Plot: What’s it about?
As the ground begins to dry up and farmers face the reality of lost crops, even a single drop of rain could turn a somber mood into pure happiness. The skies have been quiet for a long while and if rain doesn’t come soon, tragic times are sure to be ahead. As options begin to run out, the farmers start to look for any kind of answer to their problem, even ones that sound insane. Bill Starbuck (Burt Lancaster) is a man who sees a chance to turn this tragic situation into a profitable one. He knows how desperate the farmers are for rain and how they would pay any price to make a shower fall. So he tells them he is a rainmaker, a man with the power to force nature into releasing water from the heavens. Of course, he doesn’t deliver on his promise, but he still collects his fee. But his latest target proves to be more than he bargained for, when he falls in with a beautiful woman, who happens to be pursued by the local law.
As I have said in previous reviews, I have never been a fan of westerns. I have seen more than I could count, but only a small number stand out to me. I’ve enjoyed many of them, but on the whole, I would rather watch other genres over westerns. The Rainmaker is a western of course, but what drew me to the picture was the cast, which is quite impressive. The leads are solid gold, with Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster, while Lloyd Bridges heads a solid band of supporting players. As I found out as I watched, The Rainmaker is not the standard western, even though it does remain loyal to genre conventions. The focus is taken off the rough and tumble action, instead placed on romance and yes, even humor. I found The Rainmaker to be passable, but too long and a little corny at times. But Lancaster and Hepburn are in solid roles here, so if you need a western to rent, then The Rainmaker wouldn’t be a bad option.
Video: How does it look?
The Rainmaker is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie is almost five decades old, so I didn’t expect much from this presentation. Although no restoration work has been done, the elements look more than acceptable. The print does have some signs of age, such as light grain and minor debris, but for a fifty year old movie print, you can’t complain much. The contrast is usually stark and stable, but can be a tad off in the darker scenes. Not enough to ruin the visuals, but enough to notice and this is a review after all, so I do think it should be mentioned. So while some minor age related woes do come up, this movie looks quite good here and fans should be satisfied.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track is decent, but don’t expect much above the basics here. The music comes through in fine form and has little distortion, while the sound effects are very well presented, more dynamic than expected. The dialogue is clean and crisp throughout, with no real complaints to be made. This isn’t a flashy track by any means, but it gets the job done and in the end, that’s what counts. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.