January 20, 2014

Things I learned from watching Lewis Milestone's 'Rain' (1932)

Joan Crawford plays prostitute Sadie Thompson in Rain (1932).

Here are some useless tidbits I picked up whilst watching Rain for the first time:

  • the incessant sound of rain falling on tin roofs and soggy mud is oddly comforting,
  • preacher men circa the 1930s were some scary dudes with unbelievably good posture,
  • rowdy, fun-loving men were allowed to slap Joan Crawford's behind without facing retribution,
  • when the rain stops fallin' dead bodies come a crawlin',
  • heavily made-up or made-under, Crawford looked absolutely gorgeous in this film,
  • noble, virtuous women always had eyeglasses and wore their hair in buns,
  • poor Joanie always seemed to be on her knees when photographed in the same scenes with Walter Huston (who played the unbelievably righteous preacher Alfred Davidson), and
  • (SPOILER!) I'm absolutely convinced that said preacher just wanted to have it off with Sadie Thompson (played by Joan Crawford) for the whole bloomin' film, never did, and that's why he finally did himself in and got caught in the natives' fishing net.

Joan Crawford is TCM's star of the month for January 2014 and I've really enjoyed her programming so far - we're half-way through the month already and I almost don't want February to come because I don't want the Crawford films to stop!

I'm eager to know what some of your favourite Crawford films are! Out of the bunch I've seen recently I've got to say that mine are Dancing Lady, Humoresque, The Women, and Grand Hotel. Mildred Pierce is an absolute classic and I've seen it many times before, but the films I've just listed had that special spark in them - they captured my attention right away and I totally fell in love with both Joan and the characters she played instantly (no matter if they were moral women or not).

So, go on and tell me: what are your favourite Crawford films?


  1. I really admire Joan Crawford in "Rain". She can certainly hold her own against Walter Huston!

    "Mildred Pierce" is my all-time fave Crawford role, although I love her in everything.

    1. Yes, she was actually really good playing against Huston - that surprised me too! Mildred Pierce was on last Thursday night, I watched the first few minutes of it and then went to bed lol I've seen it many times before though.

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  3. I'm really enjoying having the opportunity to catch some "new to me" Joan films this month on TCM. My absolute faves are "Humoresque" and "Mildred Pierce." I also am a huge fan of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"...camp that it is.

    "Rain" is a fantastically-acted film. I didn't care for "Miss Sadie Thompson" nearly as much as I do "Rain."

    1. I watched Humoresque for the first time a couple weeks ago and was blown away with Joan's acting. I mean, she was absolutely brilliant in that film! She never fails to impress me and that's why I love watching her films so much.

  4. Very amusing piece, Vanessa! I've always felt that Rain was unappreciated at the time and is too overlooked today. BTW, your comment that the sound of constant rain is oddly comforting reminds me of an amusing story. Back in the 1970s I played Rev. Davidson in a stage production of Rain, and for the sound of constant rain we had a tape recorder playing backstage with a long, endless loop of tape running through the machine and up overhead through a Rube Goldberg system of paper clips (this being in the days before digital sound, or even loop cassettes). The set-up worked pretty well except for one thing: barely 20 yards from our second-story theater ran the elevated freeway of Interstate 5 through Sacramento, and our sound system was forever picking up the CB radio chatter of truckers as they went barreling up or down the highway. Our sound man got pretty good at listening for them and subtly fading the rain out, then back in after they had passed. Every once in a while, though, the chatter would start just as they were about even with us, and our rain-soaked melodrama of 1920s Pago Pago would be suddenly interrupted with "TEN-FOUR, GOOD BUDDY, WHAT'S YER TWENTY?"

    1. BWAHAHAHAHA! That's freaking awesome (or not)! One of the reasons why I find it so funny is because I work in the transportation industry so I'm very accustomed to listening to truckers talking on their mike phones. I'm sorry they ruined your play though :P Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!


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