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The Rains of Ranchipur(1955)
India. The spoilt and stubborn Edwina Esketh, comes to a small town with her husband. She falls in love with an indian doctor, Dr. Safti. She also meets an old friend of hers, the alcoholic Tom Ransome. An awful earthquake is followed by days of rain.
For more about The Rains of Ranchipur and the The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray release, see the The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 12, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Lana Turner, Richard Burton, Fred MacMurray, Michael Rennie, Joan Caulfield
Director: Jean Negulesco
» See full cast & crew
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 12, 2012
When one of her earliest Hollywood claims to fame was being labeled The Sweater Girl, it probably goes without saying that the professional film community wasn't overly impressed or frankly overly concerned with Lana Turner's acting ability. The young (as in young--namely 16) girl caught the eye of a powerful publisher at a local soda fountain and got the girl an agent (Zeppo Marx, no less) almost within minutes of his discovery. Even the legendary Jack Warner simply assumed Lana was just another pretty face, and didn't put up much of a fuss when Lana matriculated to the much more glamorous ranks of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. But even at Metro Lana was thrust into roles that depended more on her physique than any intrinsic acting ability, and while she made any number of high profile films during her forties heyday, and was at least reputably professional in virtually all of them, few would ever accuse her of having the sort of innate performance abilities that some of her Metro cohorts did. Turner occasionally was able to hint at untapped depths in films like The Postman Always Rings Twice, but Metro seemed insistent on casting her in glitzy roles, and once her box office appeal started waning, and the studio system itself was on the verge of collapse, Metro didn't seem to know what exactly it wanted to do with her. It was toward the end of Lana's long contract with Metro that she made The Rains of Ranchipur, a Fox behemoth that was in fact a remake of a 1939 Fox film that Lana had been considered for back at the beginning of her career. Turner had a long history of conflict with many of her leading men (she couldn't stand John Garfield in Postman, for example), and that evidently was the case once again in this film, as she found Richard Burton intolerable. (It's ironic how both Postman and Ranchipur simmer with sexual tension between the respective stars, so either Lana was a great actress or perhaps, to paraphrase a famous quote from Hamlet, the lady doth protest too much.
Lana and Michael Rennie portray Lady Edwina and Lord Albert Esketh, two jaded souls entangled in a marriage of inconvience. Edwina like Albert's classy sounding title, and Albert loved Edwina's fabulous fortune. Unfortunately the years have not been kind to the couple, and they barely tolerate each other, as is made clear in a blistering little opening scene where they lay their emotional cards on the table. They're on the way to Ranchipur, where Albert hopes to buy a prize show horse from the local Maharini (Eugenie Leontovich). Once they arrive, a "childhood friend" of Edwina's, local ne'er-do-well "town drunk" Tom Ransome (Fred MacMurray) shows up, seemingly riling Albert just a little. Tom on the other hand is being hounded every so nicely by sweet young thing Fern (Joan Caulfield), who feels with a little help, Tom can give up his nasty drinking habit and amount to something after all.
Into this roiling melodramatic stew glides a young Indian doctor named Rama Safti (Richard Burton), a man who has already written a book which has made him an international celebrity and who has been hand picked by the Maharini to be her successor. Edwina is immediately drawn to Safti, first as a sort of exotic toy with whom she plays like a cat might with a mouse, but who soon actually captures her heart—if she actually has one. This star-crossed love affair across a cultural divide may in fact remind some prescient viewers of another glamorous 1955 Fox production, one that is certainly better remembered than The Rains of Ranchipur, namely Love is a Many Splendored Thing.
Ranchipur unfortunately falls far short of Splendored's more relatively stately depiction of this same general setup for a number of reasons. First of all, Edwina makes for an extremely unlikable main character, and the audience is basically rooting against her for the entire film, even when she shows certain traces of nobility of character (not many, mind you, but some). There's also some (hopefully) unintentionally risible dialogue throughout the film (my personal favorite is when a well intentioned nursemaid offers Edwina some aspirin for her incipient malaria). But Jean Negulesco, never a director one associates with much subtlety, gives the film a positively Douglas Sirkian feel, one that is also fairly redolent of the kind of trashy big budget Ross Hunter fare that would soon become Turner's stock in trade.
The big earthquake and flood scenes which cap the film's climax offer a temporary, if jolting, respite from the emotional turbulence that has filled the bulk of the film, ironically offering up a physical catastrophe in the place of one of the heart. While The Rains of Ranchipur did okay box office back in its day (though it was considered a failure due to its huge production costs), it's hard to imagine that many people left the theater feeling much of anything other than a sense of relief that they made it out of all the overblown melodrama alive.
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Rains of Ranchipur is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Twilight Time with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.55:1. This CinemaScope feature offers a high definition master (provided by Fox to Twilight Time) which is mostly smashing (no pun intended, considering the earthquake aspect of the film). Elements are in great shape, with only a couple of very minor blemishes dotting the proceedings. There are also a couple of longer opticals here that look quite a bit softer and grainier than the bulk of the film, as should be expected, as well as a couple of sequences using rear projection that show their age. Colors are generally excellent, though flesh tones seem just very slightly on the brown side of things. The image retains a very natural layer of grain and fine detail is quite admirable throughout this presentation. Still, this doesn't quite pop with the extreme clarity of some other CinemaScope offerings we've had (including from Twilight Time).
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Rains of Ranchipur original four track stereo mix is very nicely rendered via lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 audio. 1955 was still in the relatively early days of multitrack stereo for feature films, and the sound mixers here were obviously playing with their new toys, really aware of even minute placement differentiation even in relatively uneventful dialogue scenes (listen for example in the early scene where Caulfield is invited to the dinner with the Maharini, how her mother's voice clearly pans from the right channel to the center as the character moves). The film's beautiful Hugo Friedhofer score also sounds magnificent, especially in several cues that feature ethnic instruments. Dialogue is very crisp and cleanly presented, and there's some surprisingly wide dynamic range, especially in the rock 'em, sock' em climax with an earthquake and several floods, not to mention one big dynamite explosion.
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Rains of Ranchipur is an undeniably turgid melodrama, which is not to say it's not enjoyable on its own hammy merits. Turner over emotes rather gratuitously throughout the film, but the rest of the cast does rather well, especially Burton, who probably found the rather ridiculous trappings of this film beneath him, but who manages to register more than a little dignity in his portrayal of the noble Doctor Safti. Jean Negulesco evokes a certain exoticism, faux though it may be, and Milton Krasner's gorgeous cinematography makes the most of the film's locale (even if some rear projection looks awfully dated by today's standards). More cynical types (and I wouldn't argue very vociferously if some placed me in that category) may be prone to laugh at some of the film's overtly silly dialogue, but those who are swayed at least as much by ambience as by content may find the romanticism of the film enjoyable. This is another nice looking and great sounding release from Twilight Time, and it comes Recommended.
The Rains of Ranchipur: Other Editions
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The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Twilight Time Blu-rays for September and October - August 8, 2012
Twilight Time has revealed its Blu-ray selections for November and December. The newly announced Blu-rays include The Rains of Ranchipur, Bonjour Tristesse, Beloved Infidel, The Blue Lagoon, and Lost Horizon. The Rains of Ranchipur and Bonjour Tristesse street ...
The Rains of Ranchipur Blu-ray Screenshots
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