Baby, the Rain Must Fall (1965): Melodrama Starring Steve McQueeen and Lee Remick

The best thing about this low-key, modest, uneventful, black-and-white rural melodrama is its talented thespians, who form a romantic triangle: Steve McQueen, in an uncharacteristically serious dramatic part, Lee Remick as his wife, and Don Murray as the local sheriff.

The lovely Remick plays Georgette Thomas, a young woman who travels with her six-year-old daughter Margaret Rose to a small southern Texas town to meet her irresponsible singer-guitarist husband, Henry Thomas (played by McQueen.

Henry is released from prison after serving time for stabbing a man during a drunken brawl. He tries to make a home for his family, but Kate Dawson, the aging spinster who raised him after his parents died, remains a formidable presence in his life and tries to sabotage his efforts. She even threatens to have him returned to prison if he listens to her demands.

Melodrama kicks in, when the woman dies and Henry, all drunk, destroys her possessions and desecrates her gravesite. Sure enough, he’s sent back to prison, and Georgette and Margaret Rose leave town with the sensitive deputy sheriff, Slim (Don Murray at his most appealing), who had befriended her and was sensitive to her daughter.

The title song, with music composed by Elmer Bernstein and lyrics written by Ernie Sheldon, is performe Glenn Yarbrough.

The critics at the time complained about the lack of real subtsance and strong motivations for the lead characters. Though the film doesn’t feel like an “opned-up” play, it does suffers from lack of narrative drive and interesting secondary figures.

Indeed, the movie was a commercial failure, despite the presence of Steve McQueen, who was a major star at the time and accepted this assigment to prove that he had a wider range as an actor. But the public liked to see McQueen as a cool hero in action-adventures, such as “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt,” not as a nuerotic, insecure, unstable man, prone to erratic mood changes.