Friday, April 13, 2018

The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

Director: Stephen Roberts

Writers: Oliver H.P. Garrett, William Faulkner, Maurine Dallas Watkins

Composers: Karl Hajos, Bernhard Kaun

Starring: Miriam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack La Rue, Forence Eldridge, Guy Standing, Irving Pichel, Jobyna Howland, William Collier Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You won't even tell your husband the story-but you'll never-never forget it

Plot: Temple Drake is a Southern belle who leads men on with her sexuality but usually leaves them wanting. She's loved by lawyer Stephen Benbow, whom she likes but doesn't love. While out carousing with one of her beaus, she finds herself stranded with a gang of bootleggers, one of whom, Trigger, rapes her and makes her his sex slave. When another man is accused of a murder Trigger committed, Stephen defends him and sets out to find Trigger. But he isn't prepared for whom he finds with Trigger, or what she's become.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I can see how this would've been shocking back in the day.  It has one of the earliest and most effective (especially for its time) rape scenes I've seen, as far as 1930s rapes go, that is.  The lights go out and there's a horrific scream.  Trigger (La Rue) does the deed.  Jack La Rue sometimes comes across as menacing and at others, macho silly.  In other words he took the role a little too seriously and took it over the top.  There was a nice moment when he's going to harass Temple (wonderfully played by Miriam Hopkins) again and his face takes up the entire screen making it even more effective.  After Temple leaves the posh party with a drunken guy who wants to get her liquored up so he can get into her pants.  He crashes the car.  She's thrown from the vehicle and the scene feels a little strange but in a good way.  A couple of strange men show up in the shadows.  At first I thought that Temple and her man are dead and that Death has come to collect them.  It really seemed that way for almost the entire sequence but then she's taken to a cabin in the woods and that theory goes by the wayside.  At this point the picture goes into a different direction for a while and then another in the final act after Temple herself has committed a crime and has to face the music.  Say, speaking of music, until the final fifteen minutes, this flick has way too much music.  It's unusual for me to say that but it's true.  The score is almost constant.  Sometimes I thought that maybe it was source music (music from the radio, live band, etc.) but that was only the case some of the time.  It was distracting as there were a few scenes that would've benefited from less or even no music at all.  It's a quick picture at about 71 minutes and it is an interesting artifact of its time. 

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