The incisively written screenplay (by Merle Miller, based on the novel The Rains Came, by Louis Bromfield) makes it very clear from the opening scene. The marriage of Lord and Lady Esketh (Michael Rennie and Lana Turner, respectively) is on the rocks. He (first name Albert) married her for money, she (first name Edwina) married him for status. But the two despise each other. They’re traveling to Ranchipur, a town in India, to possibly purchase a show horse. After that, divorce seems eminent, at least according to Lord Esketh.
As interesting as all this is, Ranchipur is stolen outright by Fred MacMurray as Tom Ransome, a former acquaintance of Edwina’s. He was, in his day, an outstanding engineer. Now he’s an ambitionless alcoholic. Sweet young Fern (Joan Caulfield) takes an interest (and a little pity, quite honestly) in Tom. She’s attempting to put herself through school and needs all the help she can get. In this pre-women’s lib era, her goals are frowned upon. Even Tom seems skeptical. Their friendship is a story thread that runs parallel, but largely separate from, the main one involving Edwina and Dr. Safti. But everyone is drawn together when natural disaster strikes.
The real pleasant surprise with this Blu-ray comes in the form of audio. Films of this era often carry 1.0 or maybe 2.0 mono soundtracks – totally appropriate, since the majority of films were released that way back then. Ranchipur boasts an impressive 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that really springs to life during the disaster scenes late in the film. It sounds great the whole way through, but when the earthquake strikes and the dam breaks, this thing sounds practically like a modern movie.
Extras are light, but Twilight Time’s standard music-only track is present. This allows us to hear Hugo Friedhofer’s lush, as times exotic, score isolated in 2.0 DTS-HD. Trailers and a vintage TV spot are offered up as well. Julie Kirgo contributes the informative liner notes essay.