Friday, September 9, 2016

Rain for a Dusty Summer (1971)

A clumsy retelling of historical events that were previously dramatized by director John Ford in The Fugitive (1947), this low-budget melodrama begins with the crazed ruler of a Mexican state declaring war on the Catholic Church, then tracks the journey of the last priest to evade the strongman’s grasp. Despite telling an interesting story full of intense sociopolitical themes, Rain for a Dusty Summer—also known as Guns of the Revolution—doesn’t work. The first problem stems from misleading credits, since Ernest Borgnine has top billing for his role as the brutal dictator. Borgnine appears in the movie so fleetingly that it seems as if he shot all of his material in an afternoon. (Adding to the forgettable nature of his appearance, Borgnine’s weak attempt at a Spanish accent comprises little more than pronouncing the name of his character’s country as “Me-hee-co.”) The next big problem involves tone. Scenes depicting the priest’s adventures as he moves from one hiding place to another are gentle and lighthearted, complete with chipper music that would seem appropriate accompanying circus performances. The dissonance between serious subject matter and silly style destroys the film’s credibility. Accordingly, whenever the filmmakers try to get heavy, as during the downbeat final scene, it’s as if they're rebooting the movie while it's still underway. And while Humberto Almazán is okay in the leading role—affable in a Disney-flick sort of way—his lack of dimensionality derails any efforts to render narrative complexity. In fact, it’s easier to list the many things Rain for a Dusty Summer lacks—among them a compelling secondary villain and a viable sense of urgency—than to identify praiseworthy elements. Thats why its probably best to stick with the Ford version of this worthwhile material, or to wait for someone else to tackle the story in the future.

Rain for a Dusty Summer: LAME

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