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The Rainmaker (1997)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  21 November 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 42,798 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 137 user | 90 critic | 19 from

An underdog lawyer takes on a fraudulent Insurance company.


(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kelly Riker
Wayne Emmons ...


Rudy Baylor is a jobless young attorney. However, he is also the only hope of an elderly couple whose insurance company will not pay for an operation that could save their son's life. In this judicial drama, Rudy learns to hate corporate America as he falls in love with a battered young married woman. Will he be up to the task? Written by Steve Richer <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They were totally unqualified to try the case of a lifetime... but every underdog has his day.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a strong beating and elements of domestic abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Grisham's The Rainmaker  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,626,507 (USA) (21 November 1997)


£823,492 (UK) (8 May 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) first meets Deck (Danny DeVito), Deck tells him he sat for the bar exam six times, but hasn't yet passed. In"My Cousin Vinny," Vinny (Joe Pesci) tells Stanley Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) that he also sat six times to pass the bar exam. See more »


When handed a computer printout to read on the stand, Wilfred Keeley played by Roy Scheider opens the printout like a book and finds the data. Closeups show the printout is in landscape mode and couldn't be read as Keeley does. As the reading wasn't challenged by Baylor (Matt Damon) the position of the printout wasn't scripted. See more »


[first lines]
Rudy Baylor: My father hated lawyers all his life. He wasn't a great guy, my old man. He drank and beat up my mother; he beat me up too. So you might think I became a lawyer just to piss him off. But you'd be wrong. I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I read about the Civil Rights lawyers in the 50s and 60s, and the amazing uses they found for the law. They did what a lot of people thought was the impossible. They gave lawyers a good name. And so I went to law school. And it did piss my father ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a credit for "Poet in Residence". See more »


Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Michael Mann (2001) See more »


Five Long Years
Written by Eddie Boyd
Performed by Muddy Waters
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Vastly under-appreciated film
12 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie is not a movie that makes you think. It's not arty, there are no Corleones, there's really no issues to ponder long after the credits have stopped rolling. Instead it's a human drama that uses a courtroom battle as its backbone, but the entire body is the honestly-told if ultimately remarkable of a greenhorn lawyer trying to make a life for himself after law school. Like the more recent "Garden State" the movie is far more interesting than one would initially expect.

I recently read the Grisham novel that the screenplay was adapted from and was impressed by the memorable cast of the characters. The corrupt-and-loving-it Prince and Bruiser, Deck Shiflett as the skeezy "paralawyer" who scrapes out a living with an amusing lack of self-consciousness, the bitter-tempered first judge and his pioneering, biased black successor, the politely patronizing and puffed-up Legal Titan Leo Drummond, Cliff and his straight-from-Deliverance hillbilly family, lonely and slightly bossy Miss Birdie, chain-smoking Dot and her addled husband, all of them set a standard for memorable but believable characters.

Yet the movie is itself a cut or two above the original material. The extended cast does a hands-down fantastic job of bringing each character to life. First billing has to go to Danny Devito for transforming Deck from Rudy's unscrupulous and ugly sidekick in the novel, into a more take-charge and casually hilarious partner. Just take a look at the scene where he leads Rudy into the hospital or when he's giving out his card to the kids in Dot's neighborhood. But that's just one of about twenty stellar acting jobs. The extended cast includes Danny Glover, Jon Voight, Claire Danes, Mickey Rourke (yes!), Virginia Madsen, and a handful of other talented but lesser-known actors who show their absolute best through the skillful lens of Coppola.

Besides the stellar job by the cast, the story is tweaked to absolute perfection. Whether it's the Coppola magic or an excellent adaptation and editing job, I see a transformation similar to his triumph with "The Godfather": an absorbing but complex and sometimes rambling story is condensed into its absolute essence. Not a single shot is out of place.

Something else struck me about this adaptation -- it reminds me of Peter Jackson's LOTR in the way comic moments are used to balance out the weightiness of the main plot. For example: in LOTR Merry and Pippin set off Gandalf's dragon fireworks, or in the second movie Gimli can't see over the parapet towards the advancing Uruk-hai, or in the third movie Sam and Gollum have their argument over the proper preparation of rabbits and 'taters and Gandalf instructs Pippin to keep his big mouth shut before they enter the hall of Minas Tirith. Likewise "The Rainmaker" has its little touches of humor as well, from the sardonic lawyer jokes in Rudy's voice-over, to the scene where Deck fake-helpfully hands over Drummond's lost shoe after he's been assaulted by an angry juror, to Rudy's red-faced apology to the car accident victim in traction whom he has accidentally jostled, to Madsen's laconic yet particularly devoted husband Bert. ("Guess who DIED last night?" "...Do you ever sleep?") There is anxiety during Kelly's return to her house, the suspense of the bug showdown, the pathos of Rudy's final speech: all these combine with the lighter moments to balance each other like a film version of Pickapeppa sauce.

Who could have ever guessed that a Grisham novel could be so perfectly adapted to the screen?! Just try watching the "Pelican Brief" afterward for comparison. My hat is off to Coppola, his cast, and everyone else who contributed to this understated masterwork.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Ending donny619
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