Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Rains Came

Clarence Brown, 1939, bw (8.2*)
Very good early film about India, with some very expensive special effects for the time, which won an Oscar over Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind for those; they are of King Kong quality. Tyrone Power is an Indian doctor, trained in England naturally, doing his best to maintain dignity and help the poor citizens of Ranchipur. Myrna Loy is Lady Esketh, a woman of the world with too much time given her boring husband's negligence, so she sets her sights on the Indian doctor. H.B Warner and Maria Ouspenskaya play the local rulers, and Maria really shines here in another unforgettable performance. She seems to have been in nearly every film in those days; she was also in 39's Intermezzo.

The story really heats up during an earthquake sequence that leads a dam to collapse, then we see the special effects at work as thousands flee amid walls of water. This changes the lives of all involved, and Loy goes from her comedic sarcasm to a woman with a serious purpose in life, in perhaps her finest dramatic performance. There are other subplots of romance here but they take a backseat to the major disaster unfolding. This is a surprisingly good drama considering it gets lost among the other 1939 films, but perhaps after Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it's up there with the other dramas of that year to me.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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