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Burt served in the Marines during the war, but now he is confined to an asylum. His experiences in the South Pacific left him mentally ill and deathly afraid of storm clouds and rain. Stella, his girl friend, hopes Burt's sister Betty, and his brother-in-law Lou, will take him in so as to help him recuperate. However because of their young children, Betty and Lou are afraid of inviting him to live with them. Can Burt be helped? How can he find a life outside the mental hospital? Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
Strange little domestic drama concerning ex-soldier Ralph Meeker's attempts to readjust to civilian life many years after the war. Generally happy and normal, he can't handle rain, as it serves as a frightening reminder of the rain-soaked conditions he was constantly exposed to during one particularly brutal war time stint.
An extremely handsome looking movie, I was surprised at how the director, Fred Wilcox, composed so many of his shots in such a glistening, almost immaculate way. There always seems to be a lot going on inside the frame. It's visually exciting, almost experimental at times, a novel choice for this subject matter. There's one almost David Lynch-ian scene where Meeker is making an important phone call, and the little daughter is playing in the background, wandering through the house with a bag over her head saying "Give me some eyes. Give me some eyes". Filmed in a dream-like, consciously artistic way, it's quite odd.
All the performances are fine, especially James Whitmore's. He nails the big scene at the end, even though the important revelation about Meeker is sort of a dud. The film is also noteworthy in that it contains two well written women's roles. Nancy Davis plays a loving housewife and mother, but she's complicated and rounded out in a way that most women in these sorts of films around this time weren't allowed to be. And Jean Hagen plays a difficult, rather confounding mental hospital nurse who falls in love with Meeker. Frankly, their whole relationship felt a little confused and hurried but at least Hagen was not the typical angelic girlfriend.
This is a pretty intelligent, realistic and sensitively handled examination of mental illness. And it achieves the somewhat remarkable effect (almost as if it were a horror film) of portraying the simple event of rainfall as something sinister and threatening - its occurrence to be feared not just by Meeker's character but by all those who care about him as well.
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