Blu-Ray Disc Review: The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

In 1933, Paramount Pictures released The Story of Temple Drake, an unusually frank melodrama that depicted a brutal sexual assault and its aftermath, with special attention paid to the reputation of the well-liked party girl named in the title. Released during that brief, free-wheeling period before the industry began enforcing its production code to clamp down on screen sex and violence, The Story of Temple Drake took pains to show how a woman could fall prey to sexual predators through no real fault of her own. It also illustrated in detail her downward psychological spiral, fueled, in large part, by a well-founded fear of the opprobrium of others. Just last week, in an interview recorded for The New York Times during Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial, reporter Megan Twohey asked the defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno, whether she had ever been sexually assaulted. “I have not,” Rotunno answered, “because I would never put myself in that position.” Twohey was stunned; the conversation suddenly took on a different tone. Rotunno’s response is a textbook example of the ways that privilege blinds people to reality. It must be comforting to believe that you haven’t been raped because you’re just too darned smart to be raped, but it’s also delusional, not to mention hugely condescending to legions of sexual-assault victims who never requested their trauma.

Read the rest of this review at Film Freak Central.

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