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Source of the photo: http://www.virtual-history.com/

Source of the photo: http://www.virtual-history.com/

The screen version of the homonymous novel by Louis Bromfield, “The Rains Came” is one of the greatest films made in 1939. Starring Myrna Loy, George Brent and Tyrone Power, this production of the 20th Century Fox Studios was a big hit, earning an Oscar for Best Effects, and also five nominations, for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music. It was directed by the masterful Clarence Brown, who was loaned by MGM, like Myrna Loy, to the 20th Century Fox for this film. “The Rains Came” is beautifully photographed, with lots of impressive scenes – especially the earthquake and the floods. It was a great accomplishment for 1939, which is considered “Hollywood’s greatest year”, as many top films and masterpieces appeared then, such as “Gone With The Wind”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Women”, “Ninotchka”, and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. In “The Rains Came”, aside from the wonderful music by Alfred Newman and the special effects that were as effective as the ones that I saw in “The Good Earth”, the real attraction were the actors’ performances (and the good looks of Tyrone Power as the Indian Major), the costumes and the exotic settings. The film’s budget was also a huge one for those times, approx. $2.600.000, but it had enough earnings, as it was amply publicized in the international press. I, personally, liked very much the acting of George Brent, who reminds us of Clark Gable, and Tyrone Power and Maria Ouspenskaya were also impressive, but I have to admit that Myrna Loy was terribly miscast. There were times when not even she realised what to do with the scene. We are all accustomed to see her as William Powell’s wife in “The Thin Man” series – witty, funny, very distinguished and ladylike. In the role of Lady Edwina Esketh, the ideal choice would have been Jean Harlow, but unfortunatly she died in 1937. Another good choice would have been Greta Garbo (who appeared in a quite similar film opposite George Brent, and that was “The Painted Veil”), Marlene Dietrich or Joan Crawford, so that is why I really can’t understand what made them cast Myrna Loy. She was good, because she was a very fine actress, but her acting was superior in other films. All in all, “The Rains Came” is a top film, without being a masterpiece. You will like the atmosphere and also the direction of Clarence Brown – especially in the romantic scenes between George Brent and the young Brenda Joyce, who was a pleasant surprise among the supporting actors, and who later played Jane in the “Tarzan” films from the 1940s. I might as well add that there was also a remake, “The Rains of Ranchipur”, from 1955, directed by Jean Negulesco in glorious Technicolor, with a perfect choice for the leading role, Lana Turner, but with a disastrous performance of Richard Burton as the Indian Major.

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