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    Raining Hoopla

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Passionate love in the face of natural disasters always makes for great ad copy. From the studio that gave us In Old Chicago (1937), The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974) come these two examples. In 1939, audiences were in store for “Human emotions at their peak…Catastrophic powers of nature at their wildest!” when they saw The Rains Came, toplining Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power and George Brent as the romantics battered by the drenching showers, devastating earthquake and flooding dams besetting the Indian state of Ranchipur. Given that Hollywood studios love to retell a good story that’s proven profitable before, we have the updated version 16 years later: “Bursting the floodgates of emotion…Shattering all barriers of race and time…Sweeping everything before it in its torrential power…Never has the screen thundered to such earth-shaking climax! Theirs was the great sin…that even the great rains of Ranchipur could not wash away!” So blared the ads and trailers for The Rains of Ranchipur, a Cinemascope, DeLuxe Color and Stereophonic Sound upgrade of the Louis Bromfield best-seller unleashed in theaters 60 years ago this week with Lana Turner, Richard Burton and Fred MacMurray taking on the respective Loy, Power and Brent roles. Since the miracle of Cinemascope lent itself to largeness in roiling romance, dramatic impact and scenic spectacle, melodrama master Jean Negulesco (Johnny Belinda, Three Coins in a Fountain) caught the assignment, which involved transforming the Twentieth Century Fox ranch in Malibu to stand in for Ranchipur and tasking Ray Kellogg and his team to surpass the work that brought The Rains Came a Best Special Effects Academy Award®, besting fellow 1939 nominees Gone with the Wind, Only Angels Have Wings and The Wizard of Oz. A wizardly combination of matte paintings, miniatures, multiple-plane photography and travelling mattes (while still on a learning curve with regard to widescreen anamorphic lenses) did the trick, earning The Rains of Ranchipur a Best Special Effects Oscar® nomination (It was bested by The Bridges at Toko-Ri). For NZPete’s consideration of Fox’s achievement, visit his blog here: For the second time, the rains came, audiences saw, and a disaster epic conquered. Feel the rush with Twilight Time’s hi-def Blu-ray of this rattling good entertainment.