Readers Write In #483: Classics on YouTube – The Rains Came (1939)

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Readers Write In #483: Classics on YouTube – The Rains Came (1939)


By Vijay Ramanathan

Note: YouTube’s vast repository includes a multitude of wonderful movies in many languages – some hidden gems, and some that are hard to find elsewhere. In this series of articles, I will share some of my favorite classic movies freely available on YouTube, along with a brief analysis. The videos are not posted by me, and I do not benefit from anyone viewing them.

The first visually striking aspect of The Rains Came is actually the title cards that transition as if washed away by water. That’s what drew me in when I first saw this movie as a high-schooler. What kept me watching was the engaging filmmaking, and the top-notch acting. 

The Rains Came is a luscious melodrama set in the fictional state of Ranchipur in pre-Independence India. Clarence Brown, who later helmed classics like National Velvet and The Yearling, skillfully directs this affecting story of love, sacrifice, duty and responsibility. Myrna Loy is fantastic as Lady Edwina Esketh. She’s the crafty “bad woman” who finds true love, and her calling in Ranchipur. Tyrone Power who plays Major Rama Safti is brilliant as a doctor carrying the weight of Ranchipur’s hopes and expectations on his young shoulders. The fabulous Maria Ouspenskaya is simply outstanding as the Maharani.

Brown and his cinematographer, Arthur C. Miller, bring out the emotional weight of the story with effective composition, and deliberate camera movements. Take the scene where Edwina is on duty at the hospital, and accidentally drinks from the wrong water glass; or the penultimate scene where Rama meets Edwina at her hospital bed. Or indeed the very last scene when Rama takes on his new responsibilities. They’re all just so wonderfully done. The screenplay by Philip Dunne and Julien Josephson, while not perfect, is efficient and balances multiple character arcs while moving the plot along. 

There is definitely a Euro-American gaze and an Oriental hangover in The Rains Came. Some of the Indian characters (for instance, Mr. Bannerjee) are caricatures. The Indianized elements of the background score sound stereotypically Asian or Middle Eastern. A few dialogues and assertions feel jarring when viewed from an Indian context, and particularly from the present-day. In fact, all the Indian characters are portrayed by non-Indian actors. This doesn’t sit well at all with present-day notions of on-screen representation. These are all fair and appropriate criticisms of The Rains Came. The problems cannot be ignored even in retrospect. The film, nonetheless, is a cinematic endeavor that deserves our attention. The movie’s overall thrust is firmly pro-India. It speaks of a modern and developing India represented by Major Rama. And it is indeed Rama who finally leads Ranchipur into the future.

You can watch this classic Hollywood movie for free on YouTube at

Higher resolution versions (better suited for larger screens), are available digitally for rent on YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video. The Academy Award-winning Special Effects are impressive when viewed in hi-res.


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