Based on the novel “Dog Soldiers” by Robert Stone, every frame of 1978’s Who’ll Stop the Rain is heavy with the disenchantment surrounding the Vietnam War. Soldiers who had gone to war as innocent young men, came back hardened, having seen more violence than anyone ever should. Filled with music by Creedence Clearwater Revival Who’ll Stop the Rain is the kind of gritty, postwar tale that highlighted the late 1970’s.
Eager to make some money, war correspondent John Converse (Michael Moriarty) talks his buddy merchant marine Ray Hicks (Nick Nolte), into smuggling a brick of heroin back home to San Francisco. When he gets there, Converse’ wife Marge (Tuesday Weld) will pay him for a job well done. Of course, things don’t go as planned. First, Converse and Hicks have no idea Marge has become addicted to dilaudid, making her judgement suspect at best. When Hicks discovers he’s being followed by thugs connected to Converse, he and Marge go on the run with the heroin in tow. Eventually they are pursued by corrupt DEA Agent Antheil (Anthony Zerbe), who initially set up the drug deal.
On the road, Hicks must decide what to do when Marge begins experiencing withdrawal. Eventually, Hicks decides to use the heroin to wean her off her dependence, as the days pass, the couple get to know each other and romance blossoms. Still, Hicks knows that Antheil and his men will stop at nothing to get the heroin back. Surreal and full of dark humor, Who’ll Stop the Rain becomes a real thriller as Ray and Marge fight to survive.
Filled with some memorable sequences—Hicks injects several acquaintances with heroin to escape capture—there is plenty of excitement to offset the central characters lack of depth. Ray comes up with a final plan to avoid capture, but there is no clue whether they will survive. Very risky, it’s a risk worth taking in a bid to survive.
Nick Nolte is perfect as a tough guy who knows how to handle any situation. At the same time, he’s sensitive enough to handle the needs of someone in deep emotional pain. Largely known for her girl next-door roles, shows an ability to play a woman beaten down by circumstances.
Who’ll Stop the Rain comes to Blu-ray with a transfer derived from a new 2K scan of the original interpositive. From its dreamy flashback sequences, to its gritty look of the present, the image is solid and seems true to the original intention. While clarity and delineation could certainly be better, the balance is still impressive. The shift between various sequences are good. Colors reveal a nice range. There is no significant damage or debris present.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 won’t blow you away, but it does the job. Gunfire and other ambient sounds aren’t as full as one might expect, but precision is decent. Fidelity is solid throughout. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English SDH subtitles are available.
The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historians Daniel Kremer and Scout Tafoya.
- Interview with Actor Richard Masur (HD, 12mins)
- Interview with Associate Producer Roger Spottiswoode (HD, 14 mins)
- Interview with Screenwriter Judith Rascoe (HD, 12 mins)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 mins)