I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Rider on the Rain

tn_riderontherainI wanted to watch a Charles Bronson movie, accidentally picked one where he doesn’t show up until 25 minutes in. He doesn’t ride in on the rain – the title refers to a different dude, a bald weirdo who a lady named Mellie (Marlene Jobert) sees getting off of a bus. Later he starts peeping on her and then actually attacks her.

Let’s not beat around the bush here, he is a maniac and he rapes her. And unfortunately when she calls the police she chickens out and hangs up. Then she discovers he’s in her house again but she has a shotgun so she does what Paul Kersey would’ve done about it.

We all know this is a legit self defense shooting, but the poor gal tries to cover it up. Maybe she doesn’t think people will understand, even worse maybe she thinks it’s shameful for people to know she was raped. She hides the body and doesn’t tell anybody what happened, including her husband Tony (Gabriele Tinti), an airline pilot who’s so out of touch with her that when he gets home he seems to think she’s cheating on him. She makes up a bunch of lies to cover up where she went when she ditched the body, why there’s a button missing on her dress, etc.

mp_riderontherainBronson shows up when she’s at a wedding. He gets the people in a crowd to pass a newspaper up to her, one folded over to an article about a dead body found on the beach. She turns and sees him across the crowd and he smiles at her.

His name is Dobbs. Who Dobbs is and what he’s up to is a mystery at first, but he says he’s not a cop, he seems to know what she did (if not why) and he’s trying to prove it. Also, he’s looking for a bag that the rapist had with him. Seems to think she has it or can figure out where it is.

One little quirk about Dobbs is that he loves doing this trick of throwing a walnut against a window so that the shell will break open. When other people (including Mellie) try it they just break the window. RIDER ON THE RAIN is a pretty cool title but in my opinion it should be called THE NUTCRACKERS, because he cracks nuts and she shoots rapists.

There are some odd things about Mellie too, which we find out over the course of the movie. She says the word “saxophone” instead of cursing. She’s sort of afraid of quarters. Her parents almost named her Melanie but changed it to Melancholy, somehow predicting that she was gonna be sad all the time. Also, the rapist’s parents apparently predicted his part in this story when they named him Mack Guffin.

What all this means is that it’s a hip French movie made in the late ’60s. It’s from the director Rene Clement, who also did PURPLE NOON. IMDb lists him as the director (uncredited) of Jean Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Not sure about that one, but he was around, anyway. He had some credibilitty.

Even though it’s not really a Bronson vehicle our guy is genuinely badass in it. Not in an enlightened way, though. If you would prefer to see Bronson play a character who does not threaten to literally put the heroine over his knee and spank her, this is not the movie for you. And while he doesn’t serious hurt her he doesn’t have a problem shoving her around to make her think he’s gonna. There is a short but excellent fight scene where he pushes a brothel madame by the face then tackles and punches out a bunch of thugs, knocking over some stools and everything. I mean, I’m sure it was pretty easy to get the stools back in order, but it still emphasizes the point. It’s punctuation.

I actually had meant to watch FAREWELL FRIEND, which is on the same DVD, but this copy froze up a few minutes in. Fortunately since I was able to get RIDER ON THE RAIN to play without incident it wasn’t a total wash. If you want to see pretty French girls with short hair and fashionable clothes accompanied by dreamy organ and electric piano and then Charles Bronson runs in, force-feeds her liquor, flips a guy over and punches a guy, this is the movie for you.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012 at 2:27 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “Rider on the Rain”

  1. This is a good Bronson movie to see if you’ve seen a lot of his later work, because it shows more of his acting skills. I would recommend this, Farewell, Friend and Someone Behind the Door to everyone who thinks Charlie’s just about guns and fist fights.

  2. Fun fact; Bronson tried to get this movie remade in the early 80’s. After Death Wish 2 I guess he saw the writing on the wall wanted to go in another direction than the one Winner was taking him.

  3. More facts; Rider on the Rain is the 6th of Bronson’s 12 European set movies, and his 3rd with a moustache.

  4. Knox Harrington

    March 23rd, 2012 at 6:14 am

    I really wish that modern cinema would have a French New Wave revival in the same way we had the recent exploitation/grindhouse trend. All we need is one good Mellville or Godard homage and that’ll start the ball rolling.

    Sure, it will probably eventually lead to all kinds of shitty wannabe disasters, but I reckon we’ll get at least one or two good ones put of it, much like we’ll always have Death Proof to enjoy.

  5. Knox Harrington

    March 23rd, 2012 at 6:15 am

    “put of it” meaning “out of it”.

  6. I’m not reading this because I just got it on DVD and I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. I’ve wanted it for years and then I finally find it and Vern beats me to the punch.

    Get out of my head, Vern! There’s shit in there man wasn’t meant to know!

  7. Jareth Cutestory

    March 23rd, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Knox: Wong Kar Wai films sit nicely alongside some of the French New Wave. They’re not transparent homages like Tarantino’s stuff, but are deeply engaged with the ideas and techniques of the time, particularly with Godard’s stuff. But you knew that.

    Also, in an alternate timeline, Bronson’s Detective John Nutcracker series of movies was more popular and influential than Dirty Harry.

  8. When Vern finally reviews another Bronson, it´s one of those I never saw. Fuckin typical. But I WILL see this shit in a non-distant or distant-future. Anything Bronsonesque is well worth my time.
    I don´t have a helluva lot of money to spend at he moment since I´m studying at a university (at 33, is that unusual in other countries?) and is forced to get by through loans and shit.

  9. It would be cool if Vern went through the Wong Kar Wai movies as a project. Don’t think any of them feature Bronson though.

  10. Jareth Cutestory

    March 23rd, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The first few Wong Kar Wai movies are like melancholy commentaries on the classic John Woo films that we all like so much. Most fans of Hong Kong action that I’ve spoken to have a limited tolerance for that kind of stuff.

    I bet Wong would have loved to work with Bronson for his magnificent face alone. Wong favorite Tony Leung has a dash of Bronson in him

  11. One of Bronsons all around better movies. Lionsgate put out Farewell under one of it’s other names Honor Among Thieves Try that version if you can Vern. A shame the new one froze up on you. That dvd was a godsend though. Old transfers of Rider On The Rain were almost unwatchable.

  12. I got hold of a decent copy of Rider from play.com last year. For some reason it’s easier to find Bronson dvds in Europe. Not unlike Jerry Lewis dvds.

  13. Okay, I’m all caught up now. I’m not sure I fully understand this movie.

    NOW ENTERING SPOILERTOWN

    Where’d the money come from? How was the brothel involved? Was it just a coincidence that the madam’s sister had killed her lover a year before in the same town where Mellie lived? Why was the U.S. army trying to track down a French rapist? Why are we supposed to be happy that Mellie is reunited with her asshole husband who cheats on her and threatens to kill her if another man touches her? Are these questions beside the point?

    In any case, I liked it a lot. It’s great to see Bronson getting the chance to indulge his suave side. Even with his voice dubbed into French (and even in the two scenes in English, he was still dubbed) his physical presence is what defines the character.

    Also, you get to see him bowl. I never thought I would witness such a beautiful thing.

  14. Okay, I figured out the whole brothel thing. I was confused because I was still laboring under the assumption that the rapist’s name really was Sacchi, as Bronson had said, so it threw me for a loop when the pimp said he knew him. Now I see that Sacchi was just the madam’s sister’s lover and was never the name of the rapist. That was just a lie Bronson told to make Mellie think the cops had found the rapist’s b

  15. Mr Majestyk, I have to ask; is Mr Majestyk your favorite Bronson movie?

  16. And, there is an English dub out there of Rider, with Bronson’s own voice.

    Though in the director’s cut version of Violent City there are parts that didn’t get dubbed into English, so in the middle of the movie Bronson suddenly speaks Italian.

  17. I don’t really know how to answer that question. I like so many Bronson movies for so many different reasons that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. Sometimes I prefer the unrepentant sleaze of DEATH WISH 2, sometimes I prefer something with a little more class, like THE MECHANIC. My namesake is definitely up there in the top three, though.

  18. Personally, I feel that Bronson never been as badass as he was in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST where he played this very mythical ghostlike figure. That would probably be my pick of the bunch. Followed by THE MECHANIC and MR MAJESTYK.

  19. Saw Crimewave a few days back, the André De Toth “True Crime” Classic from 1954.
    Bronson plays a nasty, but somehow likeable jailbird on the run, and it’s startling how much more animated and charismatic the young Bronson was, to the guarded almost depressed guy that worked his way through countless mediocre 70’ties flicks. What went wrong?

  20. Nothing went wrong. In an interview a while back he said that he made a decision in the late 60’s that he didn’t want to talk just for the sake of talking. A picture tells more than a thousand words etc. And if you look at some of his lighter stuff, like From Noon ‘Till Three and Breakout, you see that he was more than capable of doing humor and dialog.

  21. This looks pretty good, actually.

  22. The last few days I’ve been toying with the idea of rewatching all my Bronson movies. Starting with House of Wax and ending with Family of Cops III. It’s a huge task, but what the hell…

  23. Wow a resume like that and nothing was ever promoted as being by “the director of Purple… Rain”? What a missed opportunity.

  24. What are you on about, Belgand?

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