The Rain People
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola
Written byFrancis Ford Coppola
Produced byBart Patton
Ronald B Colby
StarringShirley Knight
James Caan
Robert Duvall
Marya Zimmet
CinematographyBill Butler
Edited byBlackie Malkin
Music byRonald Stein
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • August 27, 1969 (1969-08-27)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Rain People is a 1969 film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Shirley Knight, James Caan and Robert Duvall. Coppola's friend and fellow director George Lucas worked as an aide on this film, and made a short 1968 documentary titled Filmmaker about the making of the film. The film also won the Golden Shell at the 1969 San Sebastian Film Festival.

The film received mixed reviews, but modern reception is more often positive.

The current DVD release from Warner Archive appears to be from a 16mm print.[citation needed]


Natalie Ravenna sets off on a drive in a family station wagon. She gives a ride to a strapping young man, Killer, who had been a college football star but had sustained a serious head injury and was given one thousand dollars to go away.

On their first night together, in Natalie’s motel room, she orders Killer around and makes him show her his muscular body. She tells him she is pregnant and had given him the ride to have a one-night affair with him, but then she sends him to his own room.

Natalie drives Killer to the home of a one-time girlfriend of his whose father had once promised him a job, but that family wants nothing to do with him and Natalie takes him with her when she drives away. While they travel west she twice comes close to finding him work and a place to stay, only to decide that Killer would be taken advantage of. She also twice leaves him at the side of the road, only to change her mind.

At their next stop Natalie makes a collect phone call and it is revealed that she left a husband at home when she took off. During a subsequent call days later her husband pleads with her to return home, saying he will do anything to make her happy.

Things become complicated when Natalie gets involved with a handsome but lonely highway patrolman, Gordon, and after a night out he takes her back to his place.



At the time, Duvall and Caan lived with each other and were doing a few films together. Later, they and Coppola teamed for the film The Godfather.[citation needed]

The film features about 2-minutes and 44 seconds of footage filmed on the streets of Chattanooga, Tennessee amid the city's annual Armed Forces Parade. A majority of the clips were shot near the main intersection of what is today Martin Luther King Boulevard and Market Street.[2]


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and compared Natalie Ravenna's quest to that of the Peter Fonda character in Easy Rider, and called them both "lineal descendants of the most typical American searcher of them all, Huckleberry Finn." He concluded: "It's difficult to say whether his film is successful or not. That's the beautiful thing about a lot of the new, experimental American directors. They'd rather do interesting things and make provocative observations than try to outflank John Ford on his way to the Great American Movie."[3]

According to "This odd odyssey was not a hit, even though over the years it has been regarded as one of Coppola's more personal pictures and has attained a limited following."[4] Margarita Landazuri writes on "It has acquired a cult status as an early feminist film for its provocative treatment of a woman seeking her own identity."[5] The work currently has an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[6] In 2015, David Canfield named The Rain People as one of Coppola's five best films, calling it "hypnotic".[7]

See also


  1. ^ Gelmis, Joseph (1970). The Film Director as Superstar. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 177.
  2. ^ Phipps, Sean. "Video: Chattanooga's downtown featured in scenes from 1969 film "The Rain People"". Nooga Today. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 19, 1969). "The Rain People". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  4. ^ "The Rain People". TV Guide. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  5. ^ Landazuri, Margarita. "The Rain People". TCM. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  6. ^ "The Rain People (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  7. ^ Canfield, David (May 21, 2015). "The 5 Best Films of Francis Ford Coppola". IndieWire. Retrieved May 12, 2017.