Having discovered that she is pregnant, Natalie Ravenna (Shirley Knight), a Long Island housewife panics and leaves home to see if she might just possibly have made something different out ... See full summary »
Having discovered that she is pregnant, Natalie Ravenna (Shirley Knight), a Long Island housewife panics and leaves home to see if she might just possibly have made something different out of herself; if she can manage to unshackle her grocery list worth of responsibilities that add up to a life with a husband she loves. In a motel room where Natalie stops to rest during the day, she sits motionless on the bed, and experiences the exuberance of complete freedom and the queasy feelings of new beginnings. Natalie continues on with her journey and picks up a young hitch-hiker -Killer (James Caan), an attractive brain-damaged football player. It is through Killer that poses a more disturbing question to Natalie than that of domestic responsibility. How deeply are we wedded to chance meetings and are we responsible for the crimes that we witness? Written by
Just caught "The Rain People" on Turner Classic Movies late one night. The film was released in 1969. Shirley Knight stars as Natalie, a Long Island housewife who -- exact reasons unknown -- leaves her husband and embarks on a road trip, not knowing exactly where she is going. Natalie is also newly pregnant, which complicates things. Along the way, she picks up a brain-damaged ex-football player "Jimmy" (James Caan), who has been kicked out of his college and is hitchhiking. There are many twists and turns along the way between these two, as Natalie struggles to take care of Jimmy and she begins to realize he is mentally limited and cannot take care of himself. She is going through her own struggles, needless to say, and in no position to care for him. Natalie appears to be a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown at times; she makes some odd phone calls to her husband, who begs her to come home. Natalie tries to dump Jimmy several times, only to have him re-enter her life through circumstances. A young Robert Duvall plays a strange and troubled cop who befriends Natalie. You get the sense all along that this film is going to end badly, and it does. This film is certainly uneven at times, and the script is somewhat lacking. Francis Ford Coppola directed this, and of course he would soon become immensely famous in the next few years for directing "The Godfather." The actors are good ones, needless to say, as they all would have futures ahead of them in film. Shirley Knight is the least known of the three, although she is also underrated as an actor. James Caan is especially effective here and he seems to just inhabit this character. This film remains little more than a curiosity now, no doubt because it is an early movie of Coppola's, and I confess I had never heard of it. So God bless Turner Classic Movies for bringing it to a new audience.
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