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FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clarence Brown
Cast:
Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, George Brent, Brenda Joyce, Nigel Bruce, Maria Ouspenskaya, Joseph Schildkraut, Mary Nash
Writing Credits:
Louis Bromfield (novel, "The Rains Came"), Philip Dunne, Julien Josephson

Synopsis:
In the town of Ranchipur, four people find their lives become entwined by unexpected feelings and events they cannot control. Tom Ransome (George Brent), son of an English earl, is living a painter's life. He is pursed by Brenda Joyce, a flirtatious young English girl who adores him. Lady Esketh (Myrna Loy) is a beautiful bored sophisticated and Tom's former girlfriend. And Major Rama (Tyrone Power) is the dedicated Hindu surgeon who captures her heart. When a catastrophic earthquake and flood bring disaster to India, all their lives are forever transformed by the striking clash between good and evil, duty and forbidden love.

Box Office:
Budget
$2.6 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Stereo
English Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/1/2005

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard
• Still Gallery
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


The Rains Came: Fox Studio Classics (1939)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 30, 2006)

Over the years, many actors have played roles in ethnic groups other than their own. This has led to many absurd sights. To that list we can add Tyrone Power as an Indian for 1939’s The Rains Came.

Set in Ranchipur India, the film introduces us to boozing British artist Tom Ransome (George Brent) and young foreign-trained doctor Major Rama Safti (Power). Disruptions enter their lives due to the separate arrivals of some attractive women. Young Fern Simon (Brenda Joyce) is the late-teenage daughter of missionaries. She wants out of that lifestyle and Ranchipur, and she falls in love with Tom as she tries to get him to take her away from there.

Tom’s own love life comes back to haunt him with the arrival of Lord Albert Esketh (Nigel Bruce) and his wife Lady Edwina (Myrna Loy). Tom and Edwina knew each other back in England. She married the much older Albert solely for his money and cheats on him regularly. She sets her signs on hunky Rama for her next conquest.

All these romantic machinations get a twist when an earthquake and a flood combine to lay waste to Ranchipur. All involved attempt to help the Maharani (Maria Ouspenskaya) nurse the area and inhabitants back to health. The movie follows their loves and other issues.

And it does so in a painfully boring manner. When the flood occurred and turned Rains into a disaster movie, it took me by surprise. I knew literally nothing about this film’s story before I watched it, so this was a completely unexpected element. Initially I wanted to criticize the flick for such an abrupt change of pace, but I decided that wasn’t really fair. After all, Titanic does pretty much the same thing.

However, Titanic explores both romance and disaster in a much more satisfying manner than this muddled mess. For one, at no point did any of the characters engage me. From the drunken artist to the noble, idealistic doctor to the starry-eyed young woman to the bitter babe who married for money, all the characters remain on the level of stock personalities. They never offer anything interesting, and their development follows exactly the expected course. Don’t expect any surprises to come from them.

This means precious little spark to the romance. Frankly, it almost feels like the flood occurs just to break up the tedium of the love stories. This proves mildly successful for a few minutes, as the disaster scenes actually work pretty well. Once we go back to the usual loving gazes and related intrigue, however, the movie returned to its prior blandness.

It doesn’t help that they clearly made Rains on soundstages. If the film had offered some of the natural splendor of India, at least it might have become interesting visually. But that’s not the case, as the production always looks just like one that never left Hollywood.

I remain perplexed about how Fox selects their “Studio Classics” releases. Despite some potential to become powerful and engaging, The Rains Came becomes nothing more than a forgettable piece of schmaltz.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C-/ Bonus C

The Rains Came appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An erratic transfer, this one looked somewhat weak compared to other “Fox Studio Classics” releases.

Sharpness wasn’t one of the main concerns, at least. A little edge enhancement made some wide shots slightly fuzzy. However, the movie usually demonstrated good clarity and definition. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering.

Blacks were deep and dense, but shadows displayed some concerns. More than a few shots were excessively dark, especially during the disaster sequences. Perhaps these ended up so thick because of the effects work, but the negative impression remained.

Print flaws were the biggest concern. Quite a few examples of specks and grit appeared, and I also noticed streaks and other blemishes. During a few sequences, the movie took on a warped, jittery look that proved distracting. Even given the age of Rains, the transfer seemed a little below par.

I felt the same way about the stereo soundtrack of The Rains Came. Like many of these remixes, the audio stayed essentially monaural. The elements may have broadened to the sides slightly, but I didn’t notice any discrete information. The track stayed highly focused on the center.

Audio quality was the main problem, as even for a flick of this one’s vintage, it seemed rough. Speech tended to be brittle and edgy, though the lines usually remained intelligible and acceptably defined. Music was messier. Highs were shrill, and lows were loose and boomy. Effects were a minor factor except for the flood sequence. There they sounded okay, though some distortion occurred. I noticed a little hiss along with pops and clicks. Given the movie’s age, this wasn’t a terrible mix, but it remained lackluster at best.

Heading to the DVD’s extras, the main attraction comes from an audio commentary from film historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They cover the expected basics. They go over general biographies of many involved with the flick and also flesh out production notes such as script development, music, censorship concerns, and effects.

Slide and Birchard cover an appropriate array of subjects, but they do so without much detail. Frankly, this comes across as a fairly logy track. The men discuss the expected topics but lack much fervor and rarely give us rich examinations of the issues. The commentary drags at times, especially during the second half; lots of dead air makes things move even more slowly. You’ll learn some decent basics from this piece but probably won’t find it to be tremendously informative.

A few minor bits fill out the package. We get a bland 11-shot Still Gallery along with some trailers. In addition to the ad for Rains, we find promos for Alexander’s Ragtime Band, In Old Chicago, Inn of the Sixth Happiness and Zorba the Greek.

Maudlin and tedious, The Rains Came bores. It presents dull characters without depth engaged in predictable paths. The mid-movie disaster sequence spices things up, but it goes quickly and leaves us mired in the muck. The DVD suffers from moderately weak picture and audio, and the small set of extras doesn’t amount to much as even the commentary disappoints. I can’t recommend this bland movie and lackluster DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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