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SHIRLEY KNIGHT AND JAMES CAAN IN COPPOLA'S 'THE RAIN PEOPLE'

Title: THE RAIN PEOPLE Year: 1969 Rating: ****

While his PATTON Oscar-winning screenplay gave Francis Ford Coppola the power and clout to direct two of the greatest (or perhaps the greatest) motion pictures ever made... both GODFATHER films... it was THE RAIN PEOPLE that proved he could invest worthy meantime depicting flawed human beings in an independent state-hopping road movie starring Shirley Knight as a married, newly-pregnant woman haunted with frantic memories...

And hitchhiking James Caan as a man-child who, once a star college football player having suffered a severe head injury, passively relies on Knight as a kind of mother figure — protecting him from various small town residents (from a college girlfriend's family to a shady roadside wild animal exploiter) when she can hardly take care of herself.

Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE

The best scenes are their moments together, trying to understand what one... Knight in a headstrong yet reluctantly sympathetic performance... is escaping from and the other... Caan with subtle, mindless finesse yet holding back formidable strength... is heading towards within the randomly rainy landscape — a kind of hopeless and melancholy character in itself...

Fading into a practically separate third act involving Robert Duvall as a highway cop with precocious, preteen yet adult-minded daughter Marya Zimmet (foreshadowing Dennis Hopper's OUT OF THE BLUE, she have had her own movie growing in a shoddy trailer park), the results are predictable yet inevitable and hopelessly universal — while Coppola's use of flashbacks help elevate the otherwise deliberately futile journey.

MARYA ZIMMER REFLECTS ON THE RAIN PEOPLE

MARYA ZIMMER: James Caan was easy to be with and work with. He and Bobby — not being pretentious, I still think of them as Bobby and Jimmy —- were pals during the filming. I don't remember any particularities about working with either of them —- no problems, no tension... 

I maintained contact with Robert Duvall (Bobby) after the shoot. Visited with him in Tuxedo Park, NY, where he lived. He had a chestnut thoroughbred, whom I rode. She "ran away" with me going around the ring, and Bobby stepped in front of her to grab her halter and stop her... I wasn't scared! I liked both Bobby and Jimmy. I just remember enjoying hanging out with them and Francis and the crew.

Marya Zimmet and James Caan in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Marya Zimmet in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Robert Duvall in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight stars in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight stars in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight stars in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight stars in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight and James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight and James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight and James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Margaret Fairchild and James Caan in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Laura crews in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Robert Duvall and Shirley Knight in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Tom Aldredge, Robert Duvall and Shirley Knight in THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Marya Zimmet in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Marya Zimmet in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Marya Zimmet in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Laura Crews and Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
Shirley Knight and James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
The one "reference" to Vietnam in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People with Shirley Knight
Bonnie and Clyde marquee in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
Shirley Knight in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People with Robert Duvall
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People with Shirley Knight
James Caan with Robert Duvall in The Rain People with Shirley Knight and Tom Aldredge
James Caan in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
Marya Zimmet as Rosalie in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People
Marya Zimmet as Rosalie in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People


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