Plot: Georgette (Lee Remick) and her young daughter are en route to a fresh start in a new town, or so she hopes. Her husband Henry (Steve McQueen) has just been released from prison and while on parole, he plans to stay in his hometown, where Georgette will meet him to put down some roots. Henry has long chased his dream of being a singer and has never even met his daughter to this point, so a transition to a more normal life seems like a tall order. After all, the nature of pursuing his music career, then prison hasn’t prepared him to settle down. He is given support at every turn, but he longs to return to the stage and in that kind of environment, he is likely to engage in some of the behaviors that landed him in trouble over and again. Can Henry make the most of this second chance and keep his family together, or will he choose the more glamorous, but selfish path instead?
Entertainment Value: This thoughtful, well crafted drama has all the right elements in place, from skilled direction to a great cast to beautiful visuals, the kind of movie that remains memorable long after the end credits. The small town atmosphere is authentic and even oppressive at times, you can feel the walls close in the characters and how Henry’s past has caged him in, at least in some ways. The narrative is capable and is more character driven, as Baby the Rain Must Fall invests in depth and development, to take us inside these people’s lives. This is especially true of Henry, who we are given a deep dive into, but the movie devotes some time to others where needed, as well as the general world involved. The pace is on the slow side, but that suits the small town feel just fine and as the material is driven by characters, it never feels dull in the least, just more laid back. I think this is just well made in all respects, perhaps not a classic or one you’ll revisit often, however. Even so, it is a terrific movie that has a lot to offer, so Baby the Rain Must Fall is well recommended.
This is likely not the kind of movie most people associate with Steve McQueen, but he turns in a superb performance here. McQueen is able to show flashes of his tough guy persona, but is also reserved at times and shows a more grounded side, a balance that is crucial to make the character work. As much as I love McQueen’s grittier, hard edged roles, it is a pleasure to watch him in action here as well, as he is able to show off more of his dramatic side, including more subtle moments. That’s not to say he should have won Best Actor, but he puts in some remarkable work in this one and proves he had the chops to back up his movie star persona. Lee Remick is fantastic here as well and while McQueen might lure in more viewers, it is Remick’s performance that carries the movie and is its strongest effort. The cast also includes Ruth White, Don Murray, Paul Fix, and Josephine Hutchinson.
The Disc: Baby the Rain Must Fall hits Blu-ray via Twilight Time, who issued the movie in a limited edition run. The movie looks excellent in this treatment, with a nearly pristine print and impeccable fine detail throughout. The film’s black & white visuals look crisp and very refined here, with consistent and well balanced contrast. I knew the movie would look good from Twilight Time, but this transfer surpassed all of my expectations, superb work. The disc also includes the film’s trailer.