• Who'll Stop The Rain

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: May 16, 2017.
    Director: Karel Reisz
    Cast: Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty, Anthony Zerbe, Richard Masur, Ray Sharkey, Gail Strickland
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Vietnam war correspondent Johnny Converse (Michael Moriarty) has seen enough action to last a lifetime, and in the battle-scarred wasteland of the South Pacific, comes to the realization that humankind's role on Earth has been reduced to that of pawns for the big shot moneymen and government controllers. Disgusted with the state of the world and the loss of 60's peace and love idealism, he makes a connection with a local drug dealer and purchases 2 kilograms of uncut heroin, which he plans to smuggle into the US and make a small fortune. But Johnny doesn't have the self-means or substantial body cavity to carry such an amount of smack through customs, so he turns to merchant Navy seaman Ray Hicks (Nick Nolte), a knowledgeable pot dealer to help him with the task. In spite of Ray's belief that smuggling hard narcotics will lead to a bad karma trip, a deal is struck, with Ray to drop the dope with Johnny's wife, Marge (Tuesday Weld) and receive the princely sum of 1,000 dollars in exchange for his trouble.

    Ray's plan goes swimmingly, and he's soon removing the drugs from a convoy of vehicles sent back through the port in Oakland, and heading to see Marge. He's not the only one with that destination, however, and he quickly realizes that he's picked up a tail. Zigging and zagging and a sudden U-Turn seems to evade his captors, but he spots the familiar vehicle waiting outside of Marge's house on his arrival. Slipping through the back is no problem, though, and it seems that Ray is soon to be headed into the night a little richer. What he and Johnny didn't count on is that Marge has picked up a nasty pill habit in the time that her man has been away at war, and has neither the money nor the inclination to believe that her husband is involved in the drug trade.

    That's an argument for another time, however, as Ray's tail, made up of two rough-and-tumble takedown artists in the employ of corrupt narcotics officers, come crashing through the door. Fortunately for Marge, Ray is faster and stronger, beating the two toughs to a pulp and fleeing into the night. Were that the end of the story, one could consider it a happy ending, but Johnny is also on his way home, with all kinds of ideas on where Ray might have split to...ideas that the reporter may give up if subjected to torture. Feeding Marge tiny bumps of heroin to assuage her pill addiction is an adequate solution at the start, but begins to slowly turn his traveling partner into a full-on junkie. From Ray's dilapidated shack in the desert to an abandoned hillside hippie commune, Ray attempts to keep one step ahead of the men who want the drugs he has, with an eye on selling them himself and heading to early retirement.

    Based on Robert Stone's award-winning novel Dog Soldiers, Who'll Stop The Rain is a dark and twisted look at relationships and ideals destroyed by the Vietnam war, with no real protagonist to speak of. Nolte's Ray seems like the most likely candidate to begin with, but his willingness to get involved with heroin trafficking just for the hell of it, the ease in which he inserts himself into Marge's insecurities, his flippant attitude toward human life and his non-reluctance in turning a woman he may be in love with into a hardcore narcotics addict makes him more of a prick than anything. Similarly, there's no good guy to be found in the character of Johnny, who's facade of innocence is ripped away when he quickly sells his wife and friend out to the bad guys with the slightest provocation and threat to his masculinity. Who'll Stop The Rain is a film without a good guy, without a rudder, and with no apparent message aside from the fact that the optimism and marches of the 60's generation meant nothing.

    Expertly directed by Karel Reisz with some severely bleak cinematography courtesy of Richard H. Kline, Who'll Stop The Rain rattles along like a freight train without an engineer from start to finish, hitting some disturbing stops along the way. Acting here is top notch, with everyone involved, including a solid supporting cast featuring Richard Masur and Ray Sharkey, turning in some fantastic and unexpected performances, and a fitting soundtrack that not surprisingly features Creedence Clearwater Revival playing every time a radio is available on screen. Who'll Stop The Rain is not a conventional war film, a conventional road film, a conventional anything film; by the time the dust settles and the credits roll, we're left wondering what in the hell it is we just subjected ourselves to.


    Who'll Stop The Rain comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer that looks good, despite showing its age in a few places. Dirt and damage are almost non-existent, but the picture does exhibit a muddiness here and there. Detail is solid, skin tones are natural looking and colours are dynamic, particularly in the daylight desert scenes, and compression artifacts are non-existent, though blacks tend to be less deep during the nighttime scenes.

    Audio is provided courtesy of a 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio English track. The sound is adequate for the film, but does show it's limitations in dynamics at a few points during the film, particularly the shootout scene. Still, dialogue remains clear and consistent throughout, and it lacks hisses and pops. English Subs for the Deaf And Hard of Hearing are available for this release, as is an isolated Music Track.

    An Interview witih Editor John Bloom (16:20) is a decent supplement, as he discusses his relationship with Karel Reisz, and his praise of the man. He also talks about the casting of the film and what he feels is the most powerful scene. It's a fairly wordy interview, though it does seem to run a little bit long...in spite of the rather short running time.

    A Trailer for the Film, the Twilight Time Interactive Catalogue, and insert essay by Twilight Time's Julie Kirgo is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Certainly an anomaly in the category of "War Movies", Who'll Stop the Rain occasionally taps its toes down into standard action/thriller territory, but manages to remain diverse and intriguing otherwise. Well worth seeing with some outstanding performances.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!