As film apes life, rain is inevitable in the cinema. Wet weather has driven plot, established a range of moods, and symbolically drenched countless spurned lovers and star-crossed suitors in untold romantic comedies. Thrillers and horror films use dark weather to cultivate a sense of dread – though if you’re going to get murdered, it would be much better to face your doom on a sandy beach, holding a Mai Tai.
Wait, weren’t we supposed to be happy it’s raining?
Let’s bring it back to the brighter side of spring – the cleansing feeling of the first spring downpour. April showers and their consequent May flowers, the last clumps of hard-packed snow melting off the sidewalk, Easter bunnies rutting amongst the chocolate eggs – you know, spring!
Each movie not only includes a pivotal rainy scene, but a rainy scene that advances the story in a hopeful way – all set to some of our favorite tunes. After this winter from hell, we all could use some upbeat music, dammit.
In the musical romance “Top Hat” (1935), it’s love at first dance for Jerry (Astaire) and the stunning Dale (Rogers), until Dale mistakenly believes Jerry is already married. Beyond the ineffable Astaire-Rogers chemistry, the real stars are a buttery Irving Berlin score and meticulously choreographed dance numbers. Featuring the song “Isn’t This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain)”, Fred and Ginger come together on a rainy afternoon to re-kindle a romance. As always, Fred’s prospects improve on the dance floor. Were it only true for the rest of us. Stream "Top Hat" HERE!
The animated classic “Bambi” (1942) marks one of Walt Disney’s crowning achievements. Bambi, a young deer born in the forest (where else – St. Jude’s of the Briar?), must face life's savage realities when his mother becomes a delicious dinner for some lucky hunters. Before he becomes an orphan, however, there’s a scene where Bambi discovers the wonders of the natural world with the advent of spring. Set to the delicate strains of “Little April Shower,” it’s movie magic – unless the vicissitudes of life have turned your cynical heart to stone.
Singin’ In The Rain
Sure, it’s obvious, but we musn’t omit “Singin’ In The Rain” (1952), with the most iconic rainy scene in film. A tribute to (and satire of) the ‘20s, when Hollywood transitioned from silents to “talkies,” Gene Kelly plays Don Lockwood, an established star who falls for talented unknown Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Don schemes to advance her prospects by derailing the career of longtime co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), a shrill femme fatale who sounds like a “Little Rascals” impersonator. With a tight script, catchy period music, and athletic dancing routines, “Rain” is the funniest and amongst the best musicals ever made. Stream it HERE!
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Cultural touchstone “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” (1961), from Truman Capote’s novella, would not be a classic without Audrey Hepburn’s bewitching presence. Audrey is Holly Golightly, a small-town Texas girl immersed in the glitz of New York’s social scene. George Peppard plays love interest Paul, a struggling writer. Will these two transplants get together? Late in the film, when Holly’s cat gets caught in the rain, we get our answer, set to the crescendo finish of Henry Mancini’s Oscar-winning “Moon River.” Bring your hankie. Stream it HERE!
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
From one touching ending, we finish with an unforgettable beginning, in Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964). “Cherbourg” begins with an ingenious overhead shot of rain falling on multi-hued umbrellas, while a soft rendition of Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait for You” plays underneath. Ninteen-year-old Catherine Deneuve plays Genevieve, who works in her mother’s umbrella shop. She madly, truly loves Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), but then the poor guy gets drafted for military service, and the toll of separation gradually undermines their future. Demy’s visually sumptuous masterpiece is unique in that it’s all-sung, with no spoken dialogue. Thanks to a magical score by Legrand, it works.