Image Courtesy of www.DVDSoon.com
Burt Lancaster……….Bill Starbuck
Katharine Hepburn……….Lizzie Curry
Wendell Corey……….Deputy Sheriff J.S. File
Lloyd Bridges……….Noah Curry
Earl Holliman……….Jim Curry
Cameron Prud’Homme……….H.C. Curry
Wallace Ford……….Sheriff Howard Thomas
Yvonne Lime……….Snookie Maguire
In a day and age where marriage and childbirth is being pushed off to older ages, or not at all in some cases, sometimes it can be interesting to look back upon other generation’s views on the topic of the age of marriage. And in the 1950s, there was something wrong with a woman if she wasn’t married by a certain age. If she got into her 30s and still wasn’t married she was often labeled as a ‘spinster.’ And Lizzie Curry (Katharine Hepburn) in The Rainmaker finds herself in this situation, a single woman in a household of men in a sleepy town called Three Point.
She is fast approaching 30 and there is nothing more her father wants than to see her get married. After arriving home without a husband from her Uncle’s ranch, Lizzie is resigned to her fate as an unmarried woman. In today’s day and age it’s more socially acceptable than it was 50 years ago, but in this day and time Lizzie’s brothers and father like her cooking and cleaning but would prefer her to do it for a future husband. She wants it as well but she wants it on her own terms, as she does object to some of their suggestions like Deputy File (Wendell Corey), though not too strenuously. She wants a man who can stand on his own two feet and will let her do the same. Her little brother Jim (Earl Holliman) also has a romance of his started with a local girl named Snookie (Yvonne Lime), who owns her car.
In comes a drought and Bill Starbuck (Burt Lancaster), a con man. Starbuck is based off a real life rainmaker, Charles Hatfield, and after being run out of one town selling antennas to stave away tornadoes he comes in to Three Point. On the run, he brings his confidence scheme to this town for a large sum of money. They suspect he’s a con man but he makes his deal to try and make the rain fall. From there it’s an unlikely romance between the con man and the spinster.
And that’s the movie’s main strength, is that Hepburn and Lancaster have chemistry on screen that belies the movie’s ridiculous plot. With all of Starbuck’s schemes and machinations to get the rain to fall and Lizzie’s family’s whole-hearted attempts at going through with Starbuck’s schemes taking up the time, these are all secondary to the romance brewing between the two. They have interactions together that steal the moment.
Hepburn is quite spectacular in her role. As a woman wanting to be more than just a cook and a cleaning lady, her sort of proclamations are givens with today’s “modern” woman but were pretty against the grain in her era. Earning an Academy Award nomination for her part, Hepburn is equal parts radiant and vulnerable in her role. She has certain strength in not just settling for someone to marry but there is a certain sense she is scared as well, that she doesn’t want to a typical housewife of the era.
Lancaster matches her, turn for turn, as the rain maker running a confidence scheme. He’s dashing and charming, and when he’s exposed as a con man he runs with it and is ever more convincing. He’s part motivational speaker and part volcano insurance salesman, and yet his performance is just explosive on the screen.
It makes up for a lot of the shortcomings of the plot and story, which isn’t very good. Getting Lancaster and Hepburn together is done in such a haphazard manner that it’s not very believable. Once they get to the point where both are interacting the movie settles down, but certain plot devices and story line fragments that are stopped and paused take away from the overall story arc. This is a movie that revolves around the romance between Bill and Lizzie and yet certain subplots are stopped and started without too much care. The movie’s main story, about Bill making rain, is often ignored as well as the movie’s main comedic subplot between Snookie and Jim. The haphazard starting and stopping gives The Rainmaker a disjointed look and feel which takes away from a lot of the good it has in it.
Score : 7.5/10
For a movie that was released in 1956, this looks quite good. Not great, but good as Paramount cleaned up the picture quite well. It is clear, but the colors are a bit muted. Overall it’s a good picture, much cleaned up from prior releases, but not a great one.
Score : 8/10
Much like the video, the audio in this first release of The Rainmaker is Dolby 5.1 and yet somehow doesn’t seem to take full advantage of it. Like the images and the color, the sound is a bit awkward and muted. There are times when certain noises come through perfectly but at the same time certain
Score : 8/10
There are no extras to be had on this release. This is an older film so it isn’t too incredibly shocking that there wouldn’t be at least the original trailer to the movie at a minimum but the theatrical release is all there is to be had. Paramount may have upped the audio and video, but no extras on it is a bit of a disappointment.
Score : 0/10