Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) Blu-ray Review: Drugs, Not Hugs

In case you’ve ever found yourself quoting the fairly famous words of The Dude whenever a song by The Eagles comes on, you’ll be happy to know you can get your Creedence Clearwater Revival fill ‒ and then some ‒ in Karel Reisz’ gloomy 1978 adult drama, Who’ll Stop the Rain. In fact, I think it’s safe to say someone overseeing the post-production of this gritty adaptation of Robert Stone’s novel Dog Soldiers (not to be confused with the 2002 British werewolf horror film of the same name) was quite the fan of CCR since one-third of the soundtrack is provided by them, to say nothing of the fact they renamed the whole damn picture after one of ’em once they acquired the rights. But at least it wasn’t The Eagles, right?

Casting a tale centering around drugs, desperation, and despair isn’t always easy. Fortunately for us, however, Who’ll Stop the Rain stars Nick Nolte. Set in the waning days of the Vietnam War and the long-lasting impact said confrontation had on American culture, Who’ll Stop the Rain opens with a despondent war correspondent Michael Moriarty deciding to smuggle a stash of heroin into the U.S.. And thanks to sleazy merchant marine sailor Nolte, he does just that. Alas, the many shadows in Uncle Sam’s beard are already hip to the situation, which sends Nolte and Moriatry’s opioid-addicted wife Tuesday Weld on the run from corrupt DEA guy Anthony Zerbe.

Now, in case you weren’t paying close enough attention, permit me to repeat the cast: Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty, and Anthony Zerbe. Even with the heavy-handed subject matter, that’s still a darn fine ensemble of performers more than capable of playing rough. Throw in the pairing of Richard Masur and Ray Sharkey as a pair of sadistic whacked-out thugs (who feel like extreme versions of a couple goons from The Rockford Files), a supporting role from supporting villainess extraordinaire Gail Strickland, and a climax set in a hippie commune inspired by the Merry Pranksters’ hangout, and you’ve got some seriously good stuff to put in your peace pipe and smoke right there, kids.

While the elements used by MGM to create this HD presentation may show a little wear, the resulting 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode is nevertheless extremely satisfying. Presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, Who’ll Stop the Rain doesn’t look like its been rained on at all, and is a huge upgrade over the old discontinued MGM DVD. The 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA soundtrack is crisp and clear, accompanied by English (SDH) subtitles in the event just hearing the dialogue isn’t depressing enough for you. Also included is an isolated 2.0 DTS-HD MA score, newly-produced featurette with editor John Bloom (Spoiler Alert: He still hasn’t forgiven them for changing the title), a theatrical trailer, and liner notes on the film by Julie Kirgo.

Recommended. Even if you’re really a diehard Eagles fan.

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Luigi Bastardo

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