Somerset Maugham purists might as well look elsewhere than Miss Sadie Thompson for a satisfying version of the author's tale of carnal and spiritual lust. Thanks to the Production Code (and who knows what other outside forces), Sadie is nothing more than a late-in-her-career Rita Hayworth vehicle, with the added "bonus" of 3-D thrown in. Mind you, if you're going to take a ride in a vehicle, then Hayworth is a mighty fine person to have behind the wheel. Of course, even this screen goddess needs to have an engine with some sort of power in it, and Sadie is sadly lacking in cylinders. The source material has been bowdlerized, which doesn't help; but the lifeless dialogue and cardboard characters with which the cast have been saddled make matters worse. José Ferrer doesn't seem to have his heart in his work, and Aldo Ray is simply unbelievable. That leaves Hayworth, in great form, to carry the picture with her magnetism, personality, and sensuality. These come through most effectively in the handful of musical numbers, especially the incredible "The Heat Is On," one of the most blazingly erotic dance segments to be put on the screen. Give Hayworth the chance to set the screen on fire and she certainly delivers; it can't raise Miss Sadie Thompson to great art, but it does make it memorable.
by Craig Butler review