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Francis Ford Coppola has directed some of the greatest motion pictures of all time and while this is not one of them it is still a great little film and shows the innate talent that would make Coppola such an incredible creative force. You also get to see relatively young Robert Duvall and James Caan display their abilities early in their career along with Shirley Knight of Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) fame. What the film boasts other than being a sign of better things to come is a genuinely interesting story that is told sensitively by the director of the film and portrayed with vivacity by the cast.
Stressed pregnant housewife Natalie Ravenna, Shirley Knight, runs away from her husband and heads out on the road alone in an attempt to find herself. She encounters former football player with mental issues, Jimmy "Killer" Kilgannon, James Caan, along the way and strikes up a friendship with him before attempting to ditch him when she discovers his tragic past. She flirts with police officer Gordon, Robert Duvall, who attempts to have a sexual experience with her but it is interrupted by his mischievous daughter and his memories of his wife and her traumatic death. When Natalie attempts to leave she finds that he becomes too aggressive and cocks a gun at him before Killer arrives and is shot by Gordon's daughter after a tussle.
In 1969 it was obviously a far more novel idea that a woman could be an independent free spirit who has sexual affairs with multiple men but this film does transport you back to that time period as you see her speaking in hushed tones to her husband and bearing the consternation of her parents. Her ambivalence about her future and the consequences she eventually has to face for her irresponsible actions feel very in line with a lot of other films coming out in the late 1960s like The Graduate (1967) and Easy Rider (1969) but this film felt more contemplative. Yes, we see fairly graphic sexual content and violence towards the end of the film but this woman travels in a plain looking car instead of on a motor cycle and flirts with taking advantage of Killer before trying to offload him onto someone else. I appreciated seeing a film that didn't feel it needed loud music or elaborate direction to convey it's main points and this sort of film should still be being made today just with updated social values.
The relationship between Natalie and Gordon was one of the most interesting things in the film because we only really see him in the last 30 minutes of screen time and yet you feel like this is exactly the sort of man a woman like this would be attracted to. He initially seems very stable and yet when we return to his trailer and find his brassiere wearing daughter causing trouble as he attempts to have sex with a woman he barely knows in the same room we understand that he is a broken man. He seems broken in a fairly realistic way though which feeds into the film's portrayal of middle America and Duvall's sympathetic performance makes us understand the character even as he takes questionable action. You want to see this man succeed in a way as you learn about his grief and guilt while you also sense the fact that he may be dangerous to a woman that we want to see have fun and flirt with danger while not being drawn into such terrible trauma. The climax of the film leaves us stunned as we are unaware of where the story is going to go next but I would have loved to have found out.
In terms of performances I would say that three main cast members all do a very good job with Knight being reminiscent of Barbara Loden in Wanda (1970). Caan is sweet as the mentally struggling ex football player and we are devastated by his death but he is matched by Duvall who is dark and authoritative in just a small amount of screen time. If you want to watch a film that features great work from these actors this is it.
Surprised that Danny Peary, in his book Cult movies, only considers Natalie's story/women's representation. I think if that piece wasn't balanced by Killer's story and the America of the film, it would have been much poorer.
His points are no less valid, or interesting.
-feminist criticisms of the film. Would feminists still take issue with Natalie's promiscuous goals? Peary defends them as a realistic character choice and not just creepy male gaze stuff.
-Coppola's success at this woman-centred film before going on to a very male-dominated oeuvre.
-Coppola's - and Peary's! - sympathy for Natalie are charming: she's just not ready now, she needs her space, and it's possible for those to be true AND natalie to still love her husband.
7.7/10, my review: http://wp.me/p1eXom-2k4
Did you ever just want to take off? Leave your mess and go where the road goes?
It's never the answer. You have to turn around some time. If you can even do it anymore. Nowadays, if you use a credit card, if you have a phone or a GPS, you can be found. But somewhere, for a minute, between the exits on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you feel free.
So what's wrong with Natalie? Is she stifled by the roles thrust upon her? Is she at an existential crossroads? Or is she just selfish?
Films like The Rain People never answer those questions, they want to leave them open. I'm coming around to the notion that the best movies aren't the ones that take a stand and dare you to reject it. The best films are Rorschach tests for their viewers, where any comments about them tell you more about the speaker than the movie.
The Rain People was made in 1969, when its director Francis Ford Coppola was not yet an overindulged genius and was merely a budding genius. It's very much of its time - a road movie, generally plotless, the main character questioning the values that have been thrust upon her, against the backdrop of grotesque Americana.
One might wish Coppola had kept making small movies. As impressive as the Godfather movies are, I have trouble with films that ennoble scumbags (I have the same problem with Gone with the Wind). I prefer movies like this.
Watch it if you get the chance. It will stay with you.
Well made, but I kept thinking about the baggage that people you meet have; you just don't always know about it. Then to have it come out at the most inopportune times was horribly depressing. Caan was my favorite character as the brain injured football player. Just like knight, You can't help but feel sorry for his innocence.
After the lukewarm response to Coppola's first big budget feature ("Finian's Rainbow"), Coppola attempted to go smaller again with this more indie feature about a woman who leaves her husband after discovering she is pregnant, and while traveling meets a former college football layer with brain damage, and a widower highway patrolman...and nothing good seems to come from her trip to get away. It is a sad little movie, but fans of the New Hollywood era may enjoy this character study from Francis Ford Coppola, if not just to see what the man directed before his next feature film, the all-time classic "The Godfather".
No lugar do road movie dramático, que se antecipou a toda uma década de 70 apaixonada pelo género, "The Rain People" será provavelmente o filme mais crucial para perceber que a sensibilidade de Coppola colocou-o muitas vezes uns quantos passos à frente dos restantes realizadores da sua geração (Scorsese, De Palma, Friedkin, Spielberg). Só um autor com o tacto muito apurado conseguiria envolver-se num drama tão profundo como "The Rain People" e, mesmo assim, esquivar-se de todas as armadilhas lamechas em que esse arriscava meter o pé. Não existe uma cena demasiado longa. Não há um personagem que esteja em excesso. Tudo isto é geometria dramática pela mão de quem a sabe explorar como um mestre (ao nível de Kurosawa ou De Sica). Os documentos dizem que o filme foi bastante incompreendido na sua estreia e primeiros anos, mas hoje há que lhe reconhecer uma importância esmagadora na formação de um código para o road movie que descreve algum processo emocional de quem pega no volante. "Five Easy Pieces" (1970), "Badlands" (1973) e "Paris, Texas" (1984): todos surgiram depois e todos lhe devem alguma coisa, mesmo que a reputação de "The Rain People" seja muito mais modesta que a de qualquer um dos três.
I didn't want to run away with you. I wanted to run away from you.
Natalie is in an unhappy marriage and recently discovers that she is pregnant. She decides to runaway and try to find herself. She feels that once she finds herself she'll know whether to keep the baby and continue the marriage or have an abortion and start life over. As she drives, she encounters a mentally retarded young man that she can't seem to get rid of. The young man will change her life forever.
"Go to hell. At least I know you'll be taken care of there."
Francis Ford Coppola, director of The God Father trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Jack, The Rainmaker, Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, and Dementia 13, delivers The Rain People. The storyline for this picture is very well written and contains awesome characters. The acting is brilliant and the cast includes James Caan, Robert Duvall, Shirley Knight, and Tom Aldredge.
"Bitch, how many times do I have to tell you to stop talking like a little tramp?"
I DVR'd this picture off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) during a recent Robert Duvall marathon. I watched this picture first due to it being directed by the infamous Coppola. I will say this film is a masterpiece and truly underrated. Caan and Duvall are awesome and Knight delivers a classic lead character. I strongly recommend seeing this picture and potentially adding it to your DVD collection.
"Where would a dumb dumb like that get a thousand dollars?"
amazing early effort from coppola caan & duval r hot!
A very good small film with excellent performances by Shirley Knight, James Caan and, most memorably in a small role, Robert Duvall. I was on the faculty with his brother Augie at CSULB when this was released. Augie got a copy and showed it to a strongly favorable reception. Now it is not even listed on Netflix as among his films he has directed even though they list other films of his not available. Too bad. I think it would find an audience if it were more easily available.