the past film; this is Joan Crawford in the beginning of her transformation from the delicate ingenue of her youth to the protective mask of exaggerated eyebrows and lips that we see in her later career (left). Lipstick is smeared across her mouth in a giant, clowning frown  (allegedly her idea), and her large eyes are emphasized by the thick lashes that weigh down the lids of her world-weary peepers. This woman, with cigarette planted firmly in her mouth, is tired. Tired of it all. She's not putting on any pretenses. This world is bull sh*t, and she knows it. She can barely even summon the strength to open her mouth to form words, but instead communicates in deep-throated mumbles and slurs. But, all in all, she's not a bad gal. She still makes nice with the people that are nice to her, like the Marines and Horn, the latter played comically by Guy Kibbee. But she still knows her place. When the quarantine (for cholera) keeps her ashore, she personally quarantines herself in her room, away from the religious Davidsons whom she knows want no part of her.

The same moment of introduction between cat and mouse occurs. Sadie makes a ruckus in her room, and at first, the more forgiving Davidson, as played by Huston, makes little of it in a "Live and let live" kind of way. But then... he sees her. Sadie exits her room with her gang of soldiers, and Davidson peers over his shoulder, taking her in deeply and slowly. Here, his anger is not as abruptly ignited as Barrymore's; instead, Sadie's image is subtly impregnated in his soul, and it will take time for Davidson's fear of her and his own desires to give birth to the wrath that is to come. The supporting cast is given more life here. Horn and McPhail have many conversations about how hypocritical the world is, including Horn's decision to retreat "back to nature," because of the restrictions of more civilized life. McPhail too, though nasally played by Kendall Lee, is vocal in his dislike of Davidson's "Thou shalt not enjoy thyself" viewpoint. Sadie's suitor is unfortunately played by William Gargan, an overgrown child who comes across as a doofus (right)-- no match for the man's man that Walsh portrayed in the previous film. At no point in time is it clear why a worldly dame like Sadie is even interested in this O'Hara, except perhaps to amuse herself at his ignorance.

In many ways, this film falls far short of its predecessor. Despite some impressive camera-work and brilliant cinematography, the film becomes steeped in camp and is proof of why Joan Crawford remains the cult classic leading lady she is. (Perhaps this is why director Lewis Milestone remained uncredited???). The movie's salvation comes via the performances of the two leads and the slow way they wrap around each other in their various attempts at manipulation, the clincher being that Sadie does not know until too late that she is the mouse and Davidson the snake. You have to hand it to Joan that beneath her overdone appearance, her luminous eyes still convey the despair her exterior seeks to hide. Initially, Davidson approaches Sadie with stoic control and alleged compassion when he offers the gift of her salvation. Sadie takes the opportunity to both show her truly vulnerable self and to hopefully use this man's kindness to her advantage. Yet, she is unable to seduce him with either her sexiness or girlishness the way she is the other guys (left); Davidson is not enticed by feminine power but by the destruction of it. The only person that seems aware of the danger to come is Mrs. Davidson (Beulah Bondi), who early on sees her husband mark his prey and says: "I wouldn't be in that girl's shoes for anything in the world." This statement echoes in the ears-- what evils has she seen in her husband already? 

Again, Davidson tries to woo Sadie to the Lord, which she finds comical at first, but when he starts making those threats of deportation, her anger rears its head. The low-angle/high-angle camera shots emphasize the growing power of Davidson over the weakening Sadie, who first promises to behave and be "quiet as a mouse," if he promises to leave her alone, but later retaliates against his attempts to possess her soul: "You want another scalp!" She sees that despite appearances, he is the true savage. She won't submit and refuses to fall to her knees before him. Both are wild beasts battling their natures out-- their need for independence and control. The rain outside becomes even more isolating during their epic battles, as if it more thoroughly needs to wash away whatever violence is being incurred, but so deep are the implications that it cannot easily remove the stains. As Sadie's self-conviction cools, her normally sound reason and bull sh*t detector start to malfunction. Her will is weakening, and soon the obvious signs of Davidson's evil are not so easily read. They intimidate her into obedience instead of defense. After she asks the ineffectual McPhail for help, she strolls around Horn's porch and is greeted with the shadows of Davidson and his wife. They are praying. It is horrifying. Horn's wife refers to Davidson as a "witch doctor." They are dangerous, shadow people, and most certainly not of God.

Finally, Davidson's great, orgasmic moment comes. After he confronts Sadie for her early days of whoring in Honolulu and demands that she return to face her jail time, she defies him only to be met by his cold stance and steely voice spitting out the Lord's prayer (right). Despite herself, she finds herself mouthing his words like a puppet. As he stands on the stairs before her, she falls to her knees, and in the throes of ecstasy, his hands reach out to brace the banisters on either side of him. Herein they consummate their relationship as tutor and pupil. The fumbling O'Hara returns to help, but his innocent, baby-like nature is no match for Sadie's defeated she-wolf nor Davidson's tyrannical control over her. Sadie is such a devotee at this point that when not in Davidson's presence, she is lifeless-- although much better looking without all that make-up. Whenever Davidson appears, Sadie animates, her eyes growing large and soaking in the wonder of her true God-- the only man who dared to lead her back to righteousness. (One is reminded of the mutated loyalties of the Manson family). What follows this allegiance is their final, fateful meeting, where all of Sadie's faith in him, and man in general, is crushed. Watching the locals perform their tribal songs, the pounding of the drums sounds out Davidson's own lust and leads him back to Sadie's door, where-- after offering her freedom-- she instead chooses to remain his disciple. As the boat to San Francisco approaches, it looks more like a menacing shark aka Jaws than Sadie's vehicle to salvation, but she still wants to take it. In refusing escape, she has passed the final test and sealed her doom. Now barely unable to contain himself, Davidson follows the unsuspecting Sadie into her bedroom-- walking through the doorway of beads like a man entering the jungle of his own torment. We are left to imagine the example of vengeful lust that occurs.

The result is the same. Milestone copies Walsh's retrieval of Davidson's body from the ocean. O'Hara rushes to Sadie, hoping that she will now consent to go with him to Sydney. We have come full circle. Sadie emerges from her doorway as in the beginning, with both hands clutching violently to the frame, her feet stepping out, and her gawdy-awful face telling us that she has returned to the world of "Pigs!" But, she too forgives Davidson his trespasses when she learns of his sad fate. His sacrificial act reminds her of the last vestige of her own humanity. As the rain dries up, the sun pours in. The evil in man's nature has been destroyed and the good has triumphed. For this reason, Sadie can escape to Sydney with O'Hara (though why, I can hardly imagine.) The world has been wiped clean. The End is a The Beginning of a new world, one where Goodness is the true measure of Godliness. Though a slightly hack-job of a film, this one is worth seeing for all Joan devotees and those who love good-bad movies.


Rita Hayworth's Sadie tries to muck it as best she can in a land of men.

As the opening credits started to role on 1953's Miss Sadie Thompson, I feared that things were only going to get worse in the world of Maugham. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Curtis Bernhardt's take on the Sadie saga. You can hardly blame me for my initial misgivings. The film opens with footage of beaches, palm trees, and jovial harmonica music. Immediately, I was certain that I was about to see some sort of Beach Blanket Bingo meets Gidget fiasco. Then, Bernhardt pulls the switch. The source of the music is found to be a lonesome Marine, soon joined by three of his fellow soldiers, including Phil O'Hara (Aldo Ray), who come out of the ocean after a swim looking more perturbed than happy. Pvt. Edwards (a delightfully menacing Charles Bronson) spits a mouthful of water right into the musician's face with a contemptuous smile. The message is clear: all is not well in paradise. We too get a bit of the age-old idiom "Boys with be boys." And that is exactly what this film is about: Men-- their nature, their desires, their makeups, and their variations. When Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth) comes riding up on a speed-boat from her soon quarantined ship, the local soldiers surround her like hungry apes beating their chests. It's been years since they've seen an American girl. They're horny, what can ya' say?

Rita's Sadie is not intimidated. In fact, she thrives on the overpowering male energy. She loves being the belle of the ball, and she knows how to use her sexuality to get what she wants. But she's not vindictive or malicious. In fact, she's a sweetheart. While sensual, her attention to the boys is more motherly than anything else. She wants to make them happy, and she literally sprinkles sunshine wherever she goes. For this reason, the men continue to fight over her, but O'Hara, who looks more like her son than a suitable lover, begins paying particular, protective attention. The thing is, Sadie needs no protection nor help from anyone. She's got this racket cornered. This is Hayworth in one of her best performances. Gone is the big-eyed girl of musical comedies. Here, she is a woman. Sweaty, unapologetic, dominant, and even a bit trashy, she is always confident and in control. Men throw her around on the dance floor like a ragdoll, but she pushes them away and playfully takes center stage in "This is how it's done, boys," fashion (left). She sings and dances alone (yes, it's a musical), both maintaining their desire for her and her power over them. Her independence is too illuminated financially. Whenever someone offers to pay for something, she says that she "always pays her own way." She's not looking for handouts, and she too protects her new friends, whom she doesn't want to see get into trouble for her sake. None of the men see her resilience, of course. They see a pair of legs, a possession, or a sweet little thing, depending on the guy.Their egos continually deny her identity. She lets them respond as they will and exists in her own phenomenal, private universe. This woman has clearly lived a life, but she still has spirit. Whenever a bad situation should rear its head, she offers up an old Japanese saying, "Pft, I should care!"

She should care, because this spark plug quickly acquires the disapproving attention of Davidson, this time played by Jose Ferrer. We see more fully that the source of the world's problems lie with the faults of man and his near-sightedness. Tragedy doesn't enter the picture until Davidson's eyes land on Sadie, who this time is flirting with the Marines at a local substitute for a bar. Right after Davidson's sexual gaze hits Sadie, the rain starts. He, like the others, doesn't see "Miss Sadie Thompson," he sees a sexual play-thing-- one that intimidates his religious laws and his own lust. Unlike Joan's Sadie, who feared the Davidson crowd, or Gloria's, who was ambivalent toward it, Rita's Sadie is welcoming. She makes no apologies for who she is-- life is a party and everyone is invited! She's making a fresh start and nothing is going to trip her up. We do see quiet moments of reflection in her. For example, when the Marines bring up The Emerald Club of Honolulu, the same place from whence Sadie is fleeing, she grows quiet, distant, then snippy. But, any past transgressions are not dwelled upon in length. Sadie wipes unhappiness away like dust off her shoulder. In an early, short song, Sadie sings about the classic three monkeys who "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil." This is a policy she lives by, perhaps too strongly. She shuts her eyes to the past and her own flaws, as well as the evil intentions of others. This is a feeling Hayworth could totally identify with, since compartmentalization was the source of her own personal survival. Davidson lives by the same policy, except to "see no evil" he simply seeks to destroy anything he deems evil so that he doesn't run the risk of seeing it anymore. Thus, Sadie is his mark-- he must kill her to kill his own desire. In this way, he shuts his eyes instead of allowing them to absorb the whole picture. (The duo have their first confrontation, right).

Not all the men on the island are bad guys. Mr. Horn (Harry Bellaver) and Dr. McPhail (Russell Collins) are both wise men who have evolved past primal urges to a place of reason and compassion. They have seen the world, sewn wild oats, admitted their flaws, and embraced them. They have nothing to run from, thus they do not see Sadie as a threat. They are humanly protective, whereas the other men are brutal. They look at her as a daughter as opposed to a sexual toy. Dr. McPhail jumps to Sadie's defense constantly against Davidson in some (often too-on-the-nose) dialogue about the battle between Davidson's invented faith and sense of "wrong" and McPhail's ironically more subjective, scientific reasoning. Even O'Hara is a kind of villain in his immaturity. He tries, very unstealthily, to get into Sadie's pants (left), but he's at least got enough manners to take "no" as an gentleman. Ray is not wholly bad in the role, and his screechy voice mixed with his fighter's physique makes his overgrown boy quite believable if not wholly desirable. Sadie is trapped in the wilderness with all these men and their green uniforms, and it is only her charm and wit that keep her from becoming dinner. But she cannot forever evade Davidson, who first chastises her for going out alone with the Marines, where she will be the only "white" woman (gasp), and later confronts her about her Emerald Club days.

In film, women are constantly made to pay the price for male sexuality. In this case, Sadie is the sacrificial lamb (her attempts to cool off only serve to turn up the heat, right). After she refuses to repent to Davidson, she is humiliated by man's hypocrisy. O'Hara tries, again unsuccessfully, to come to her rescue (oh, the vanity of the male ego), only to be met with the news from Davidson's mouth that Sadie was one of those "Honolulu girls." Sadie knows what is coming, and in waiting for O'Hara's return, she bursts into violent tears, which her "hear no evil" mentality fights to contain. When he returns to her, weathered and angry, she returns his gaze like a drowning flower, steeling herself for a final submergence. One piece of truth, one bite of knowledge, and O'Hara's love for her is destroyed, and his offer of Sydney is off the table. When Sadie resisted O'Hara's earlier sexual advances, he rewarded her chastity with an offer of marriage, but now that he knows she is "dirty," he turns his back on her. Such is the female plight. We must continually avoid the minefield of male sexual tests: if you submit, you get to have sex but lose the ring, and if you're good, you get to marry but probably won't have any fun. Davidson's deep embarrassment comes with the fact that this game was twisted on him, and he ignorantly gave his heart to a whore. This was totally her fault, of course, and now she must suffer. This confrontation evokes from Rita one of her most painful onscreen moments. She tells O'Hara  that when he fell for her, she felt like he was an angel from heaven sent "to take [her] by the hand," but now he slaps that hand away. After being treated like scum by yet another man, her faith in all men is crushed, until Davidson strategically uses the opportunity to accept the hand O'Hara shunned. In effect, this battle over Sadie was a possessive one, with both Davidson and O'Hara trying clumsily to mark their territory. When Davidson wins and enters into his prayers about "thy rod and thy staff," the phallic implications are clear.

After Davidson alters Sadie into the softer student of his enforced rhetoric, he yet again becomes unable to contain his inner, carnal howl. The erotic music and dancing of the locals sends him back to Sadie's door. She has received word that O'Hara is "sorry" and that he still wants her to go to Sydney and wait for him, but it is too late. She has seen the monster in him and cannot forget. Her savior Davidson arrives and again tells her that she is free to go if she wants, but she accepts her fate and the boat back to prison. Turned on, Davidson draws nearer: finally, she is his. Or is she? She draws back when he begins purring in her ear, which erupts his ego-- an echo of the fact that they are on a volcanic island. "Are you scared of me?!" Rejecting him sexually only serves to awaken all of his repressed urges-- apparently he doesn't yet hold all the cards, which is why he jumps to rape to claim final domination and control. This rape scene is the most graphic of all three movies, with Ferrer pouncing on a writhing Hayworth and knocking her to the floor, where one desperate hand claws at a curtain. Her red nails scream violence before the camera fades to black.

The next day, O'Hara rushes to Horn's place to tell Sadie the news of Davidson's suicide, hoping that she has not yet left on the boat. At first, she appears to be gone, but then the sound of hopping music can be heard coming from her room. Not only is she still there, but the real Sadie is back. She wants no piece of O'Hara at first, partly because he humiliated and rejected her, but mostly because she was just raped by another-- yet again-- "Pig!" Then, Davidson's suicide reawakens the mother in her, and she is left with feelings of pity, which counteract her anger. Here is the film's dividing line between men and women. Women are born knowing or willing to know-- hence Eve's embrace of the apple. Men resist learning-- knowing-- because it puts restrictions on their thoughtless actions. It takes longer for them to be schooled. Women, like Sadie, can compromise, adjust to times and circumstances, and give themselves sacrificially as martyrs when necessary, but men take longer to get to the same place. Davidson learned his lessons too late, and his final sacrifice was his life. O'Hara has luckily caught up. His childish illusions of right and wrong, virgin and whore, have been eradicated, and in their place is truth. True emotion and regret grow from this, and now he is wizened like the Doctor and Horn. He is a man that can offer himself and his unwavering support to Sadie. Sex is no longer a dangerous line between them, but-- one hopes-- an act that will finally bring them closer together. As Sadie rides off to Sydney, the audience is left hoping that these two will meet again, bite into this apple of fuller human knowledge together, and be rewarded instead of shamed.


"The Heat is On!" Hayworth takes center stage in the movie's big number,
and proves that she can act.

Maugham said he was proud that it was in an adaptation of one of his books that Rita Hayworth proved that she could act. And boy did she! From the moment she steps ashore, she is a three-dimensional, complicated woman who runs the gamut of emotions and back again. Proud, strong, ashamed, weak, angry, sorrowful, and fully alive, Rita Hayworth makes Sadie completely her own with no stone left unturned in her resistant, then repentant, then redeemed soul. The film, post-code, was quite scandalous, especially in its originally released 3D form, and it was banned in several states after it was defamed by-- you guessed it-- religious groups. Clearly, they didn't take the moral of the story to heart. All three films are fascinating investigations of morality, judgment, sexuality, hypocrisy, and the pain that comes with maturity-- life is no fairy tale. Human beings are destructive beings that seek to destroy themselves or each other when life becomes too confusing, too difficult to box-in or label, or too tempting. Does one obey the rules or break them to obtain happiness? Which solution offers the true Eden? The only answer these films seem to offer is not to jump to conclusions-- not to judge "lest ye be judged." You never know: sometimes the Whore at whom you cast stones just may be the Virgin.

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