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The Rain People (1969)

R | | Drama | 27 August 1969 (USA)
When a housewife finds out she is pregnant, she runs out of town looking for freedom to reevaluate her life decisions.
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Caan ... Jimmy Kilgannon - Killer
Shirley Knight ... Natalie Ravenna
Robert Duvall ... Gordon
Marya Zimmet Marya Zimmet ... Rosalie
Tom Aldredge ... Mr. Alfred
Laura Crews Laura Crews ... Ellen (as Laurie Crews)
Andrew Duncan ... Artie
Margaret Fairchild Margaret Fairchild ... Marion
Sally Gracie Sally Gracie ... Beth
Alan Manson Alan Manson ... Lou
Robert Modica Robert Modica ... Vinny Ravenna
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Storyline

Having discovered that she is pregnant, Natalie Ravenna, 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 named Killer, an attractive brain-damaged football player. It is through Killer that a more disturbing question is posed 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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Her hang-ups weren't much...Just a husband and a baby on the way. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 August 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Liebe niemals einen Fremden See more »

Filming Locations:

Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The brief flashback scene, in which James Caan rakes leaves at school, was shot on Hofstra University's campus, where Francis Ford Coppola had studied drama. See more »

Quotes

Gordon: You are in some kind of trip?
Natalie Ravenna: Yes.
Gordon: Where?
Natalie Ravenna: West.
Gordon: Where West? California?
Natalie Ravenna: Yes.
Gordon: Why California?
Natalie Ravenna: It's the far west I can go.
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Connections

Referenced in Artifact from the Future: The Making of 'THX 1138' (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Coppola's greatness is emerging....
30 March 2016 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

On the road, driving aimless westward, New York housewife Natalie Ravenna (Knight) finds out her unexpected pregnancy and needs some alone time, so she leaves her asleep husband a note and a breakfast, then starts her peregrination all by herself.

Coppola's fourth feature and he was 29 when the movie is shot, THE RAIN PEOPLE is an unsung gem prior to THE GODFATHER (1972), using extreme close-ups, mood-reflecting camera-work, Coppola retains a sober and intuitive acumen to guide Natalie on a liberation trip where she battles between her maternal instinct to a former college footballer Jimmy (Caan) and her flirtation with a macho highway patrolman Gordon (Duvall), to an end where an impending crime of passion arrives as a fatalist blow to a woman who is brave enough to go out on a limb, flout social conventions and abides by her true feelings, no matter how fickle they are.

Caan's Jimmy, whose nickname Killer turns out to be rather ironic, first appears as an ingenuous hitchhiker, a suitable object for some uncomplicated dalliance, but in a tantalising segment of playing Simon Says in the motel room, the libidinous foreplay of dominance and obedience hits a sudden swerve when Natalie realises Killer is a simpleton suffering from brain damage during a match, and now is discharged from the college with a compensation of a thousand dollars. Since then, Killer becomes a sweet burden to her, his sweetheart refuses to take him in, he botches the job she finds for him, what can she do with him? She has her own issues to deal with, especially when Gordon comes into her life, she cannot hold the responsibility to take care of Killer anymore, his affection for her can never be reciprocal and the world is too cruel a place for him, he will be eaten alive. The upshot is a bit rash to plunge Killer to the locale of the trailer park, but it strikes home with an emotional upheaval mirrors our own lament of the departed innocence and a pure soul.

The cast is extraordinary, two-times Oscar nominee Shirley Knight imprints an indelible mark with her pyrotechnic rendering and James Caan is never so unassumingly moving, whereas Robert Duvall is virile and menacing, yet, Gordon's own tale-of-woe implies the duplicity of his character, a worldly-wise kind but fatally flawed.

In the form of a frivolous road movie, THE RAIN PEOPLE is an in-depth examination of a woman balking at a life-altering moment, how she has to come to term with the responsibility of bringing up a new life in this world (will she keep the baby? it is an open question, but the ending suggests yes), through her chance-meeting with a child-like Killer and also sharply chastises a morally downgrading society, male-chauvinistic, avaricious and wanting of sympathy. It is a wonderful movie which is criminally underestimated by its time but has no difficulty to pick up new audience, not just as a footnote of Coppola's massively hallowed THE GODFATHER and its sequel.


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