Cast & Crew
Lord Alan Esketh, an impoverished Englishman who married for money, travels to the province of Ranchipur, India with his wealthy American wife, Lady Edwina. During their journey, Alan upbraids Edwina, who indulges in many love affairs, for her selfishness and greed. At Ranchipur, Edwina and Alan are greeted by the aged but regal Maharani, from whom they want to buy a prize stallion. The Maharani tells them she is hosting a dinner party in their honor, at which one of the guests will be Dr. Safti, her late husband's protégé. In the morning, Edwina is surprised by a visit from her childhood friend, engineer Tom Ransome, who has retreated to a life of quiet drunkenness in Ranchipur. Later, at the village's American mission, vivacious Fern Simon receives an invitation to the Maharani's party. Her mother does not want her to go unaccompanied, so Fern introduces herself to Tom and asks her to take him. Tom is nonplussed by the young woman's questions about his lifestyle but genially agrees to escort her. That evening, Edwina is attracted to the quiet Safti, much to the dismay of the Maharani. While Edwina blatanly stares at Safti, Tom and Fern talk on the balcony, and Fern asks Tom to loan her $1,000 so that she can attend teaching school in the United States. Fern explains that she does not want to marry the dull Englishman chosen by her mother, but Tom states that her reputation will be damaged if anyone learns that he gave her money. Tom promises to help her achieve her goal, however, and Fern's interest in the much older Tom grows. After the evening's entertainment, Edwina gets Safti alone and flirts aggressively with him, and he finds himself reluctantly responding. After the party, the Maharani explains to Edwina that she and her husband reared Safti after his parents, who were of the Untouchable caste, died. Safti served five years in prison for participating in the movement to free India, but since then, has become indispensible to Ranchipur. The Maharani orders Edwina not to interfere with Safti's career, to which Edwina blithely replies that she is not interested in his career. Soon after, Alan and Edwina accompany Safti on a safari to kill a man-eating tiger. At the camp that night, Alan tells Edwina that he is sickened by her behavior and will be filing for divorce. Edwina then dines alone with Safti, who expresses regret for flirting with her, and states that he will not be added to her collection of men. Edwina storms off but cries out when she sees a cobra. Safti rescues her, and finds himself comforting the crying woman with an embrace. The next day, Alan shoots the tiger but he is mauled when he goes to inspect the beast. Safti saves him and Alan is taken to the palace to recuperate. As time passes, Safti falls in love with Edwina and admits to his feelings when questioned by Alan. Alan protests that Edwina merely uses men before disposing of them, but Safti will not be dissuaded from seeing her. Safti then meets Edwina, who has genuinely fallen in love with him but fears that she will not be able to change. That night, as the rains descend on Ranchipur, Fern goes to Tom's house with the intention of spending the night on the couch. Fern explains that if everyone believes she has had an affair with him, no one in Ranchipur will marry her and her mother will be forced to find the money to send her away. Tom, who is falling in love with Fern, insists on taking her home, and explains that he became disillusioned after fighting in World War II. Later, the Maharani visits Safti's hospital, and there confronts her foster son. After Safti confesses that he loves Edwina, the Maharani decides to order her to leave Ranchipur. Soon after, at a party given by Mr. Adoani, the Maharani's aide, a drunken Tom, certain that Edwina will destroy Safti, exhorts her to abandon her affair with the doctor. Safti and Tom are about to come to blows when an earthquake rocks the area, followed by an even stronger one. Safti makes it across the river to the other side of the village just before the dam, weakened by the rain and tremors, crumbles and the village is flooded. The hysterical Edwina collapses, and Tom realizes that she is gravely ill. Tom spends the night looking after Edwina, while at the hospital, Safti tends to the hundreds of injured. Fern arrives at the Adoanis' house in a boat, which Tom uses to transport Edwina to the mission. There, Emily Smiley, the reverend's wife, nurses Edwina, who calls for Safti. Fearing that Edwina is dying, Emily sends word to Alan, who reveals to Safti that he truly loves Edwina and selflessly begs him to go to her. Safti cannot bring himself to leave the many people who need him, however, and soon Edwina recovers on her own. The area is still flooded due to a dam of debris at a narrow spot in the river, thus preventing travel from one side of the village to the other and increasing the risk of disease. Suddenly, an explosion rocks the village and the debris is blown away, freeing the water. After the floodwaters have subsided, Safti goes to the mission, where he reveals that Tom was the one who risked his life to clear the narrows. As a proud Fern embraces Tom, Safti finds Edwina, who is devastated that Safti knew she was ill yet chose to stay at the hospital. Safti, who is thrilled with the opportunity to rebuild the village and provide clean, safe housing for the Untouchables, tries to persuade Edwina to stay in Ranchipur. Later, however, Edwina and Alan prepare to leave the palace together. Edwina bids farewell to the Maharani, who bitterly rejects Edwina's assertion that she is finally committing a selfless act by going away so that Safti can achieve his goals unhindered. As Edwina departs, she is approached by Safti, who tells her that she must always see herself as he sees her, as good, kind and capable of great unselfishness. Heartbroken, Edwina leaves without a word to join Alan, who comforts her with a smile.
Dr. Yalhiraji Iyengar
Kan Thi Iyenger
Charles G. Clarke
Paul S. Fox
Stan H. Goldsmith
Ali Mohd Khan
Harry M. Leonard
Prince Daulat Masuda
Abdul Haq Rana
A. M. Hussain Razvi
Walter M. Scott
Lyle R. Wheeler
Best Special Effects
The Rains of Ranchipur (1955) -
The picture is based on Louis Bromfield's popular 1937 novel The Rains Came, which Twentieth Century-Fox had filmed under Bromfield's title in 1939 with Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy in the leads and Clarence Brown behind the camera. To direct the 1955 version Fox appointed Jean Negulesco, a studio veteran who had revitalized his career in 1953 with How to Marry a Millionaire, the first picture shot in the studio's brand-new CinemaScope process. Since then he had helmed three more 'Scope productions, learning the format's merits (expansive scale, spatial expressiveness) and demerits (optical distortion, higher cost) as well as anyone in the business. Teaming with cinematographer Milton Krasner, another early CinemaScope convert who'd made several pictures using the process, he created a widescreen spectacular that makes up in visual oomph (thanks partly to Lahore, Pakistan, where some material was shot) what it lacks in psychological depth and narrative logic.
The best way to describe the main characters is to quote the production's coming-attractions trailer. Lana Turner plays Lady Edwina Esketh, "the American heiress who always bought what she wanted." Richard Burton plays Rama Safti, "the Hindu Untouchable," and Fred MacMurray plays Tom Ransome, "the drunken idealist." Farther down the list, Joan Caulfield plays Fern Simon, a kittenish youth "who wanted her reputation ruined." And solid, stolid Michael Rennie plays Lord Albert Esketh, the "second-class husband" who married the American heiress for her money and has regretted it ever since.
Set in a fictional principality of India, the story begins when Albert and Edwina arrive at the palace of an aging Maharani to buy some thoroughbreds and enjoy the luxuries provided by their hostess. We learn at the outset that Albert is a husband in name only, cuckolded on a regular basis by any man who happens to catch Edwina's extremely active eye. At a sumptuous dinner party given by the Maharani in their honor, Edwina is pleasantly surprised to find her old friend Tom, a talented engineer who became a cynic while serving in World War II and now devotes his life to laziness and booze.
More important, Edwina meets the Maharani's protégé, Rama, a dedicated physician, former freedom fighter, and very handsome bachelor. While promiscuous Edwina and scrupulous Rama fall in love, frolicsome Fern makes a play for alcoholic Tom, figuring that if she has a trashy reputation she'll be rejected by the boring fiancé her mother has picked out for her - she doesn't want marriage, she wants to go to grad school! Tom takes Fern's advances in stride, but he's much more scandalized by Edwina's adulterous love affair than Edwina's long-suffering husband is. Fueled by righteous indignation and uncountable drinks, he tries to intervene in the affair during another gala party, and that's when the film's eponymous weather kicks in. When it rains in Ranchipur it pours, leaving Edwina desperately ill - although not dead, as in the original novel and the 1939 adaptation - and ultimately bringing out the best in almost everyone.
Hollywood censorship was starting to get shaky by the middle 1950s, and Fox clearly saw The Rains of Ranchipur as a chance to push the envelope a little. The word "damn" is uttered, and Tom is building up to the word "whore" when the climactic storm erupts, cutting off his sentence in the nick of time. The vividly filmed smooching between lily-white Edwina and darker-skinned Rama is also a tad daring by the racially conservative standards of 1955. True, the actors involved are as Caucasian as can be, and Burton's makeup gives him a hue that's only a smidgen darker than MacMurray's perpetual sunburn or the slightly smoky epidermis of Eugenie Leontovich, the Russian actress who plays the Indian potentate. But the studio played up the racial angle in its publicity: "Shattering All Barriers of Race and Time!" blared the trailer, as if taboos were crumbling all around.
The film's performances are generally sound, if rarely inspired. Turner gives the self-centered heiress a suitably hard shell in the early scenes, then convincingly softens it as romance with Rama blooms, and almost makes you believe that she's finally learned her lesson near the end. Burton ably deploys his chiseled face and steely gaze, and MacMurray is his usual amiable self, although for a guy who's constantly talking about how much he drinks, Tom never seems to be even a tiny bit tipsy. Caulfield is kittenish to a fault, Leontovich is regal and chilly, and Rennie makes much-abused Albert a sympathetic character instead of a merely pathetic one.
But the most memorable elements in The Rains of Ranchipur come from Krasner's photography and Ray Kellogg's special effects. The picture's cost ended up a million dollars more than the original $3.5 million budget, and the escalation of the special-effects tab from $260,000 to $400,000 was part of the reason - a well-justified expense, since Kellogg's crew earned the picture's only Academy Award nomination. (Then again, the 1939 version won the special-effects Oscar®, and received five other nominations to boot.) Hugo Friedhofer's score also enhances the melodrama, as do Travilla's costume designs, even if Turner's off-the-shoulder gowns seem oddly risqué in the buttoned-up surroundings of an Indian province. The Rains of Ranchipur is no masterpiece - you won't find it "Bursting the Floodgates of Emotion!" as the trailer promises - but your eyes and ears should find a good deal to enjoy.
Director: Jean Negulesco
Producer: Frank Ross
Screenplay: Merle Miller; based on a novel by Louis Bromfield
Cinematographer: Milton Krasner
Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler, Addison Hehr
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
With: Lana Turner (Lady Edwina Esketh), Richard Burton (Rama Safti), Fred MacMurray (Tom Ransome), Joan Caulfield (Fern Simon), Michael Rennie (Lord Albert Esketh), Eugenie Leontovich (Maharani), Gladys Hurlbut (Maude Simon), Madge Kennedy (Emily Smiley).
by David Sterritt
The Rains of Ranchipur (1955) -
The working title of this film was The Rains Came. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, the picture was originally to be shot on location in both India and Pakistan. Modern sources claim that India refused to grant the studio a filming permit, however, and contemporary sources reported that backgrounds for the picture were shot on location in Pakistan only. Some location shooting was also done on the Twentieth Century-Fox ranch in Malibu, CA, according to Hollywood Reporter news items.
Lana Turner was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which was her first for Fox. Hollywood Reporter news items include the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed: Paul H. Frees, Erlyn Botelho, Maxine Botelho, Anna May Fonte, Christopher Nava, Capt. Fernan Garcia, Sushila Janadas, Aladdin Sufi, Mary Lou Clifford, Daniel Ninez, Robert Pola, Tony Fillon, Arthur Mendez, Kanza Omar, Lei Aloha, Herb Pacheco, Gil Brown, Yuri Lani and Vi Ingraham. According to a September 16, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film's special effects budget was raised from an initial $260,000 to $400,000, and its overall budget was increased from $3,500,000 to $4,500,000.
The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects but lost to The Bridges at Toko-Ri. Actress Joan Caulfield was married to producer Frank Ross at the time of production. The Rains of Ranchipur marked her first film since the 1952 United Artists release The Lady Says No, also produced by Ross. Caulfield did not appear in another picture until the 1963 M-G-M release Cattle King (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).
Louis Bromfield's novel had previously been filmed by Fox in 1939. Entitled The Rains Came, the picture was directed by Clarence Brown and starred Tyrone Power, Myrna Loy and George Brent. According to a modern source, Turner had been considered for the role of "Fern Simon" in the 1939 production.
Released in United States Winter December 1955
Remake of "The Rains Came" (1939) directed by Clarence Brown.
Remade as "The Rains of Ranchipur" (1955) directed by Jean Negulesco.
Released in United States Winter December 1955