A Hatful of Rain


1h 49m 1957
A Hatful of Rain

Brief Synopsis

A man tries to deal with his brother's drug addiction and his growing attraction to the man's wife.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Jul 1957
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City--Alfred E. Smith Memorial Housing Project, New York, United States; New York City--Brooklyn Bridge, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play A Hatful of Rain by Michael Vincente Gazzo, as produced on the stage by Jay Julien (New York, 9 Nov 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,750ft

Synopsis

When John Pope, Sr., the opinionated, bellicose patriarch of the Pope family, comes to New York to visit his sons Polo and Johnny in their Lower East Side housing project, he finds Johnny, his favorite, jumpy and overwrought, and bitterly voices his disappointment that Polo, his younger son, is working as a bouncer in a cocktail lounge. When Pop asks Polo to lend him $2,500 to renovate the bar that he has just bought in Florida, Polo informs him that the money has already been spent, prompting Pop to lash out and call Polo a bum. That night at the apartment the brothers share with Johnny's pregnant young wife Celia, Celia serves dinner to Johnny and Pop while Johnny anxiously glances out the window. As Johnny watches, three men meet at the street corner and then proceed to his apartment. The three, Mother, Chuch and Apples, are Johnny's drug connections, and when they ring the doorbell, Johnny lies that they are his poker buddies and steps out in the hallway to beg Mother to advance him some heroin. Johnny, who became addicted while recovering from wounds he suffered during the Korean War, now needs a fix three times daily. Refusing to supply Johnny with any more drugs until he pays for those he had previously bought on credit, Mother hands him a gun and suggests that he steal the money. Once Pop leaves, Johnny and Celia drop their fa├žade of the happy family and Celia reproaches Johnny for his inability to communicate with her. Unaware of her husband's addiction, Celia believes that he is seeing another woman although he denies it. Soon after, Polo comes home, roaring drunk while Johnny, tormented by withdrawal symptoms, stumbles out to the street in search of drugs. Alone with Polo, Celia chastises him for fighting with his father, and Polo bitterly replies that Pop was never a father to them, having placed them in an orphanage when they were young boys. After Polo calls Johnny a loser, Celia tells Polo that she knows he is in love with her and asks him to move out. When Johnny, prowling the streets for victims to rob, fails to return home that night, Polo admits his love for Celia and wonders how she can live with his brother. Celia, neglected and confused, confesses that she no longer loves her husband and in desperation, came to Polo's bedroom door earlier that night but found herself unable to go in. After Celia leaves for work, Johnny returns home, shaking, and begs Polo for twenty dollars to buy some drugs. When Polo protests that has already given Johnny his life savings of $2,500, Johnny promises to quit once again. Johnny then invites Polo to join him for breakfast with their father, but Pop, holding a grudge, refuses to shake Polo's hand. Polo departs, and Johnny, in the throes of withdrawal, asks Pop to reconcile with him. After accusing Pop of never being a father to him, Johnny breaks down and Polo returns and hustles him into his car. When Polo tells Johnny that he plans to turn him in to the police, Johnny threatens to jump out of the moving vehicle. Polo relents and agrees to drive him to meet his drug dealer at a playground. The police have arrested the dealer, however, so Polo drives Johnny home, where Johnny, now delirious, hallucinates that he is in battle. Agonizing over his brother's condition, Polo begs Mother for a fix, and Mother tosses him a packet and then instructs him to sell his car to pay his brother's debt. After selling his beloved car, Polo takes Pop to a football game. When Celia comes home from work that night, she tells Johnny their marriage is over. Johnny, restored to his former self by the power of narcotics, shows Celia a dress he has bought for their unborn baby and begs her forgiveness. Celia embraces Johnny in relief, but when Polo returns, he insists that Johnny tell his wife he is an addict. Johnny is on the verge of confessing his secret when Pop buzzes the doorbell from downstairs. After Johnny finally admits that he is a junkie, Celia, in disbelief, reassures her husband of her love and support. Just then, Pop pounds at the door and the four sit down to a tension-filled dinner. As Pop chatters on, Johnny unemotionally states that he is a junkie. Wanting to blame someone, Pop explodes. After Johnny runs out of the apartment, Celia begins to experience spasms and Pop and Polo rush her to the doctor. Once the doctor assures them that Celia and the baby are well, Polo goes to look for Johnny. Johnny, meanwhile, returns to the apartment and finds Mother waiting there for his money. As Mother taunts Johnny about his addiction, Polo enters and repays him. Mother then tosses a packet of dope to Johnny, but Johnny throws it back and declares he is through, then begins to suffer withdrawal convulsions. After Mother leaves, Celia and Pop return and Celia insists that Johnny be hospitalized, over the objections of Pop and Polo. When Pop offers to stay in New York and take care of his son, Celia asserts that she will take care of Johnny by herself and contends that his only chance of survival is to notify the police. When Johnny consents, Celia phones the police department to report an addict and then bravely embraces her husband.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Jul 1957
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City--Alfred E. Smith Memorial Housing Project, New York, United States; New York City--Brooklyn Bridge, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play A Hatful of Rain by Michael Vincente Gazzo, as produced on the stage by Jay Julien (New York, 9 Nov 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,750ft

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1957
Anthony Franciosa

Articles

A Hatful of Rain


After Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) toppled Hollywood's generation-long taboo against depicting narcotics addiction on the big screen, the studios seemingly couldn't wait to mine the dramatic potential of such controversial subject matter. Fox, for its part, turned to a recently-staged Broadway drama that had been lauded as one of the finest plays ever crafted on the subject of drug abuse, and tapped director Fred Zinnemann to bring playwright/actor Michael V. Gazzo's powerful A Hatful of Rain to film. The finished 1957 movie version, asserted to be the first such approved under the revised Production Code, unfortunately didn't cause much of a ripple at the box office in its day, but it does boast a collection of remarkable central performances and effectively captured Gazzo's gritty narrative for posterity.

A Hatful of Rain takes place in the NYC project apartment shared by Korean War vet Johnny Pope (Don Murray), his pregnant wife Celia (Eva Marie Saint) and his younger brother Polo (Anthony Franciosa). The household has braced for a visit from overbearing patriarch John Sr. (Lloyd Nolan), and it turns out to be as stressful as anticipated. The elder Pope doesn't understand the reason for Johnny's marked displays of anxiousness, and saves his vitriol, as he always seems to, for Polo. The father voices his contempt for Polo's dead-end career as a bouncer, and lashes out at the younger son over his inability to offer him a $2500 loan.

Johnny excuses himself for a hallway rendezvous with some "poker buddies" who have dropped by unannounced. These asserted cronies--Mother (Henry Silva), Church (Gerald O'Loughlin) and Apples (William Hickey)--are in fact the pushers that Johnny has frequented since he came back from combat with a habit, and they've shown up to let him know that his credit is no longer good. Mother leaves Johnny with a handgun, suggesting that he turn to theft if he wants to clear up his debt.

Polo's the only family member who knows the nature of the lie that Johnny's been living; the life savings that he had refused to lend their father had long since made their way into his big brother's veins. Celia's aware that something's wrong, but the extent of her suspicions point toward another woman. As a withdrawal-wracked Johnny makes his way through the streets in search of ill-gotten cash, Celia has it out with Polo over the resentment he harbors toward his brother, and the unspoken feelings she knows Polo holds for her. The balance of the narrative follows Johnny as he struggles to come to terms with his addiction, as well as his family members' search for mutual reconciliation.

With the blacklist still very much in force, Zinnemann clandestinely assigned an uncredited Carl Foreman to reshape Gazzo's dramaturgy for the camera. In his autobiography, the director reminisced about how he and Murray researched the nature of an addict's existence in New York City. "We had cooperation from the Narcotics Squad and were taken into 'hot' areas in daytime and in the dead of night, able to observe many things and make mental notes which would be of enormous value to us later on," Zinnemann wrote. "A most harrowing experience was seeing patients at the corrective hospital at Ryker's Island [where] the hard cases were treated."

Zinnemann was less than thrilled with the studio's mandate that A Hatful of Rain be shot, like all Fox releases of the day, in Cinemascope. Beyond its questionable appropriateness for such intimate subject matter, the director was flatly no fan of "this ridiculous format, shaped like an elongated band-aid. It tended to defeat the director in his choice of the precise point he wanted the audience to look at; instead, the viewers' eyes went roaming over those acres of screen...I remember spending much time inventing large foreground pieces to hide at least one-third of the screen."

A Hatful of Rain's only Academy Award® nomination that year came in the form of a deserved Best Actor nomination for Franciosa, who had similarly been Tony-nominated for his efforts in creating the role of Polo onstage. The original Broadway cast also included Ben Gazarra as Johnny, Franciosa's future spouse Shelley Winters as Celia, and Silva, the sole other carryover to the screen production, as Mother.

Producer: Buddy Adler
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Screenplay: Alfred Hayes; Michael Vincente Gazzo (screenplay and play); Carl Foreman (originally uncredited)
Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald
Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer
Cast: Don Murray (Johnny Pope), Eva Marie Saint (Celia Pope), Anthony Franciosa (Polo Pope), Lloyd Nolan (John Pope, Sr.), Henry Silva (Mother), Gerald S. O'Loughlin (Chuch), William Hickey (Apples), Paul Kruger (Bartender), Ralph Montgomery (Spectator).
BW-109m.

by Jay S. Steinberg
A Hatful Of Rain

A Hatful of Rain

After Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) toppled Hollywood's generation-long taboo against depicting narcotics addiction on the big screen, the studios seemingly couldn't wait to mine the dramatic potential of such controversial subject matter. Fox, for its part, turned to a recently-staged Broadway drama that had been lauded as one of the finest plays ever crafted on the subject of drug abuse, and tapped director Fred Zinnemann to bring playwright/actor Michael V. Gazzo's powerful A Hatful of Rain to film. The finished 1957 movie version, asserted to be the first such approved under the revised Production Code, unfortunately didn't cause much of a ripple at the box office in its day, but it does boast a collection of remarkable central performances and effectively captured Gazzo's gritty narrative for posterity. A Hatful of Rain takes place in the NYC project apartment shared by Korean War vet Johnny Pope (Don Murray), his pregnant wife Celia (Eva Marie Saint) and his younger brother Polo (Anthony Franciosa). The household has braced for a visit from overbearing patriarch John Sr. (Lloyd Nolan), and it turns out to be as stressful as anticipated. The elder Pope doesn't understand the reason for Johnny's marked displays of anxiousness, and saves his vitriol, as he always seems to, for Polo. The father voices his contempt for Polo's dead-end career as a bouncer, and lashes out at the younger son over his inability to offer him a $2500 loan. Johnny excuses himself for a hallway rendezvous with some "poker buddies" who have dropped by unannounced. These asserted cronies--Mother (Henry Silva), Church (Gerald O'Loughlin) and Apples (William Hickey)--are in fact the pushers that Johnny has frequented since he came back from combat with a habit, and they've shown up to let him know that his credit is no longer good. Mother leaves Johnny with a handgun, suggesting that he turn to theft if he wants to clear up his debt. Polo's the only family member who knows the nature of the lie that Johnny's been living; the life savings that he had refused to lend their father had long since made their way into his big brother's veins. Celia's aware that something's wrong, but the extent of her suspicions point toward another woman. As a withdrawal-wracked Johnny makes his way through the streets in search of ill-gotten cash, Celia has it out with Polo over the resentment he harbors toward his brother, and the unspoken feelings she knows Polo holds for her. The balance of the narrative follows Johnny as he struggles to come to terms with his addiction, as well as his family members' search for mutual reconciliation. With the blacklist still very much in force, Zinnemann clandestinely assigned an uncredited Carl Foreman to reshape Gazzo's dramaturgy for the camera. In his autobiography, the director reminisced about how he and Murray researched the nature of an addict's existence in New York City. "We had cooperation from the Narcotics Squad and were taken into 'hot' areas in daytime and in the dead of night, able to observe many things and make mental notes which would be of enormous value to us later on," Zinnemann wrote. "A most harrowing experience was seeing patients at the corrective hospital at Ryker's Island [where] the hard cases were treated." Zinnemann was less than thrilled with the studio's mandate that A Hatful of Rain be shot, like all Fox releases of the day, in Cinemascope. Beyond its questionable appropriateness for such intimate subject matter, the director was flatly no fan of "this ridiculous format, shaped like an elongated band-aid. It tended to defeat the director in his choice of the precise point he wanted the audience to look at; instead, the viewers' eyes went roaming over those acres of screen...I remember spending much time inventing large foreground pieces to hide at least one-third of the screen." A Hatful of Rain's only Academy Award® nomination that year came in the form of a deserved Best Actor nomination for Franciosa, who had similarly been Tony-nominated for his efforts in creating the role of Polo onstage. The original Broadway cast also included Ben Gazarra as Johnny, Franciosa's future spouse Shelley Winters as Celia, and Silva, the sole other carryover to the screen production, as Mother. Producer: Buddy Adler Director: Fred Zinnemann Screenplay: Alfred Hayes; Michael Vincente Gazzo (screenplay and play); Carl Foreman (originally uncredited) Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler Music: Bernard Herrmann Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer Cast: Don Murray (Johnny Pope), Eva Marie Saint (Celia Pope), Anthony Franciosa (Polo Pope), Lloyd Nolan (John Pope, Sr.), Henry Silva (Mother), Gerald S. O'Loughlin (Chuch), William Hickey (Apples), Paul Kruger (Bartender), Ralph Montgomery (Spectator). BW-109m. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the film's title card, the initial article is presented in lower case. The film closes with the following written acknowledgment: "Twentieth Century-Fox acknowledges and thanks the generous cooperation of Mr. John Graham and the Department of Commerce and Public Events of the city of New York in the production of a Hatful of Rain." Although blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman was not listed in the onscreen credits, his credit for the film was reinstated by the Writers Guild in 1998 to add him to the list of credited writers. According to materials contained in the film's film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Twentieth Century-Fox bought the rights to Michael Vincente Gazzo's play shortly after it opened on Broadway. At that time, the PCA forbade the production of any film dealing with narcotics. In December 1956, in partial response to the controversy surrounding Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (see below), the Production Code was revised to allow narcotics as an acceptable subject for film.
       According to Fox publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, a Hatful of Rain was the first of three films produced under the revised Code. Publicity materials note that in hopes of attracting a wider audience, the studio changed the location of the play from the slums to a housing project. The family in the play was depicted as lower-class Italian-American, whereas in the film, the family is working class, devoid of ethnicity. Locations were shot in New York City at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Housing Project on the East Side, and at the Brooklyn Bridge, according to studio publicity materials and a February 1957 New York Times news item. Henry Silva and Anthony Franciosa played "Mother" and "Polo," respectively, in the Broadway production of Gazzo's play. Franciosa was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance in the film. Actor William Hickey (1928-1997) made his motion picture debut in the film. On March 6, 1968, the ABC network broadcast a televised version of Gazzo's play, starring Sandy Dennis and Michael Parks and directed by John Moxey.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1957 National Board of Review.

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1957 New York Times Film Critics.

Winner of the Best Actor Award (Franciosa), the International Film Critics Prize, and the Catholic Film Office Award at the 1957 Venice Film Festival.

Released in United States 1957

Released in United States Summer August 1957

Shown at the 1957 Venice Film Festival.

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1957 (Shown at the 1957 Venice Film Festival.)

Released in United States Summer August 1957