The Rainmaker Studio: Paramount Year: 1956 Rated: NR Length: 121 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Audio: Dolby Digital English Mono, French Mono Subtitles: English Special Features: None Estimated Street Price: around $20 USD Release Date: July 12, 2005 The Rainmaker stars Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster in wonderfully affecting performances. Lancaster plays “Starbuck,” a wandering charlatan who sells Tornado Rods to people in towns prone to tornados, and the promise of rain to drought-stricken farmers. Hepburn, in her Oscar nominated role, plays “plain” Lizzy, a plain, tomboyish rancher in danger of becoming an “old maid.” Try as her father and brothers might, they can’t seem to make her a match. Even the local and available deputy sheriff can’t be persuaded to take an interest in Lizzy. Along comes Starbuck, promising rain to Lizzy’s family, who have lost much of their herd to thirst in a never ending drought. Lizzy, her father, and her brothers all know he’s a fraud, but they are so desperate they pay Starbuck $100 up front, to produce rain within 24 hours. Lizzy’s father says he’s lost more in an evening of poker, so it can’t hurt. It seems, though, that the deputy may be taking an interest in Lizzy after all, at the same time as Starbuck - and Starbuck is a wanted man. Not only that, but Starbuck seems to be the only one who is capable of giving Lizzy the confidence she needs. Wendell Corey is Deputy File, and Lloyd Bridges is Lizzy’s brother, Noah. Playwright Richard Nash transferred his hit Broadway play to the big screen. And, while the production definitely maintains a stagey feel, it also maintains the emotions of the original play. This story is about more than an old maid and a snake-oil salesman. It’s about loneliness, family, love, and living confidently. The Transfer This Vista-Vision picture is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Overall, detail is good. Occasional soft moments are made up for with moments of crystal clarity. Sharpness is not mitigated by ringing artifacts, which, while occasionally visible, are exceedingly mild. Colors are deeply saturated, but the hues tend to wander a bit. Not a major concern. There is a mild flicker that is frequently seen in transfers of older films - this is not a major distraction, either. Contrast is good, with fairly solid black levels. The print is reasonably clean. There are momentary flurries of dust specks and scratches, but longer segments with flaws too minor to mention. The picture isn’t perfect, but it is good for a film of its age that hasn’t seen any serious restoration. The sound is presented in Dolby Digital Mono. Frequency response is good, with nice rendering of lower frequencies. Higher frequencies seem slightly rolled off, perhaps to compensate for some hiss, which is mild but ever present in the sound track. Not a bad rendering of an old mono track, and probably about as good as the source would allow. Special Features None. Final Thoughts A familiar but enjoyable story with nice performances all around make for an entertaining couple of hours. The audio/video presentation, while not flawless, is good for a film of this age.