Blu-ray Review The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray Review

Matt Hough

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Jean Negulesco’s The Rains of Ranchipur is one of those talky melodramas from the 1950s that promises more heat, more passion, and more thrills than it ultimately delivers. In the vivid Deluxe color of its day and on the wide, wide Cinemascope screen, it must have been quite a visual spectacle for movie audiences even if it was somewhat dramatically torpid. Watching it today, it may have lost the full grandeur of its widescreen theatrical release, but the color is still vivacious, and there are stars aplenty at which to gaze.





The Rains of Ranchipur (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jean Negulesco

Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
Year: 1955
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 104 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 English
Subtitles:  SDH

Region: 0
MSRP: $ 29.95


Release Date: November 13, 2012

Review Date: November 3, 2012




The Film

3/5


Lady Edwina Esketh (Lana Turner) and her husband Lord Albert Esketh (Michael Rennie) have a loveless marriage: he married her for her money; she married him for his title. They arrive in the Indian province of Ranchipur to buy some horses, but she’s immediately swept off her feet by the alluring Dr. Major Rama Safti (Richard Burton), and as she had done so often in the past with countless other men, begins to have an affair with him. Despite warnings and even an official censure from the provincial Maharani (Eugenie Leontovich) to let the doctor do his duty for his people, the couple continue their affair and plan to leave India together. A tiger attack on her husband which leaves him hospitalized delays their plans, and then an outbreak of plague and the seasonal rains which become more and more severe throw further obstacles in the path of the young lovers.


Merle Miller’s screenplay and Jean Negulesco’s direction keep emotions throughout at a surprisingly low simmer rather than allowing the two leads (each known for heavy emoting in previous dramas) to plunge headlong into what could have been aggrandized purple passions played out on the big screen. Writer and director have also included a secondary love story regarding professional alcoholic Tom Ransome (Fred MacMurray) and virginal Fern Simon (Joan Caulfield) that’s likewise tepidly developed. (Ransome is also involved in some late reel heroics which get thrown away rather carelessly.) With neither love story offering much in the way of involving developments, we’re left with admiring the gorgeous cinematography by Milton Krasner and some interesting supporting performances. And, of course, there are also the climactic disaster scenes where a combination of earthquakes and the tumultuous rains create cinematic havoc which earned the film its sole Oscar nomination and its major reason for existing (Fox’s original film version of the novel, 1939’s The Rains Came, snatched the Visual Effects Oscar away from The Wizard of Oz that year).


Lana Turner offers a curiously erratic performance: she doesn’t take full advantage of the part’s wildly erotic sensibilities as she would do in her later melodramas for Ross Hunter but seems content to look porcelain-perfect and have one or two good give-and-takes with co-stars Michael Rennie and Eugenie Leontovich. Those two give the best performances in the film: he aware of his shortcomings and refusing to bow to self-pity and she continuously imperious while realizing she holds no real power. Richard Burton underplays his role rather well possibly realizing he’s one of the least convincing Hindi in screen history. Fred MacMurray has an undeniable presence as the drunken playboy, but Joan Caulfield is rather forgettable as the young graduate student newly touched by love.



Video Quality

4.5/5


The film’s Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.55:1 is faithfully presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Much of the imagery is breathtakingly splendid with excellent color saturation (reds and greens come off particularly well) and flesh tones that are wonderfully accurate and appealing. Contrast is consistently maintained, and only a shot or two against rear projection screens have a more digitized look that doesn’t blend well with the scenes before and after. Image quality is also beautifully clean with no age-related artifacts to mar the presentation. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 sound mix is remarkably true to its era. There is directionalized dialogue that gives a nice spread to the front soundstage, and dialogue throughout has been well recorded and presented though ADR is sometimes glaringly obvious. There is some ambience heard in the mix (the safari sequence stands out), but most of the spread to the rear soundstage occurs with Hugo Friedhofer’s marvelous background score which gets a terrific treatment in this transfer. Don’t expect the disaster sequences to contain thundering Earthquake-like sound effects through the mix, however. The sound design there just isn’t that sophisticated.



Special Features

2.5/5


Hugo Friedhofer’s splendid score for the film is given an isolated music track feature presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. It’s a vivid presentation of this excellent music.


The disc offers three 1080p trailers, all running 2 ½ minutes. There is also a TV spot ad that runs ½ minute.


The enclosed six-page booklet contains a nice selection of black and white and color stills, the film’s poster art on the back page, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s enthusiastic celebration of director Jean Negulesco and some astute observations about the film in question.



In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average)


The Rains of Ranchipur is not a great Hollywood melodrama, but its combination of big stars, Cinemascope, and alluring color photography in an exotic locale makes this a Blu-ray well worth experiencing. Only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray disc are available, so those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They can also be reached via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.  




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 
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benbess

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Thanks for this review. I've been curious about this title, because I've actually enjoyed The Rains Came on TV a couple of times over the decades. But this makes me think that this particular title is not quite worth the price for what would likely be a single viewing.
 

Robin9

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benbess said:
Thanks for this review. I've been curious about this title, because I've actually enjoyed The Rains Came on TV a couple of times over the decades. But this makes me think that this particular title is not quite worth the price for what would likely be a single viewing.
As I am a major fan of Jean Negulesco and Fred MacMurray and am also fond of Lana Turner - all three in my opinion seriously under-rated talents - I am willing to pay the high price for this disc. I'm also an admirer of Milton Krasner and Hugo Friedhofer.
I'm very pleased that this film has been released on a high quality BRD.
 

Robin9

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MattH. said:
[COLOR=000000]
Merle Miller’s screenplay and Jean Negulesco’s direction keep emotions throughout at a surprisingly low simmer rather than allowing the two leads (each known for heavy emoting in previous dramas) to plunge headlong into what could have been aggrandized purple passions played out on the big screen. Writer and director have also included a secondary love story regarding professional alcoholic Tom Ransome (Fred MacMurray) and virginal Fern Simon (Joan Caulfield) that’s likewise tepidly developed.
No-one ever chews the scenery in a Jean Negulesco film, not even Richard Widmark in Road House, and that's one of the reasons I like Negulesco's work.
 

Matt Hough

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Originally Posted by Robin9 /t/324935/the-rains-of-ranchipur-blu-ray-review#post_3997385
No-one ever chews the scenery in a Jean Negulesco film, not even Richard Widmark in Road House, and that's one of the reasons I like Negulesco's work.
Not even Suzy Parker in The Best of Everything? I don't agree, but then, she wasn't much of an actress.
 

Robin9

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MattH. said:
Not even Suzy Parker in The Best of Everything? I don't agree, but then, she wasn't much of an actress.
Suzy Parker didn't chew the scenery. The neurotic character she was playing did to some extent but Suzy Parker didn't overplay what the screenwriter had given her.
 
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I pre-ordered this primarily for the Friedhofer score (the main reason I also ordered The Barbarian and the Geisha), but I have a weakness for Cinemascope films with stereophonic soundtracks anyway. And Twilight Time is a great label that I want to support. I'd been wanting a really good presentation of "Bite the Bullet" for years, and they provided it!!
 
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Joe Caps

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the funny part of the film is Joan Caulfields character. She is supposed to be the underage virgin.
Well, ten years before this,she made Blue skies. She was 24 when she made that film. by the time of Rains, she's 34, hardly the young virigin. very odd.
Those who only know the original film, the Rains came, should be prepared for a different ending,
In the original, the Lana turner character dies from the disease. In the remake, she does not.
Note: Spoiler tags added by moderator.
 

Billy Batson

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Joe Caps said:
the funny part of the film is Joan Caulfields character. She is supposed to be the underage virgin.
Well, ten years before this,she made Blue skies. She was 24 when she made that film. by the time of Rains, she's 34, hardly the young virigin. very odd.
Well she was a young looking 34. It seems off screen Richard Burton & Lana Turner did have a fling. I think it happened a lot with Richard Burton, he was having an affair with two co-stars while filming The Robe, Jean Simmons & Dawn Addams. All those women, all that booze, todays stars are lightweights :)
 

Lromero1396

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It's funny how nobody has mentioned the cameo John Banner (Sergeant Shultz on "Hogan's Heroes") made in this film as an Indian police sergeant. :D
I would also like to ask just how much of the isolated score track has survived. Apparently when the CD was mastered a while back, only about 20 minutes of the scoring stage recordings of Friedhofer's score could be found. Has the entire score been included on the BD or just those 20 minutes?
Additionally, does anyone know if this transfer was sourced from the HD master used for the Region 2 DVD release or from an entirely new 2K or 4K image harvest?
 

benbess

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Since it was on sale for $10 as part of TT's "bundle special" I finally picked up this one. Even though it adds color, CinemaScope, and Lana Turner, somehow for me it can't hold a candle to the original movie, The Rains Came, starring Tyrone Power. Is there any chance for The Rains Came on blu-ray?

There are still interesting things in this movie, and I'd recommended it at the price for those who like movies of the 50s.
 
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Robin9

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I like movies from the '50s and I like this one.

I think it's an excellent disc and when I get through my current backlog of unwatched discs, I'm going to watch it yet again.
 
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john a hunter

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I think Burton is very good as the "Welsh Hindu".
I think it is a mark of acting ability to be able to play good without being insipid. He does here and even to greater effect in Becket which of course is in a different league to Rains enjoyable though that it is.
 
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benbess

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I think Burton is very good as the "Welsh Hindu".
I think it is a mark of acting ability to be able to play good without being insipid. He does here and even to greater effect in Becket which of course is in a different league to Rains enjoyable though that it is.
Yes, Burton is good in this.
 

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