The Rains Came (1939)

The Rains Camerains came poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Written by Philip Dunne and Julian Josephson from a novel by Louis Bromfield
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

First viewing/Netflix rental

Thomas ‘Tom’ Ransome: [Describing Ranchipur to Lady Edwina Esketh] See, in Ranchipur, the important things in life are the elemental things, such as crops, starvation, and weather. In Europe, when someone says “It looks like rain,” in all probability, he’s trying to make polite conversation. But here, where people die as easily as they’re born, they’re speaking in terms of life and death. You’ll see what I mean, if you’re still here when the rains come. You’ll see them overnight turn the fields, the gardens and the jungles from a parched and burning desert, into a mass of green that seems to live, to writhe and to devour the walls, the trees and the houses.

Despite some over the top melodrama at the end, I enjoyed this disaster/romantic drama..

(The fictional) Ranchipur province  India is governed by a benevolent, progressive maharaja (H.B. Warner) and his wife (Maria Ouspenskaya).  The disreputable painter Tom Ransome (George Brent) has lived on the fringes of the palace for several years.  When Lord (Nigel Bruce) and Lady (Myrna Loy) Edwina Esketh arrive, Tom and the libertine Edwina apparently rekindle an old flame.  But Edwina is soon distracted by Major Rama Safti (Tyrone Power), a noted physician and court favorite.  She gets nowhere with the major until the rains come and an earthquake and dam failure inspire her to take pity on the sick and dieing.  With some great character actors, including Joseph Schildkraut, Henry Travers, Mary Nash, Jane Darwell, and Laura Hope Crewes.

rains came 1

I think this would have been a more interesting story if it had been made outside the strictures of the Hayes Code.  It was not bad as it was, containing many more wrinkles than I was able to include in my plot summary.  It was not easy to buy Tyrone Power as an Indian.  The rest of the cast was great and it was nice to see Myrna Loy back in a vamp role.

The Rains Came won an Oscar for its special effects.  It was also nominated by the Academy in the categories of: Best Black and White Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Sound Recording; Best Film Editing; and Best Original Score (Alfred Newman).

Clip – earthquake


2 thoughts on “The Rains Came (1939)

  1. You are right on target, Bea……this would have been a great pre-code film. The special effects aren’t bad for a film of this age but Power is hard to accept as the Indian doctor. George Brent is good as always…….he is practically forgotten today but was a staple in so many films in the 30s/40s and starred with some of the great ladies of the screen. A dependable actor but sometimes his toupee got in the way!!

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