I had heard that Walter Houston did not get along at all with Crawford in Rain. Actually, I like Crawford's "Rain" much better than the Rita Hayworth remake ("Miss Sadie Thompson").
Of all the Walter Houston roles, this one was his most wooden. Also, it was probably a characteristic of W Somerset Maugham to overbloat certain actions from his character creations.
In Rain, Houston uses his religious and political influence to drive Crawford into a corner. Crawford is left with no choice than to seek a real religious experience. This is denied her by Houston, who starts out to mentor the poor girl and for the most part she accepts that he is sincere- Only to be betrayed by him when he allows himself to be overcome with momentary, what would the word be, certainly not lust, but a kind of madness, to which he repents and kills himself.
First off, I find the Houston character beyond my belief, I don't believe he is actually any kind of spiritual person, just a religious and political reprobate who uses religion like soldiers use machine guns and to much the same result.
I do not know if that was the way Maugham wrote it, or if Maugham's writing was ripped to bits by numerous Hollywood rewrites. Myself, I do not believe Houston, I do not believe any of his platitudes, and I also do not believe that ANY man would acquire this madness I speak of - For Joan Crawford or any character she portrays.
However, if Rain is considered as Joan pretending to be someone she is not in the first place, and that is how I accept her in the character, then, I believe HER role as Sadie: However, Houston's subsequent insane actions still make no sense.
In the later "Ms Sadie Thompson" this is reversed, I wholly believe that the character portrayed by Rita Hayworth would and could cause a man of the cloth to be overcome with madness, even temporary (In both films this is suggested by the "Alfred Davidson" character not being able to live up to that he had tried to do to Sadie Thompson) and commit suicide.- I clearly do NOT see any man doing that over Joan Crawford or the Sadie played by Joan. Over Rita, yes.
On the other hand, in The Women, I wholly am compelled to believe that Crawford would connive in the way she did to steal Norma Shearer's husband- And unfortunately this is the public and private image of Joan Crawford that became popular.