Watch The Rainmaker
- 2 hr 1 min
The Rainmaker is a classic 1956 film directed by Joseph Anthony, based on the play by N. Richard Nash. Considered a drama and romance, it stars the legendary Burt Lancaster as the charismatic con man, Bill Starbuck, who arrives in a drought-stricken town in the middle of the Great Depression. The film also features Katharine Hepburn, one of Hollywood's greatest actresses, as Lizzie Curry, a plain, unmarried woman who yearns for love and self-confidence.
The story begins with a parched, dirt-cracked landscape, where farmers and their families wait in desperation for the rain that might save their crops and livelihoods. At this critical juncture, Starbuck appears, promising to bring rain within 24 hours for $100. Naturally, the locals are skeptical and dismiss him, but Lizzie's father, H.C. Curry (played by the excellent Walter Catlett), who runs a cattle ranch and is desperate for water, hires Starbuck on the spot. As Starbuck woos the disillusioned Lizzie with his charm and salesmanship, he incurs the wrath of her older brother, Noah Curry (Wendell Corey), who considers him a dangerous fraud and a threat to his sister's honor and dignity.
As the film progresses, Starbuck's true nature and motives are revealed, as are Lizzie's vulnerabilities and strengths. Though the plot is simple and predictable, the film benefits from the sparkling chemistry between Lancaster and Hepburn, who infuse their characters with humor, pathos, and passion. Lancaster, in particular, excels as the roguish and poetic Starbuck, spouting poetic nonsense and irresistible flattery with equal ease. Hepburn, in contrast, portrays Lizzie with quiet intensity and vulnerability, illuminating her character's inner turmoil and longing for validation.
One of the strengths of The Rainmaker is its exploration of gender roles and expectations in the 1950s. Lizzie, like many women of her generation, is resigned to a life of spinsterhood and domestic drudgery, feeling unlovable and unattractive due to her plain looks and lack of suitors. Starbuck, on the other hand, is a symbol of masculine freedom and confidence, capable of conquering any challenge and winning any heart. However, as the film progresses, both characters defy these stereotypes and challenge each other's assumptions and prejudices, ultimately finding a deeper connection and respect.
The film also touches on themes of faith, hope, and deception, as the town's residents struggle with their own beliefs and doubts about Starbuck's abilities, as well as their own moral and ethical decisions. The ending is bittersweet and ambiguous, leaving the viewer to reflect on the power of imagination, the consequences of dishonesty, and the importance of finding one's own voice and identity.
Overall, The Rainmaker is a well-crafted and entertaining film, buoyed by its superb cast and memorable dialogue. While it may feel dated to some viewers, its universal themes and enduring appeal make it a worthwhile watch for fans of classic cinema and romantic dramas.
The Rainmaker is a 1956 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 1 minute. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.