Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE (1933). Director: Stephen Roberts.

"If I was the old judge I'd marry her off quick!"

This first film version of William Faulkner's "Sanctuary" concerns the flighty young lady Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins), granddaughter of a judge, who goes out one night with drunken Toddy (William Collier Jr.) and winds up in a dilapidated house occupied by a gang of bootleggers. Although the young and somewhat "slow" Tommy (James Eagles) tries to protect her, she is raped by the brutish if slick "Trigger" (Jack La Rue) after he murders Tommy. A frightened and ashamed Temple goes off with Trigger, and her close friend Stephen (William Gargan) winds up defending Trigger's associate Lee (Irving Pichel) on the charge of murdering Tommy. Can he convince Temple to not think of herself and her reputation and testify as to Lee's innocence? The Story of Temple Drake has little to do with Faulkner's original story -- the ending is completely changed -- but it is well-directed for the most part and features competent (if never outstanding) performances. Hopkins has her moments but is uneven, possibly due to her role. Florence Eldridge plays Lee's wife, and there are appearances by Elizabeth Patterson and Grady Sutton. Photographed by Karl Struss, who has one scene in complete darkness except for the lighted tip of Trigger's cigarette. Remade in 1961 as Sanctuary.

Verdict: Rather unpleasant all told. **1/2.

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