Film Review: The Rains Came

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Tyrone Power’s smouldering looks cannot hide that he is still not Indian, but hey – Mummy might be!

Way back in 1939, the disaster movie genre was churning out the last of the big power movies of its era. One of the last, and technically most impressive is The Rains Came – a film that carries enough mellow-drama and disaster staples to cement its place as one of earliest e examples of how the genre would be defined.

Released: 1939

Runtime: 1h 43 mins

The Premise

In a bizarre India where there are no Indians, a community is flooded first by rain and then by an earthquake shattered dam! See even then, you could throw as many problems as possible in a film!

The Disasters Faced

Water, earthquakes, floods, waves, buildings falling down, smoke inhalation from “sexy smoking”, plague, famine and camp fainting.

The Execution

The Rains Came clocks in at just over 100 minutes, which is lengthy for a film of its time but actually, now days feel quite pacey. We’re introduced to various class levels which house characters that easily pre-date any Titanic story of being trapped in society! Thankfully there’s also some boozy men and some Indian folk, led by Tyrone Power who looks very dashing indeed, but is sadly not Indian – nor is he made up to be. In fact the lack of speaking natives is really the films biggest downfall, along with the I’m-so-sexy-smoking-a-cigarette scenes. Otherwise, the film holds up remarkably well and there are no musical numbers (hurrah!) although a song is used at some points. The big disaster happens around 45 minutes in and the film switches pace and tact to more of a plague movie for the final third which keeps the suspense over whom will get picked off until the end.

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The sets and effects work really well. Matte painting effects also convey the scope of the drama too

The Effects

The sets look excellent, especially the lavish temples and the flooded village looks impressive and expensive. The actual dam breaking and the wave works well because of the films black and white nature and the fact they’ve merged a real wave and miniatures altogether. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – these effects still beat terrible TV CGI time and time again.

Why It’s Worth Watching

The Rains Came is interesting as it actually gives leading lady’s plenty of power and authority which is quite unusual for its time. Maria Ouspenskaya, who plays the Maharani runs the Indian temple delegates and demands and Myrna Loy actually takes head billing. Tyrone Power is the perfect gent for everyone to schmooze over and the film runs at a fiery pace for the first hour.

Drinking Game

Drinking game can be every time someone smokes in a really over the top manner or whenever you look at Tom and Fern and think the age gap between them really is a bit too awkward.

Favourite Character

Tyrone Power and Maria Ouspenskaya really have presence in their scenes and are the likeable duo but I also have a soft spot for Fern Simon who spends the entire film chasing a man twice her age, then gets in a boat and rows across a flooded village for him only for him to tell her to have a kip on his living room floor whilst he sets off with Myrna the wench! Bless…

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Myrna jumps from dress to rowing boat and back again throughout the movie with aplomb

Best Death

Got to be Lord Esketh being washed away as his house caves in – all whilst being told off by his servant!

Weirdest Moment

It has to be the seduction by cigarette scene. Not going to happen Myrna!

Random Trivia

Originally budgeted at 2.5 million, an extra 100k was added to make way for a new explosive ending.

Conclusion

Whilst it hams it up with an overwrought score and dramatic fainting in places, high production values, a likeable cast and a multitude of problems to solve ensure The Rains Came is one of the best examples of an early era disaster movie.

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