Who’ll Stop the Rain is a 1978 American crime film directed by Karel Reisz and starring Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty, and Anthony Zerbe. The screenplay was by Judith Rascoe and Robert Stone, based on Stone’s novel Dog Soldiers (1974).
The film opens in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War.
John Converse, a disillusioned war correspondent, approaches Ray Hicks, a merchant marine sailor and acquaintance of Converse from the US, for help in smuggling a large quantity of heroin from Vietnam to San Francisco, where he will exchange the drugs for payment with Converse’s wife Marge, who has become addicted to Dilaudid.
When Hicks gets back to the US and discovers he is being followed by thugs connected either to Converse or his suppliers, he goes on the run with Marge and the heroin, and eventually they are pursued by corrupt DEA Agent Antheil, who initially set the deal in motion. As Marge is separated from her supply of Dilaudid, she experiences withdrawal, and Hicks decides to help wean her off her addiction by using the heroin. Hicks also attempts to find another buyer for the heroin before his pursuers can catch up to him.
- Nick Nolte as Ray Hicks.
- Tuesday Weld as Marge Converse.
- Michael Moriarty as John Converse.
- Anthony Zerbe as Antheil.
- Richard Masur as Danskin.
- Ray Sharkey as Smitty.
- Gail Strickland as Charmian.
- Charles Haid as Eddie Peace.
- David Opatoshu as Bender.
- Joaquín Martínez as Angel (as Joaquin Martinez).
- James Cranna as Gerald.
- Timothy Blake as Jody.
- Shelby Balik as Janey.
- Jean Howell as Edna.
- José Carlos Ruiz as Galindez (as Jose Carlos Ruiz).
The film is based on Robert Stone’s novel Dog Soldiers (1974), which won the National Book Award (US) for fiction in 1975.
For its original US theatrical release it was re-titled Who’ll Stop the Rain, after the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, which features prominently (along with several other popular CCR tracks) on the film’s soundtrack. The film was released as Dog Soldiers in several places. Some copies of the DVD of Who’ll Stop the Rain contain prints titled Dog Soldiers.
Stone based the character of Ray Hicks on Beat writer Neal Cassady, with whom Stone became acquainted through novelist Ken Kesey, a graduate school classmate of Stone’s at Stanford University.
Hicks’ death scene on the railroad tracks at the film’s conclusion is directly based on Cassady’s death along a railroad track outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in 1968. The hippie commune setting, where lights and stereo speakers placed throughout the woods are utilised in Hicks’ escape plan, is partially based on Kesey’s home in La Honda, California, where Kesey and his friends – known as the Merry Pranksters – famously wired the surrounding woods with lights and sound equipment to enhance their experiments with LSD.
The Saigon scenes were filmed on a set in Mexico. There was a casting advertisement in Mexico City for people of any Asian background to represent the Vietnamese.
- Nominee, Palme d’Or Cannes Film Festival (Karel Reisz).
- Nominee, Best Actor National Society of Film Critics (Nick Nolte).
- Nominee, Best Adapted Drama Writers Guild of America (Judith Rascoe, Robert Stone).
- Nick Nolte wore a back brace during much of the filming to maintain a rigid Marine posture.
- The producers were lukewarm about casting Nick Nolte at first, instead preferring the more bankable Kris Kristofferson.
- Director Karel Reisz fought to get Nolte on board, having been impressed by seeing him in action on Rich Man, Poor Man (1976).
- The Saigon/Vietnam scenes were filmed in Mexico.
- A casting recruitment ad in Mexico City called for people of any Asian nationality to act in the film as Vietnamese.
- The ship seen as the S.S. Austral Glen began as the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze (AP-134) in 1943, built as a supply and troop transport for WWII.
- After the war, the ship transported refugees and displaced persons.
- During the Korean War it was again used for troop and supply transport.
- The ship returned to commercial service and was rebuilt as a container ship in 1958.
- It was renamed several more times, including the Austral Glen as seen here, before being scrapped in 1981.
Production & Filming Details
- Karel Reisz.
- Herb Jaffe … producer.
- Gabriel Katzka … producer.
- Sheldon Schrager … associate producer.
- Roger Spottiswoode … associate producer.
- Robert Stone … (novel).
- Judith Rascoe … (screenplay).
- Robert Stone … (screenplay).
- Laurence Rosenthal.
- Richard H. Kline … director of photography.
- Jennifer Shull.
- United Artists (1978) (USA) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1978) (UK) (theatrical).
- Kommunenes Filmcentral (KF) (1978) (Norway) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1978) (West Germany) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1978) (Japan) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1978) (Sweden) (theatrical).
- United Artists Corporation (1980) (India) (theatrical).
- CBS (1982) (USA) (TV) (pan and scan).
- Key Video (1984) (USA) (VHS).
- Warner Home Video (1985) (Germany) (VHS).
- Audio Visual Enterprises (1988) (Greece) (VHS).
- MGM/UA Home Video (1988) (USA) (VHS) (pan and scan).
- Chapel Distribution (1997) (Australia) (theatrical).
- MGM/UA Home Entertainment (1998) (USA) (VHS).
- MGM/UA Home Entertainment (1998) (USA) (video) (laserdisc).
- Image Entertainment (USA) (video) (laserdisc).
- MGM Home Entertainment (2001) (USA) (DVD).
- MGM Home Entertainment (2004) (UK) (DVD).
- MGM Home Entertainment (2005) (Germany) (DVD).
- Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (2005) (Netherlands) (DVD).
- Twilight Time (2017) (World-wide) (Blu-ray).
- Scorpion Releasing (2020) (USA) (Blu-ray).
- United Artists (A-Asia) (1978) (Australia) (theatrical).
- Explosive-Media (2021) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
- Explosive-Media (2021) (Germany) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (1984) (Australia) (video).
- Release Date: 21 May 1978 (Cannes Film Festival, France).
- Running time: 126 minutes.
- Rating: X.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.