The Rains Came (1939)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Devotees of Louis Bromfield's novel that provides the basis for The Rains Came -- even any such devotees there still are -- will be disappointed by the film version of the novel, but they're likely to be the only ones. True, Rains simplifies the book in the most basic way, stripping it of its social context and commentary and leaving little more than the love story and the plot outline. But Rains works like gangbusters on film, precisely because of this treatment. Modern audiences, more accustomed to this sort of tragic romance, will perhaps find it a bit familiar, but they'll be swept up in the story and won over by the struggle of Man against Nature. They may be less won over by the casting of white-only performers in the lead Indian roles, but this was standard practice at the time. As the chief "Indian," Tyrone Power turns in a delicious performance, the kind of movie star turn that the film requires. Even better is the delectable Myrna Loy, back in her old "not-so-good girl" territory and having a blast, while at the same time spreading her special celluloid magic over the whole proceedings. George Brent is so-so, but young Brenda Joyce is vivaciously refreshing and old Nigel Bruce gets a chance to stretch beyond his traditional Doctor Watson persona and does so notably. There's also a nice, characterful turn from Maria Ouspenskaya as the Maharini. Clarence Brown directs with assurance and flair, and he makes the most of the earthquake/flood sequence that is the film's undeniable highlight. This is truly spectacular and impresses even today, in the world of CGI effects. Thrilling and engaging, Rains is dynamite fun.