Who’ll Stop The Rain – directed by Karel Reisz — action adventure drama about a man entering into a drug deal out of loyalty to his best friend – 2 hours 6 minutes, color, 1976.
* * * * *
I wanted to turn this off several times at the start. Drugs. I don’t take drugs and am fed up with the subject in films and won’t see movies about people dealing with them. And the reason is that Drugs steal the drama. They supplant the tensions, difficulties, and cross-purposes between people that make drama happen. But, I saw Kazan’s The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs on Broadway when Tuesday Weld was young. And something simple and straightforward in Nolte’s technique caught my attention. And eventually I saw that this film was not about slick crime but the reverse: about the tragedy of human professional ineptitude. Weld, like many Method actresses, suffers from failed vocal production, which makes her mousy and weak, where she needs to be in agony. Otherwise, she is fascinating. Michael Moriarty, playing her husband, is glassy-eyed and elsewhere, with a flat vocal affect that gives you Out To Lunch. He plays an ex-Marine gone back to Viet Nam as a photographer, and, though a clean cut chap, decides to export a load of smack to be carried by his best friend from the Marines, now a merchant seaman, played by Nick Nolte. They don’t know it, but they are out of their shallows as professional drug runners. And they come up against a series of similar incompetents. The story revolves around the mortal peril incompetence leads to, and the script brilliantly expands on this to give us a world run by inept decisions. Nolte is alone the warrior professional. The difficulty is that his main enemy is a Three Stooges trio whose slightly overplayed comic folly over shadows their ineptitude, resulting in a failure of tone. The motto is: If you can’t get anyone better, make do with what you’ve got, and then watch it kill you.