Oh, poor Rita

Miss Sadie Thompson (Curtis Bernhardt, 1953) is a strange looking film, released in 3D but watched on a television at home attributing to it a distorted glare, an unwelcome hypercolour. This was the case with quite a lot of 1950s musicals, especially Hawaiian or ‘exotic’ films. So naturally, I assumed it was going to be a harmless sort of musical comedy, like a Betty Grable or one of the more bland Doris Day pictures.

It was however, I can safely say, entirely unlike anything I expected. A prostitute, Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth) had been censored into a nightclub singer with a hazy past, although she was actually accused of being a prostitute by a (non-denominational) evangelist and criticised for her choices. This religious preacher declares that there is no such thing as moral belief or forgiveness, that instead there is right and wrong, good and evil, and that’s that. Now this is not unheard of. But then he rapes Sadie after convincing her to try and amend her “sins” because, as he says, she’s still filthy. I know this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME and I’ve seen it before, yada yada, but it never ceases to disgust and enrage me. And then, Sadie is pissed (as I would be, too), declares all men to be the same (“thugs”), and momentarily resorts to being a “nightclub singer.”

But the most hardcore thing about Miss Sadie Thompson is that this evangelical prick commits suicide after raping her, and then he is forgiven. Some other dude rants off some stuff about how people aren’t perfect, you can’t expect someone to always and unfailingly practice what they preach. But this complicates everything because the man is being forgiven precisely for what he criticised in the first place – moral grey area.

In conclusion: sometimes macho bravado can really piss me off. And it’s International Women’s Day too! Dudes, just back off.

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About cinemelo

I love to write about film and comment on culture. Hopefully providing insight and interesting thoughts for fellow cultural itinerants.
This entry was posted in censorship, cinema, stars. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Oh, poor Rita

  1. nadine fisher says:

    This sounds like it is based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, called Rain (I think) and certainly more nuanced than the film —and there certainly ain’t no forgiveness. I n fact, the narrator’s sympathies are all with the woman. Interesting how this take is subverted by Hollywood, whether for reasons of prurience, sexism,morality or box office.

    • cinemelo says:

      Yep, it is based on Maugham. But it’s not really “interesting” how it’s been subverted. It’s just what happened back then.
      The thing is that the Censorship Office made this happen and approved it all. But then, Will Hays was a man.

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