The Rainmaker (1997)



Critic Consensus: Invigorated by its talented cast and Francis Ford Coppola's strong direction, The Rainmaker is a satisfying legal drama -- and arguably the best of Hollywood's many John Grisham adaptations.

Movie Info

A broke, inexperienced law-school grad takes on a huge Insurance company to fight for a woman whose son has terminal leukemia. The insurance company won't pay for the life-saving operation, so it is up to lawyer Rudy to fight for the boy's life.

Rating: PG-13 (For a strong beating and elements of domestic abuse)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Grisham, Bob Yeoman, Francis Ford Coppola
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 17, 1998
Paramount Pictures


as Rudy Baylor

as Kelly Riker

as Deck Schifflet

as Leo F. Drummond

as Dot Black

as Bruiser Stone

as Judge Harvey Hale

as Miss Birdie

as Jackie Lemancyzk

as Cliff Riker

as Buddy Black

as Wilfred Keeley

as Billy Porter

as Judge Tyrone Kipler

as Donny Ray Black

as Prince Thomas

as Everett Lufkin

as Jack Underhall

as F. Franklin Donaldso...

as B. Bobby Shaw

as Narration

as J. Michael Floquet

as Mr. Van Landel

as Kermit Aldy

as Delbert Birdsong

as Vera Birdsong

as Jewelry Saleswoman

as Bruiser's Driver

as Homicide Detective

as Homicide Detective

as Jury Foreman

as Courtroom Clerk

as Court Reporter

as Mr. McKenzie

as CNN Reporter

as Hospital Volunteer

as Murder Scene Bystand...

as Murder Scene Bystand...

as St. Peter's Receptio...

as Great Benefit Salesm...

as Newscaster

as Rehab Center Desk Cl...

as Himself

as Boy with Broken Arm

as Bruiser's Receptioni...

as Tinley Britt Lawyer

as Legal Commentator

as Court Clerk

as Deposition Court Rep...

as Bar Exam Proctor

as Waitress at Bar
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Critic Reviews for The Rainmaker

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (13)

Coppola has never been particularly known for his comic touch, but here he seems bent on leavening the melodrama with as many laughs as possible, and they are generally honest and well-earned.

Full Review… | June 9, 2008
Top Critic

This competent, anonymous legal drama (scripted by Michael Herr) is the best John Grisham adaptation yet.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Coppola adapted the novel himself, and he's done a good job of paring it down.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Coppola has infused The Rainmaker with enough humor, character, honest emotion and storytelling style to make it one of the year's most entertaining movies.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Francis Ford Coppola, who wrote and directed the film, has made the most of Grisham's ground-level realism.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Satisfactory mainstream entertainment, with a handful of major actors in juicy minor roles tossed in for good measure.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Rainmaker

A surprisingly poor fairy tale about a young, broke lawyer (Damon) who by luck of the draw happens to become the lead lawyer in a case against a wealthy insurance company that failed to cover a low-income family's son after it was determined the type of leukemia he had required a bone marrow transplant. I was surprised this was directed by Coppola, one of the best directors all-time. What we have here is a common set-up (the young, naive lawyer vs. the big, bad insurance company), a needless subplot (Danes and Damon's affair, which amounts to nothing as far as to how the main story unfolds, not to mention a glaring plot hole near the end), and a very emotion-less ending for such an emotional story. Damon is very good, and the supporting cast couldn't be better (DeVito is a delight), but sadly it's wasted on a story that is really hard to believe.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


I have hardly ever seen a movie that is as good as the novel it is based upon, so I wasn't expecting this movie to be better than the novel. The story isn't as interesting in this movie, but the cast is great, the entertainment value is excellent, and veteran Director Francis Ford Coppola is behind the camera here. Coppola has directed movies like the epic mob masterpiece The Godfather and plenty of other great movies.

This was released a couple of weeks before Matt Damon's huge hit Good Will Hunting, so this is one of his first big roles in a movie. Danny De Vito does a great job in adding plenty of humor to the movie, and Jon Voight adds a lot of dramatic effect to his character.

The story follows a young lawyer who is representing the family of a boy with leukemia who could have had proper treatment, but couldn't because of a seedy insurance company. The movie pretty much follows the book, but the problem is that the book had a few great sub plots that seem absent from the movie, and one scene that happens in the middle of the movie happens in the end of the book. The scene is very intense, but it seems more like it belonged at the end of the movie, rather than the middle.

This is worth watching, it is one of the best Grisham films, and there are plenty of great qualities in it.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


Interesting legal drama.

Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

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