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  • When I was younger & first saw this movie, what caught my eye was the stage-y production, the over-ripe acting- I was wrong. It's funny, but being a late 30-something divorcee with my own self-esteem issues, I now watch this movie & marvel at its depth.

    This is a movie about so much more than a con man, an old maid and people stuck and unable to change. It's really about loving yourself. We've all heard the saying that you have to love yourself before someone else can love you. And that is what this movie is about. Believing in yourself even when that's the hardest thing. It's really the crux of the movie.

    The casting is actually perfect. I cannot imagine anyone else as Starbuck. Burt Lancaster's magnetism and on-screen "je ne ce qua" and Hepburn's radiant simplicity are a match made in heaven. They compliment each other very well. The supporting cast is also well done. Holliman's exuberance is contagious and the sweetly supporting father and no nonsense brother Noah are well done but not over done.

    I highly recommend this movie. Give it a chance & suspend your disbelief- that's part of what going to the movies is about.

    P.S. Several people mentioned the last scene with Lancaster riding into the rain as being over done, cheesy or whatever. Yet it's just that kind of imagery that does indeed stick with you after the movie. It may seem overblown the first time, yet upon subsequent viewings, I love the effusive and memorable affect it has on the viewer. :)
  • rsjs61927 August 2005
    The skeptical reviewers miss the point. In fact, they take the position of Lizzie herself before she begins to believe in herself.

    That some of this movie appears hokey, over-the-top and unbelievable is perfect. It requires the same leap of faith for the movie viewer as the characters must take in the story.

    The script for this movie is brilliantly written and as timely today as it ever was. The casting and acting are wonderful.

    This movie makes a very valuable point: It's not a con when you help someone believe in herself. You do something wonderful when you help another find hope, faith and love.
  • hildacrane4 January 2006
    This movie always leaves me smiling. Sure, it's not a masterpiece of cinema, and one has to be willing to go with the staginess of it (it was, after all, a play originally), but there's such an exuberance to the performances and gentleness to the story that the movie wins you over. In fact maybe there is something appropriate about the obvious artifice of the sets, since the movie is about the roles that people play and the dreams that they cherish. Certainly Lancaster's charming con man is a master of the orotund and theatrical spiel. Another haunting Alex North score that occasionally recalls some of the poignant themes that he wrote for "A Streetcar Named Desire."
  • N. Richard Nash adapted his play for the silver screen. Directed by Joseph Anthony, this is a wonderful insight into the core of human emotion. A hard glimpse at the look of low self esteem.

    Katherine Hepburn plays Lizzie Curry, a young woman that lives with her father and brothers in a dusty prairie town. She is led to believe she will become an old maid. She of course has more brains than beauty and her emotions tell her that she needs to become a "woman".

    Enter Bill Starbuck, played aptly by Burt Lancaster; Starbuck is a con man constantly on the move bilking his way through life. He convinces the Curry family he can end the drought by making it rain. He ends up in the barn with Miss Lizzie. Now she feels a new world has opened up to her.

    Deputy File is too shy to tell Lizzie of his interest in her; until he finds Starbuck with her and wants to arrest him for his previous bad deeds. Lizzie has to make a big decision between the side of law and order or a life chasing dreams with a wanderer.

    This movie deserves to be called a classic. The deep human element and the diverse relationships within the characters makes for a very interesting movie. Scenery and language may seem at times a bit hokey; but the realism is there. Great movie.

    Besides Hepburn and Lancaster, this cast was full of good acting. Wendell Corey, Lloyd Bridges and Earl Holliman turned in fine jobs. Holliman's innocence and fresh spirit was a real highlight. The always cute Yvonne Lime also has a small part.
  • didi-515 September 2003
    Another of Kate Hepburn's ageing spinsters, to set aside her travelling lady in Italy in 'Summer Madness'. This time she's the unmarried sister in a house of men, whose heart gets a kick start by a visiting 'rainmaker', in the shape of Burt Lancaster.

    Hepburn and Lancaster give charm and credence to what might have been an extremely ridiculous scenario. The whole is pretty stagey but it has heart which shines through. Good support from Lloyd Bridges, Wendell Corey and others. Funnily enough the part of the youngest brother was set for Elvis Presley's debut - wonder if he'd have been able to pull it off?
  • What's best, to live only in our dreams, only on the outside of them, or somewhere in between? N. Richard Nash has written a deceptively simple story about faith, reality, trust, and transformation in the script from his play, "The Rainmaker." Ably directed by Joseph Anthony, richly scored by Alex North, and lovingly played by Katherine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster, this is a poignant and surprisingly moving drama. While the secondary love interest between Earl Holliman and Yvonne Lime become a bit cloying and hokey at times, the main theme is beautifully enacted by two enormously gifted stars. "The Rainmaker" is an entertainment winner, while offering much substantive food-for-thought.
  • When The Rainmaker came to Hollywood it was decided to get a couple of movie star names with some box office draw to replace the Broadway leads of Darren McGavin and Geraldine Page. The Rainmaker ran for 164 performances in the 1954-1955 season on Broadway and got good critical notices.

    Paramount wisely retained the services of playwright N. Richard Nash to do the screen version and he very nicely expanded the play which on Broadway was set in the Curry parlor to include all kinds of outdoor scenes. But the biggest thing they did was signing Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn as the leads.

    Hepburn plays somewhat against type, though not apparently so. She manages to successfully hide her Bryn Mawr speech and does do well as a mid western spinster. The last time Kate went middle west it was for Alice Adams over 20 years before.

    But Lizzie Curry is no silly little girl like Alice was. She's an educated woman, a little too smart for most of the town folk where she lives. She intimidates them with her education. In fact she's being unfairly contrasted with Yvonne Lime who plays a silly flirt that her younger brother Earl Holliman is stuck on.

    Into her life comes Starbuck who says he can make it rain for $100.00 of Curry money that father Camerone Prudhomme forks over, much to older son Lloyd Bridges's objections. As Starbuck, Burt Lancaster is in dress rehearsal for his Oscar winning role as Elmer Gantry five years later. Lancaster gives Hepburn the great romance she's been seeking and needs in the same manner he wooed Sister Sharon Falconer in Elmer Gantry.

    My favorites in The Rainmaker are Hepburn's two brothers, Holliman and Bridges. Holliman in fact got a Golden Globe Award and young Earl more than held his own against this experienced group of veteran players. He's not terribly bright as he was in a whole lot of his early roles, but Earl has a good heart. Bridges is this control freak of a brother to whom the father has ceded much authority in the family and the running of their ranch. Cameron Prudhomme is the only one from the Broadway cast appearing in the film.

    Rounding out the cast are Wallace Ford and Wendell Corey as the sheriff and deputy who are both on Lancaster's trail and who the Currys try desperately to fix their sister up with. Corey has a few issues of his own to resolve however.

    Katharine Hepburn got one of her Best Actress Academy Award nominations for The Rainmaker, but she lost to Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia. The Rainmaker holds up very well for today's audience. After all, every family has some member they're trying to see happily wedded.
  • Although the screen adaptation of "The Rainmaker" remains firmly stage bound, once the film's fine cast involves viewers with the characters' complex emotions, the obviously fake sets are rarely noticed again. The painted skies, over-lit interiors, and western back-lots would under cut the film's veracity with a lesser cast. However, the leads are sterling, and, only a short time into the film, the small dreams of a lonely woman, who is just beyond her marrying years, engage the audience to such an extent that distractions from pedestrian direction, an often overly dramatic music score, and sound-stage exteriors will fade away.

    Katharine Hepburn gives arguably one of her finest performances as Lizzie, the plain spinster who harbors a repressed yearning for marriage and a family. Despite the ploys of her brothers, well played by Lloyd Bridges and occasionally over played by Earl Holliman, Lizzie returns from a visit to a family of eligible bachelors without a beau. Although her sights had originally been set on Wendell Corey, a divorced sheriff who is disguised as a widower, he is an independent man and prefers to remain in the single state. Enter Starbuck, a flamboyant con man, played to the hilt by Burt Lancaster, who was born to inhabit such roles. Starbuck is cousin to Elmer Gantry, the Crimson Pirate, and other athletic extroverts that created Lancaster's larger-than-life screen persona, and Lancaster plays to this image in "The Rainmaker." Meanwhile, Hepburn is at the peak of her aging spinster parts, which also include such indelible women as those in "The African Queen" and "Summertime." Together, the two stars captivate viewers and lend credence to a some-times predictable story line. Actually, during a few of playwright N. Richard Nash's over-wrought scenes, the cast seems about to burst into song, which makes the play's subsequent musical adaptation, "110 in the Shade," almost inevitable.

    Despite the film's flaws, patient viewers who persist beyond the first half hour will be rewarded. Although Hepburn became mannered as her later career progressed, the portrayal of Lizzie Curry does not rely on ticks and quivering chins, and the sensitive dreamer beneath the weathered woman shines through with the help of Lancaster's charismatic Starbuck. Hepburn's glowing demeanor, when faced with a cross-roads decision that she has dreamed of for years, will bring a tear to all but the toughest in the audience.
  • artzau18 March 2001
    I'll say it like it is. This is a classic. Nash's play comes to live on the silver screen with veteran actors Cameron Prud'homme, Wallace Ford, Katie Hepburn and Earl Holliman. Wendell Corey, who few of us remember beyond his breaking a Ming Vase in Mildred Pierce, is great as the stiff deputy. Sweet little Yvonne Lime is on but for a few moments but the cast is great and the story comes together just wonderfully. The commenter who was bothered by Katie's New England English and the implausibility of the storyline needed to let go of such a rigid standard. Nothing is ever perfect. Lancaster is great as the fast-talking Starbuck and one can see flashes of his former role as the Italian buffoon in The Rose Tattoo and what will come in the later Elmer Gantry. This is a wonderful story and sensitively done by a fine cast. Check it out. It is a classic.
  • Much has been made of the fact that nearly all of the actors were too old to comfortably inhabit their roles, which I think is crap. I don't think Hepburn's character felt anything other than genuine nor did it seem as if she were playing a character younger than her years. For one, she was a pretty well-preserved 49 - but that's almost beside the point. The point, I think being, is that no matter what your age or station, dreams will infuse you with beauty and purpose, so never abandon them. Sure, there were show-boaty moments (the final scene of the Rainmaker riding off springs to mind) - but this was made in 1956, after all, and gestures tended to be a little more expansive. Context, people, context.
  • What can I say, it was a great movie. Katharine Hepburn is excellent as Lizzy Curry and Burt Lancaster in one of his best performances ever. Hepburn

    deserved her Oscar nomination but Lancaster should have been nominated as

    well. You have to admit he was not playing his ordinary tough character. He

    brought some laughs to the movie as Starbuck. The supporting cast including

    Lloyd Bridges and Wendell Corey was great and Alex North's music is great as

    it usually is. This is an underrated movie and is definately worth your time

    watching. You should see this movie if you haven't already. It's pretty hard to find of Video and it is not yet available on DVD and it should and if you do get this movie, don't get it confused with John Grisham's version.
  • To prove that he was not merely an athletic actor in the Errol Flynn mould, Burt Lancaster would occasionally dabble in film adaptations of serious stage plays from the likes of William Inge and Tennessee Williams; this is his third such attempt – albeit taken from a lesser-known author (N. Richard Nash) and with a more optimistic outcome (in fact, it was later musicalized on Broadway as "110 In The Shade")! That 1964 revamp shared with this straight film version its director Joseph Anthony, here making his first of just six efforts in that capacity. For a self-proclaimed atheist, Lancaster did his fair share of hammy, arm-waving 'preaching' on the screen and this is his first instance as such – portraying travelling con man Bill Starbuck whose "rainmaking" capabilities are just what this film's drought-ridden Southern town needs; on the other side of the coin is "plain" old- maid-in-the-making Lizzie Curry played by an overage Katharine Hepburn. I have to admit to a curious antipathy towards this most decorated of screen actresses and, indeed, her (by turns) moving and embarrassing performance here garnered nominations at the Oscars (her seventh), BAFTAs (third) and Golden Globe (second); the film itself earned a handful of other awards (Earl Holliman was named Best Supporting Actor at the Globes) and nominations (a second Oscar nod for Alex North's typically fine score; Golden Globe nods to Lancaster and the film; and another one for Nash at the Writers Guild Awards). Unsurprisingly embracing (as opposed to eschewing) its theatrical origins given the "performance" subtext that permeates the entire plot, the film has its fair share of good scenes which (apart from the opening sequence) revolve around the eight characters that seemingly inhabit this town: Wendell Corey (as the 'widowed' deputy), Lloyd Bridges (as Hepburn's equally cynical brother), Cameron Prud'Homme (as her well-meaning father), the aforementioned Holliman (as her spunky younger brother), Wallace Ford (as the elderly Sheriff) and Yvonne Fedderson (as Holliman's red-cap wearing girlfriend); the whole makes for a pleasant if not especially outstanding romantic drama about the interior beauty of lonely people. For the record, the play was later also brought to the small screen in 1982 by a past master of the medium (John Frankenheimer) with Tommy Lee Jones and Tuesday Weld in the leading roles.
  • Not knowing anything about this movie, I happened to pick it up on TCM (Turner Classic Movies). What a pleasing, warm and emotional experience have I just had!

    The definition of a great movie is one that "talks" to you, and this one, with its universal themes of dreams and self belief, did just that.

    Folk who complain about the cheesy sets and so on have missed the point. This is a film about the human condition. Each character has a place, and is well crafted. Each character is properly formed. Loved that the Rainmaker developed as a character too.

    The ending was the best part.

    Full credit to the screen writer. In creating this piece, fittingly to the themes he created, did something worthwhile with his life.
  • kyle_furr2 February 2004
    I'm glad I finally watched this film, because I passed it several times. Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn are both great in this movie and so is Llyod Bridges. If your a fan of Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn, you should watched it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's 1956, and Hepburn is 49 years old, and we are supposed to believe that she is the "old maid" sister of a couple of young fellas, while her father looks about the right age to be her husband.

    The movie is set in about 1910, out on the prairie, with shiny vintage automobiles sitting around what is obviously, awkwardly, only a stage-set town. (Hepburn's accent, however, continues to reek of Eastern refinement--is it possible that her late, unmentioned mother was a displaced Main Liner?) She's trim & capable & likes to wear pants, but we're supposed to believe she's yearning to press a man's suit for him, to be "womanly," to be "needed"! (That KH, who is still alive at 92 & has NEVER married after a very brief episode in youth, could say such lines!) Of course, in 1956 we can't be told flat out that she is going to wither up and die if she can't have sex before she's too old to enjoy it, but this is implied.

    So we have a climactic scene in a barn, where Burt L. takes her hair down & kisses--yes, kisses her. ("Have you ever been KISSED before?" he says to her when "it's all over.") While she's out in the barn being "kissed," her real boyfriend, who's been too shy to communicate with her, shows up, & she's torn (supposedly) between the passionate, dangerous stranger who's just deflowered her & this shy guy who's been a non-starter. And she, unaccountably, chooses the shy guy, presumably because he's on the side of law & order (vs. poetry & anarchy). So, Lancaster (who doesn't seem at all downcast by her decision) drives off into the rain.

    The only fascination this movie has for me is in watching a really good actress, Hepburn, do her best with a totally implausible situation and lines that are so out of character she must have reminded herself constantly of how much she was being paid to utter them.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Is there a 5-minute sequence anywhere in this movie where someone isn't either laughing, crying, yelling, throwing a punch, or more likely multiple characters doing all of the above? To me the best performance was easily Wendell Corey.. the only one not seemingly possessed by multiple personalities. His first scene about having a dog named "dog" is a great bit of "dramedy", and in the one-one-one with Hepburn he looks just like what File is... a man who might be in love but terrifed at the thought of showing his hand and getting burned. OK, right after the dog scene he does punch somebody, but "he had it coming"... and a nice swing too.
  • I generally LIKE watching Burt Lancaster's films--especially when he is needed to go nuts with his imposing screen presence like in Elmer Gantry. However, his greatest strength, his magnetism, was occasionally also his greatest weakness as he rarely, if ever, underplayed ANYTHING. And it is this lack of subtlety that really hinders The Rainmaker. Now I understand that his character was meant to be a sort of showman but how Katherine Hepburn could fall under his spell is completely inexplicable. She is supposed to be smart but doesn't seem so when Lancaster's blarney is being thrown about the screen! In addition to this, the story is perhaps one of the most stagy looking films I have ever seen and it is way too obvious that this is a movie based on a play. It just looks like it was mostly filmed in a sound stage instead of in the great wide open West like it was supposed to be.

    Overall, a very overrated film.
  • Sturdy film adaptation of a well-received stage drama. Burt Lancaster is perfectly suited to theatrical role of a con-man out West who befriends a folksy family and convinces them he can make it rain on their drought-ridden land. N. Richard Nash's play becomes hearty vehicle for a hand-picked cast, with Lancaster mercurial as ever and Katharine Hepburn appealing as a sweet spinster who could use the rain--and then some! A bit encumbered and awkward at the beginning, though this is compensated for by the handsome production and sterling players (including Wallace Ford, Wendell Corey and Lloyd Bridges). Material later transformed into the 1963 Broadway musical, "110 in the Shade". **1/2 from ****
  • jotix10010 September 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Bill Starbuck is a cunning man that can enchant small town folks with the fake promises the products he peddles will do miracles. As we come to the story, he is trying to unload devices that will help folks with tornadoes, so prevalent in that part of the country. Unfortunately, he is found out and must flee before being arrested.

    The countryside in rural Texas is broiling under the strong summer sun. No rain has fallen in quite some time. The Currys, H.C., the father, Noah and Jim are at the train station to meet Lizzie, the daughter, and sibling that has gone on a trip and is coming home. The Currys are obsessed in finding her a husband. Lizzie, a woman of a 'certain age' seems resigned for her own old maid status.

    When Bill Starbuck arrives at the Curry ranch, he sees the three men in a field where a few dead animals lay on the ground because of the drought conditions in the area. Later, Starbuck arrives unannounced at the ranch. The Currys have invited the sheriff to come to dinner, something that was arranged to see if the lawman would click with Lizzie. The sheriff File never got over the way his wife left him for another man, so he is reluctant to begin any other relationship if he can help it.

    That night, Lizzie, realizing her prospects of ever getting any man interested in her, goes to the barn where Starbuck has been staying. Their meeting does not begin well, but Starbuck guesses what is causing this woman's troubles. Having a gift of gab, he convinces her she is her worst enemy and seduces her. Lizzie responds in kindness because for the first time in her life she has felt wanted for the first time in her life.

    Joseph Anthony directed the screen adaptation of Richard Nash Broadway play. The original cast included Geraldine Page and Darren McGavin as Lizzie and Starbuck. The film version was blessed with the unusual pairing of Katherine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster. In fact, Ms. Hepburn had starred in "Summertime", released the previous year. It was, in a way, a variation on the same theme, but in another setting and context. Lizzie was a variation of the character she had played successfully, although not in the least intentionally. The only thing the movie does not avoid is the feeling it is nothing but filmed stage play.

    Burt Lancaster as Starbuck deserves a lot of credit for giving his character a lot of the poetry that it required. Director Joseph Anthony got a great performance of this actor. Katherine Hepburn's contribution to the film is enormous. Her chemistry with her co-stars was one of the best things in the film. Wendell Corey, Lloyd Bridges, Earl Holliman, and Cameron Prud'Homme rounded up the cast.
  • "The Rainmaker" released in 1956 - has some of the finest actors of its time. Katharine Hepburn, Lloyd Bridges, and Burt Lancaster being the principle players. Not even they can save this completely over acted melodrama. First of all, Hepburn is horribly miscast as a shy spinster - despite her brilliance as an actress, not even she can pull this off. She is too strong to be credible as being this much of a simpleton, and was just too old for the part. Lancaster over acts to the extreme, and Earl Holliman is way too hammy and comes off more like Jethro Clampett. Only Bridges and the ever reliable Wendell Corey seem to rise above the cast a bit - but even they can only do so much. It seems like the 1950's was a time when Katharine Hepburn wanted to spread her wings a bit as an actress, and that is fine. She just made a bad choice here. Fortunately for her fans (me being among them) she didn't make too many of them. Despite an A-list cast and good production values, it doesn't work.
  • Reading the DVD sleeve description of "The Rainmaker" certainly opens the door to different interpretations. It says here, "Under the spell of a wandering charlatan named 'Starbuck', a lonely ranch girl blossoms into full womanhood. Katharine Hepburn garnered an 'Oscar' nomination as the 'believably plain yet magnificently beautiful' tomboy rancher, with Burt Lancaster brilliantly cast in the role of the smooth-talking con man who sells his rainmaking 'powers' to unsuspecting, drought-ridden Western towns." Ms. Hepburn is clearly neither a "ranch girl" nor a "tomboy rancher" in the film. My impression was that she was a spinster, with some advanced (for the time) degree of education in her background.

    Hepburn's "Lizzie" correctly amends her "plain" character as, "plain… as plain as old shoes." In progression, Lancaster addresses her as "Lady," then "sister," then "girl." Hepburn's characterization has different timbre than original play; obviously, the actress was taking her age and background into consideration. Hepburn and Lancaster effectively use bits and pieces of their own personalities in the lead roles. It helps that director Joseph Anthony keeps the film theatrical-looking. The camera moves well, and deliberately with the performers. So, you feel like you are watching a stage play. Sets and setting are also permitted to be less realistic. In these ways, the film shows itself to be aware of casting shadows.

    Another stand-out in the "older" cast is Earl Holliman, who certainly must be playing a teenager, or is endearingly dim-witted? Interestingly, the two performers most arguably too old for their parts received the greatest award recognition - Mr. Holliman with a "Golden Globe" win as the year's "Best Supporting Actor", and Hepburn with her "Academy Award" nomination. Mr. Lancaster was also deservedly praised, and would extend his "Starbuck" to his award-winning "Elmer Gantry" (1960). Wendell Corey, Lloyd Bridges, and Cameron Prud'homme also contribute intriguing performances. Much credit should go to N. Richard Nash, who wrote a story that strikes collective chords in the human consciousness.

    ********* The Rainmaker (12/13/56) Joseph Anthony, N. Richard Nash ~ Katharine Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Earl Holliman, Wendell Corey
  • "The Rainmaker" is, officially, a Western. It is set in a small town rural town in the West, (probably in the 1920s or 1930s, to judge from the cars and costumes we see), but it bears little resemblance to most Westerns from the fifties. This was the decade when the cinema first faced serious competition from television, and spectacular Westerns featuring exciting action sequences shot against the dramatic scenery of the American West were one of Hollywood's major weapons in its fight against the newcomer. ("Shane", "The Naked Spur", "The Searchers" and "The Big Country" are all good examples). This film, by contrast, is adapted from a stage play, and it shows.

    The plot is a simple one. It is a hot summer and the area is suffering from a severe drought. A man calling himself Bill Starbuck arrives in town, promising that he can make it rain. A spinster named Lizzie Curry falls in love with him. The film tells the story of the effect which Starbuck has on Lizzie and the other townspeople. The film's message is, effectively, "learn to love yourself and to believe in yourself". Starbuck, of course, is not a genuine rainmaker but a con-man; even his real surname is not Starbuck but Smith. The important thing is that he projects such assurance and self-belief that others accept him as genuine, and under his influence Lizzie, hitherto put upon and patronised by her father and two brothers for whom she acts as housekeeper on the family cattle ranch, learns to believe in herself too.

    I have never seen the play on which "The Rainmaker" is based, so I do not know how well this story might work on the stage. (I understand that it is a staple of the American theatre, but on this side of the Atlantic both the play and its author, one N. Richard Nash, are virtually unknown). Unfortunately, the film does not work for me, and when I recently saw it on television I was disappointed; I had been hoping for something far better, given that it stars two actors as talented as Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn.

    Part of the problem is miscasting. Hepburn is quite wrong for the part of Lizzie for three reasons, namely age, looks and personality. We never learn exactly how old Lizzie is, but I think we are supposed to assume that she is considerably younger than Hepburn's 49 years at the time the film was made, possibly in her thirties. Secondly, Lizzie is supposed to be plain, whereas Hepburn in her youth was considered one of Hollywood's most beautiful actresses, and even in her late forties was still strikingly handsome. Thirdly, and most importantly, Hepburn spent most of her career playing strong, independent and capable woman, and is not really credible as a downtrodden, put-upon spinster lacking in self-confidence. Her "Best Actress" Oscar nomination today seems incredible. (Mind you, there seems to have been something odd going on at the Academy Awards for 1956; that was the year which saw Don Murray's bizarre "Best Supporting Actor" nomination for his awful performance in "Bus Stop" and Kirk Douglas unaccountably losing "Best Actor" to Yul Brynner). Lancaster as Starbuck is better suited to his role, but this is not one of his great performances and he was to be far better as another charismatic con-man, Elmer Gantry, four years later.

    My other problem with the film is to do with the direction. I was not surprised to learn that Joseph Anthony was a theatrical director who directed Nash's play on stage but had never previously directed a movie, as he seems to have made this film on the basis that there was no essential difference between the two media. There is little attempt to open the story out and little in the way of action; most scenes take place indoors and consist mainly dialogue rather than physical action. The result is a static, talky film, dominated by interminable conversations. Another reviewer claims that the film could have been far better had it been made by a major cinema director such as Fred Zinnemann or George Stevens who would no doubt have escaped from the "filmed theatre" style of film-making and made maximum use of the greater freedom which the cinematic medium offers. That is doubtless true, but I suspect that Zinnemann or Stevens, or any of the other great directors of the period, would have demanded from the producers more artistic freedom and a much greater budget than Anthony appears to have had at his disposal. 4/10
  • There is something curiously "off"and unsatisfying about this otherwise engaging movie with its all-star, ca. 1950's lineup. It really should be a musical! There were times when the action paused and I really waited for Kate to do a song about the perils of being plain, or for Burt to sing about putting on a happy face, followed by Kate's "I feel pretty." (I think I read that it was later turned into a musical on Broadway). Trouble is the first two-thirds of the movie was a believable, non-romantasized portrayal of a likeable big family...a sort of "Big Valley" or "Bonanza" clan, who suddenly looked dysfunctional when diagnosed by "dreamer/con-man" Burt Lancaster. Over-responsible (but well-intentioned) big brother Lloyd Bridges was the character who lost the most ground as the tone of the movie veered into a non-musical "musical", but it was overall unsatisfying to be unexpectedly steep in psychobabble about self esteem and soul searching and not liking this family anymore. A movie I was loving turned into one that I thought would never end. Still, Kate did a great job, whooping and hollering with her brothers when the rain and the movies' end (finally, mercifully, blessedly) came.
  • The Rainmaker (1956) by Richard Nash In a world of drought comes a man who imagines himself to be a "rainmaker". This character has deep inner conflict between his passionate belief that he can bring the rain, although he has never been able to do it, and his terrible fear that he's a fool or mad. He meets a woman, falls in love, then suffers as she tries to believe in him, but turns away, convinced he's a charlatan or worse. He has a strong conflict with society – some follow him as if he's a messiah; others want to stone him out of town. Lastly he faces implacable conflict with the physical world – hot winds, empty skies, parched earth. If this man can struggle through all his inner and personal conflicts, against social and environmental forces and finally coax rain out of a cloudless sky, that storm would be majestic and sublimely meaningful. This is the story outline of "The Rainmaker" which was adapted to screen by Richard Nash from his own play. This has been described in the book titled "story"

    The Hindi classic Guide (1965) directed Vijay Anand based on the eponymous novel by R.K Narayanan seems very similar. Raju the "Guide" has the same inner and outer conflicts. He also falls in love with a woman who happens to be a dancer and married. He goes through sufferings as she becomes famous. He walks away from her but his mind still carries the baggage of the past. He reaches a drought ridden town where people think he's a messiah who can bring rain. Some people try to stone him to chase him out of the town. Lastly he faces the final conflict of the spirit and the flesh – hot winds, empty skies, parched earth and the gods of the temple. He struggles through all his inner and personal conflicts,(with a fast- unto-death )against social, environmental and spiritual forces to finally coax rain out of the cloudless sky.
  • I loved this movie when I first saw it 40 years ago. I remember being dazzled by Burt Lancaster's performance. Seeing it again, Burt Lancaster's performance is still wonderful, but I see a lot more flaws in the film as a whole.

    People have weighed in on the central issue of Katherine Hepburn's performance. Some think it is a great performance and some think that she is miscast. I think both are right. She does a wonderful acting job, filled with nice moments, but she is miscast in the role. She breaks what I will name now as the "Seven Year Rule". While an actor or actress can easily always play older, they should never play a character more than seven years younger than they are. You can get away with playing a high school student until you're about 24. After that, it looks fake. By the way, this rule works for male actors too. Gary Cooper ruined "Love in the Afternoon" when at 56 he tried to play a 40 year old having an affair with a 20 year old looking Audrey Hepburn.

    In this movie, Hepburn, who was 49 at the time, was playing a character who was supposed to be around 30. She could have passed for 42, but no-one could have mistaken her for a 30 year old. At 30 a woman desperate for a man to marry her is still a source of comedy, at 42, it is really a source for bathos. Still at times, she does make you look past her age and feel the depth of emotion of the character.

    The camera placement and editing of the movie really does make it look like a stage play, although the sets are quite nice and realistic.

    Also, the second and third acts are really slow. If redone today, at least 20 minutes and perhaps 30 would have to be cut to give it a more modern pace. For example, a scene where the deputy is invited for dinner drags on for almost 15 minutes. It could easily have been done in 5 minutes or less.

    Still, we're getting some beautiful technicolor here and we're getting Burt Lancaster in one of his most exuberant and charming performances. He is having so much fun with the part that it is impossible not to enjoy the movie when he's on-screen (which is only about 40 minutes, alas.

    Apparently, Elvis Presley was up for the Earl Holloman role. While Hollowman did win a Golden Globe, he now seems to be overacting. Probably Elvis would have done as well and made the movie a much bigger hit.
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