There’s just something special about watching Gene Kelly gleefully dance and sing his way through what is, arguably, the most iconic rain scene ever laid to celluloid in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” It’s an instant feel-good moment in an endlessly fun movie that made its Blu-ray debut on July 17 (the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” even comes with a real umbrella). Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, the film has never looked better and its release gave us a great excuse to run down some of the most awesomely rain-soaked scenes in cinematic history. Grab your raincoat and galoshes. It’s about to get very slippery in here.
“Jurassic Park” (1993)
Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park” might not have been the first time the legendary director changed the face of modern cinema (and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time), but the film’s stunning use of computer-generated imagery set the bar for visual effects higher than anyone imagined it could go. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, and starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough, “Jurassic Park” went on to make an obscene amount of money at the box office while also thrilling audiences young and old alike.
And there may be no more thrilling scene than the memorable one that takes place in the pouring rain. With power to the electric fences out and their park-guided touring SUVs stalled outside the dinosaur enclosure. The scene is punctuated by the iconic shot of a glass of water vibrating from the thundering boom of a T. rex’s footsteps. From there on, we’re treated to one of the most suspenseful and breathtaking animal attack scenes ever created. I don’t need to tell you what happens. You’ve probably seen it numerous times. It’s a nearly perfect scene that’s only made more frightening and claustrophobic by the seemingly endless rain pouring down. It’s enough to give you chills.
“The Matrix Revolutions” (2003)
It’s a shame “The Matrix Revolutions” is mostly a terrible movie because its rain scene is an absolute classic. Neo and Smith finally go hand-to-hand in a completely drenched street, clomping through at least an inch of the wet stuff en route to punching each other in the face. What makes the scene so great, however, isn’t just the fact that it’s a well-orchestrated, exciting fight scene (it is, in fact, all those things), but it’s also the way the Wachowski’s employ their patented brand of “bullet time” slow-motion and signature color palette. The visuals liven up any semblance of frustration viewers may have had throughout most of the film (at least for this very brief respite) and gives “Matrix” fans something to cheer about for the first time since… well… really the end of the first film. It’s a great rain scene that deserves a better movie around it.
So Carol Anne’s been dragged into that damned TV several times already by the end of the film and, when the rain starts pouring, things are really about to go berserk. The Freelings have been through hell, learned how to throw a tennis ball through an alternate plane of existence (where everything seems to come out covered in a red, goopy mess), and watched tiny Tangina Barrons tell them that their house is “clean.” Little did they know that, before long, JoBeth Williams would be slipping into a muddy mess of a pool hole and screaming for her life as skeletons began to rise up around her.
The rain scene in Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” is not only absolutely terrifying, but it’s also a major plot point, in that it reveals one of the major things that’s been causing all the paranormal activity in the Freeling’s house. You see, those skeletons that Diane Freeling ends up swimming with near the end of the film are from the Indian burial ground that lies underneath their home in Cuesta Verde. And those spirits, my friend, are mighty pissed off. All of which eventually prompts Craig T. Nelson to utter one of cinema’s all-time finest lines: “You moved the headstones, but you forgot to move the bodies!” Talk about a serious oversight.
It’s hard to believe that Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” is now ten years old. The film that helped launch the latest superhero film craze still stands as one of the genre’s best efforts (even if Raimi slightly outdid himself with his “Spider-Man 2” follow-up). It’s nearly as rousing and fun today as it was ten years ago and, despite what the naysayers will tell you (especially after the “Spider-Man 3” debacle), Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have some serious chemistry.
Take, for instance, the very rain scene that’s become a pop culture staple over the past decade. After Spider-Man helps vanquish a few thugs that have been bothering Mary-Jane, all in the midst of a steady pouring rain, the webslinger hangs upside down and waits as Mary-Jane moves in to… how shall we put this… say thanks. Dripping wet from head to toe, Mary-Jane moves in, pulls down Spider-Man’s mask just enough to plant a big sloppy kiss on our hero. It’s a passionate, heartfelt, and downright sexy kiss that’s a true payoff. It’s also one that movie fans have seen endless times in the past ten years, and will probably continue to see for a very long time.
“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
Is there a more uplifting movie on the planet than “The Shawshank Redemption?” If so, I dare you to find it. Sure, there are plenty of feel-good movies out there, but there’s just something about Frank Darabont’s masterpiece that could take someone on the bring of a depressive breakdown and turn them into a shining beacon of hope. It might not appear that way throughout its two hour twenty minute runtime but, by the end of the film, if you’re not getting “busy living,” then there’s something wrong with you.
And there’s maybe no other rain scene in the history of movies that so embodies everything about the character caught in the middle of it. When Andy Dufresne finally found his way to freedom (“through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine,” in the words of Morgan Freeman’s “Red”), he’s greeted by a rain so hard and strong, you’d think it was delivered God himself directly to Dufresne to cleanse himself of not only the physical grossness he just experienced, but also the emotional filth he’d been wallowing in for years behind the walls of Shawshank Prison. Dufresne rips off his shirt, closes his eyes, and raises his hands to the sky as if to say “thank you” for the most beautiful, refreshing, and powerful rain he’d ever felt. It’s an absolutely glorious moment for one of cinema’s greatest characters, and easily one of the best rain scenes of all time.