The Rain People

Overview

Despite an effort by the Warner Bros. publicity mills to turn The Rain People into an instant cult film upon its first release the ad campaign stressed the intimacy and humanity of the story, this early Francis Ford Coppola effort would have to wait several years to find its audience. Shirley Knight stars as Natalie, a housewife who, unable to cope with being "trapped" by impending pregnancy, deserts her husband and takes to the road. Eager to start life over, Natalie attaches herself to hitchhiker Kilgannon ...
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Overview

Despite an effort by the Warner Bros. publicity mills to turn The Rain People into an instant cult film upon its first release the ad campaign stressed the intimacy and humanity of the story, this early Francis Ford Coppola effort would have to wait several years to find its audience. Shirley Knight stars as Natalie, a housewife who, unable to cope with being "trapped" by impending pregnancy, deserts her husband and takes to the road. Eager to start life over, Natalie attaches herself to hitchhiker Kilgannon James Caan. She is fully aware that Kilgannon, a former football pro, has incurred so much brain damage that he's practically a child but insists upon sticking with him. Along the way, she has a variety of offbeat experiences with such eccentrics as a snake-farmer Tom Aldredge and a widowed traffic-cop Robert Duvall. An unexpectedly violent turn of events, triggered by the traffic cop's troubled daughter Marya Zimmet, leaves Natalie virtually back where she started. Director Coppola was still laboring under the influence of the French New Wave in The Rain People; there are so many flashbacks and flashforwards that soon even the actors don't know where they stand. Yes, it's an example of youthful cinematic excess, but there's a streak of genius in The Rain People that is impossible to miss. Coppola based his screenplay on his own short story "Echoes."
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
An early film from Francis Ford Coppola, The Rain People is erratic and unfocused, but has moments of brilliance that hint at the director's talent and takes full advantage of the film's excellent cast. Coppola employs flashbacks and flashforwards excessively, so that their effect is soon muted, but they do make for interesting storytelling. They also date the film, as the determinedly "form over content" approach positions it very firmly in a late-'60s cinematic milieu. The film's greatest asset is its leading lady: Shirley Knight gives a wonderfully detailed performance that has largely been overlooked through the years. From the opening moments, even without saying a word, the viewer understands that Knight's character is suffocating in her present lifestyle. As the film progresses and Knight struggles to find herself now that she has left her husband, the viewer is treated to the believable actions of a character discovering new facets of her personality (and not always liking what she finds). Knight's mannerisms and gestures work in tandem with her dialogue -- much of which was improvised -- to create multiple levels of reality. James Caan also turns in a noteworthy performance, capturing the pathos of the character without hitting the viewer over the head. Coppola would examine a very different dysfunctional family in his next directorial effort, The Godfather.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2009
  • UPC: 883316126547
  • Original Release: 1969
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 45,424

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Caan Kilgannon
Shirley Knight Natalie
Robert Duvall Gordon
Marya Zimmet Rosalie
Tom Aldredge Mr. Alfred
Andrew Duncan Artie
Margaret Fairchild marion
Sally Gracie Beth
Alan Manson Lou
Robert Modica Vinny
Laurie Crews Ellen
Technical Credits
Francis Ford Coppola Director, Screenwriter
Nathan Boxer Sound/Sound Designer
Bill Butler Cinematographer
Ronald B. Colby Producer
Jack Cunningham Asst. Director
Jack Cunningham Asst. Director
Leon Ericksen Art Director
Barry Malkin Editor
Bart Patton Producer
Ronald Stein Score Composer
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