In India, a married British aristocrat is reunited with an old flame, but she truly has her sights set on a handsome surgeon.In India, a married British aristocrat is reunited with an old flame, but she truly has her sights set on a handsome surgeon.In India, a married British aristocrat is reunited with an old flame, but she truly has her sights set on a handsome surgeon.
"The Rains Came" is a story of redemption. Tom Ransome (George Brent) is slowly dissipating in the pre-independence Indian kingdom of Ranchipur when his decline is interrupted by the arrival of a former lover, Edwina (Myrna Loy). Now married to the elderly Lord Esketh (Nigel Bruce) Edwina is restless and bored.
She sets out to seduce Tom's friend, Indian doctor, Rama Safti (Tyrone Power), however she ends up falling in love with him. This disturbs the Maharani of Ranchipur who sees Safti as a future ruler of the kingdom, Then the rains come destroying much of Ranchipur and bringing out hidden depths of character in Tom and Edwina.
The 1939 version is a moody, artistic looking film. Myrna Loy is photographed with luminous close-ups and lighting accentuating cheekbones and lips. There is none of that for Lana Turner as Edwina in the newer version. Instead the Cinemascope process delivered static, overlit scenes that distanced us from the actors.
George Brent was always low-key, but it's what the role needed. Fred MacMurray played the same part in the later movie and his delivery suffered in comparison.
Richard Burton wears Safti's turban in "The Rains of Ranchipur". However it's not a good fit; he projects somewhat of a neurotic edge; it's hard to believe the passion he arouses in Edwina. On the other hand, Tyrone Power's calm demeanour and serenity in "The Rains Came" only enhanced his charisma.
Burton was not entirely to blame; he is required to spout volumes of sanctimonious drivel in his scenes with Turner. Things had changed in India and the script needed updating, however where a look said a lot in the "The Rains Came", the characters in "Ranchipur" say it.
The only character enhanced in "Rains" Mk II is Michael Rennie's Lord Esketh. It's a more intelligent characterisation than Nigel Bruce's blustering stereotype. The remake features location footage but it's not enough to elevate it above bland interiors and unbelievable characters.
Finally I was surprised at how good the first version is, but also surprised at how much the second one missed the mark.
- May 8, 2018