Category Archives: Robert Stone

Post-traumatic noir part 2: Who’ll Stop The Rain

A while ago on this blog I wrote about the 1981 Ivan Passer movie, Cutter’s Way.

Based ased on the 1976 cult novel Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg, it’s one of the best crime films to deal with the impact of America’s war in Vietnam.

But it gets a run for it’s money by a little known film I’ve recently discovered, Who’ll Stop the Rain (AKA Dog Soldiers) made several years earlier in 1978.

Who’ll Stop the Rain a paranoid, hard-boiled road trip through America’s counter-cultural underbelly and a devastating indictment of the impact of the conflict.

The film opens with war correspondent John Converse (Michael Moriarty) trapped in the middle of friendly fire. His voice over as he surveys the resulting carnage tells us:

“Military command has decided that elephants are enemy agents because the Vietcong use them to carry supplies. So now we’re stampeding the elephants and gunning them down from the air…In a world where elephants are pursued by flying men, people are just naturally going to want to get high.”

A former liberal disgusted by the war, Converse decides to buy two kilos of uncut heroin in Saigon and smuggle it back to California, where he plans to sell it at an enormous profit.… Read more

WUSA

Has anyone ever done dissolute as well as Paul Newman?

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hud, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, and the little known WUSA.

WUSA numbers among that great batch of films made in the early seventies, when the Hollywood studio system was in crisis and desperate to give anything a try. The counter-culture had worked its way into the mainstream (but was dying on the streets), the country was struggling to come to terms with its increasing violent engagement in Vietnam.

Released in 1970 and set in New Orleans, WUSA is a character study of three people, all in the wrong place at the wrong time, even if they don’t know it yet.

Joanne Woodward is Geraldine, a dishwater blond with a razor cut across one check courtesy of the abusive husband she left behind in Texas.

Anthony Perkins is Rainey, an idealistic Christian who thinks he’s been employed to do a survey to help the city’s black population, but has actually been set up by the city’s right-wing politicians to help them throw people off welfare.

Newman is Rheinhardt, a cynical alcoholic drifter. His first point of call after arriving in New Orleans is a church service on skid row being run by a fafe priest, Farley, who owes Rheinhardt a hundred dollars from a previous scam in New York. … Read more