Who'll Stop The Rain
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Two-time Oscar(r) nominee* Nick Nolte is like a champion achieving cinematic immortality [in this] knockout adventure destined to become a classic (Washington Post). Co-staring Tuesday Weld (Falling Down) and Michael Moriarty (TV's Law & Order ), this 'savage, paranoid thriller (Newsweek) is acted brilliantly and cast perfectly [and] one of the year's best (The New York Times)! Fresh from the bloody battlefields of Vietnam, Ray Hicks (Nolte) does hisfriend Converse a favor, smuggling a stash of heroin back to the States. But when Ray goes to deliver the drugs, he and Converse's wife, Marge (Weld), are ambushed and barely escape with their lives!Suddenly on the run from two ruthless thugs and a murderous cop, the unlikely pair must find a way to get along and survive a perilous double-cross in this gripping nightmare adventure (New West) that quickly becomes a harrowing journey into hell (Newsweek). *1997: Actor, Affliction; 1991: Actor, The Prince of Tides
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Hicks: "What a bummer for the gooks."
I have to confess: I saw the movie "Who'll Stop the Rain," before I read the Robert Stone's, "The Dog Soldiers", the novel on which the screenplay is based. While I thought the book developed the characters and made them a little more understandable, I thought that overall, the movie was better storytelling.
First, Nick Nolte as Ray Hicks: Nolte does an outstanding job of interpreting Stone's vision of a modern American Samurai on a journey into hell. A former Marine with the discipline of a dedicated warrior, Hicks' motives and reasons for his own existence are mercenary in the extreme. I can't imagine anyone other than Nick Nolte playng this part.
Tueday Welde as Marge does not quite fit Stone's original version of the wayward schoolteacher who works as a ticket girl in the front of a seedy porno theater on the outskirts of San Francisco's tenderloin district. Welde comes across as a little less buxon and whorelike. In the book, Marge has few redeemable qualities and no spiritual values. Even though her part isn't as coarse, Welde still gives a pretty good interpretation of the character.
"Who'll Stop the Rain" closely follows the novel it was based on, but the screenplay diverges in several places: When converse contacts Hicks in Vietnam; When Hicks brings the packages to port in Oakland; When Hicks and Marge catch up to Eddie Peace; When Hicks and Marge reach the compound of Those Who Are. The screenwriters also saw fit to drop a minor character, Dieter, whose role in the novel version was as Ray Hick's mentor.
Fortunately, Stone also worked on the screenplay, so a lot of the great dialogue was still left in place with some minor alterations. "Who'll Stop the Rain" moves faster, cuts to the chase, and is very lean storytelling. There's not a lot of superfluous stuff, just a sequence of events that brings each of the characters into a quagmire of his or her own making - very much like "The Dog Soldiers".
Of course, both the movie and the novel are about a world going to hell over war and drugs. Both the movie and the book make a case that even though heroin is dangerous and lethal (Hicks calls it "the king of highs"), war is probably the ultimate drug.
The film hints at it, but "The Dog Soldiers" is more explanative about the origins of Hicks through his recollections before he dies. As he fades away, Hicks visualizes his past, which gives the reader an idea of how this character could have evolved into being.
If you want to know what Stone had in mind when he created Ray Hicks, read "The Dog Soldiers". If you want to see this vision enacted in a though-provoking, suspensful action movie, see "Who'll Stop the Rain."