Miracle in the Rain

Miracle in the Rain

Miracle in the Rain is a novella by American writer Ben Hecht, published in The Saturday Evening Post bimonthly magazine on April 3, 1943 and adapted by him into a feature film released on March 31, 1956.[1][2][3]

Contents

Film version

Hecht's 1956 film adaptation is directed by Rudolph Maté and stars Jane Wyman as a lonely office worker and Van Johnson as the happy-go-lucky soldier whom she meets during a downpour.[4][5] Playing Jane Wyman's friend is character actress Eileen Heckart, in her feature film debut. The music is by Franz Waxman and the black-and-white cinematography is by Russell Metty. A subplot about the heroine's father, which was not part of the original story, has been added to the screenplay. [6][7][8]

The film was produced on location in New York City[9], with several sequences filmed in Central Park and St. Patrick's Cathedral[10].

Plot

In New York City in 1942, secretary Ruth Wood lives quietly with her ailing mother Agnes. Ruth's co-workers at Excelsior Shoe Manufacturing Co. are Grace Ullman and Millie Kranz, a young blonde who is having an affair with her married boss, Stephen Jalonik. Also in the office is Monty, a young shipping clerk classified by the draft as 4-F, who monitors the war's campaigns on a world map pinned to the wall. One evening after work, when a cloudburst forces Ruth and other pedestrians to take shelter in the vestibule of an office building, Arthur Hugenon, a cheerful, talkative G.I. stationed in the area, surprises the shy Ruth by starting a conversation. When he invites her to dinner, she declines, saying that her housebound mother is expecting her. Undeterred, Art buys food for three at a delicatessen and accompanies Ruth home. Agnes, who has distrusted men since her husband Harry left her for another woman ten years earlier, receives Art with little enthusiasm. During the meal, Art, who grew up on a Tennessee farm, captivates Ruth with his stories and afterward entertains them by playing the piano. Upon finding the manuscript of an unfinished song Harry composed, Art asks permission to take it back to camp, where he and an Army buddy will write lyrics for it. On the weekend, Art takes Ruth and Grace to a matinee. On their way to a restaurant, they stop at an auction and Ruth impulsively bids on an antique Roman coin, which she gives to Art for good luck. At the Café Normandy, where they have dinner, Ruth is unaware that the piano player is her father, whom she has not seen since he left Agnes. However, Harry recognizes Ruth and confides to the bartender that he has been too ashamed to return to his family.

Later, Ruth tells Art that Agnes tried to kill herself after Harry left and still hopes for his return. On their next date, Art sings for Ruth "I'll Always Believe in You," the lyrics he and his friend have written for Harry's song. As Ruth and Art walk through Central Park, Ruth voices her fears about the war and Art tells her she must have faith. They then encounter Sgt. Gil Parker, while he takes snapshots of his new bride, Arleene Witchy, who works as a striptease dancer. Gil asks Art to take their picture and then offers to photograph Art and Ruth. In private, Gil warns Art that his division will soon be shipped overseas, but Art refuses to believe the rumor. At the lagoon, where children are sailing toy boats, Art recognizes the name of an elderly man, Commodore Eli B. Windgate. "Windy," as he is now called, is a former yacht owner who owned many of the surrounding buildings before losing his fortune. Art, who hopes to be a reporter after the war, senses a good feature story and interviews Windy on the spot. He then takes Ruth to the New York Times Building and convinces the city editor to let him write the story. Instead of taking payment, Art asks to be considered for a reporting job after the war. On their next date, Art arrives late riding on a truck filled with other soldiers. Having only a few minutes before he will be shipped out, he asks Ruth to marry him when he returns and, to allay her fears, says he still has the lucky Roman coin.

For three months, Ruth writes Art every day, but receives no letters in return. Finally, a specially delivered letter arrives, informing her that Art died on the battlefield and that his dying wish was that she be told he still loves her. Ruth despairs, although her friends and co-workers try to console her. Millie, moved by Ruth's misfortune, drops Jalonik as her lover and takes another job. Grace finds Ruth mourning in Central Park and takes her to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where Ruth lights candles under the statue of St. Andrew. Jalonik, hoping Ruth will fill the void left by Millie in his personal life, takes her to the Café Normandy to cheer her up, but Ruth is too grief-stricken to pay attention to him. Art's friend Dixie publishes Harry's song under his own name, and when Harry hears it on the radio, he calls Agnes to ask her what happened to his manuscript. When Agnes answers the phone, he loses his nerve and hangs up. Although he has written several letters to Agnes, Harry always loses courage and tears them up.

Ruth returns often to the statue of St. Andrew and talks to the young priest there. Losing interest in life, she ignores a cold, which turns into pneumonia. Mrs. Hammer, the upstairs neighbor who has often helped Ruth care for Agnes, now helps Agnes nurse Ruth. One rainy night, the feverish Ruth leaves the apartment while her mother dozes off, just before Harry, having mustered his courage, goes there to apologize to Agnes for leaving. Ruth's parents realize Ruth is missing just as Grace telephones. Hearing the Ruth has gone, Graces realizes that Ruth must have gone to the cathedral. Ruth is climbing the cathedral steps when she hears Art calling to her. In her delirium, she sees Art come to her and tell her that love never dies. Because he no longer needs the Roman coin, Art gives it to Ruth. Soon after, the priest finds Ruth passed out on the steps. Graces arrives a moment later. When the priest finds the coin clasped in Rth's hand, he shows it to Grace, who recognizes it and realizes that, for a brief time, Art returned to Ruth.

Cast

  • Marcel Dalio [Marcel, waiter at Café Normandy]
  • George Givot [Maitre d' at Café Normandy]
  • Barbara Nichols [Arlene Witchy, exotic dancer newly married to Sergeant Gilbert Parker][11][12]
  • Halliwell Hobbes [Ely B. "Windy" Windgate, former millionaire (surname given as "Wingate" in heading of Art's story in The New York Times, but as "Windgate" within the body of the article)]
  • Paul Picerni [Priest at St. Patrick's Cathedral]
  • Alan King [Sergeant Gilbert "Gil" Parker]
  • Irene Seidner [Mrs. Hamer, Ruth's neighbor]
  • Arte Johnson [Monty, office boy at Ruth's workplace]

Unbilled speaking roles (in order of appearance)

  • Walter Kingson [Unseen narrator: "Champion of all the cities of the Earth is the towering, golden city of New York."]
  • Marian Holmes [Mrs. Sara Rickles, receptionist at Ruth's workplace: "Your wife called two minutes ago."]
  • Ray Walker [Mr. McGuire, salesman at Ruth's workplace: "Hiya, slaves. I'm tackling Poughkeepsie today."]
  • Minerva Urecal [Delicatessen proprietress: "A corned beef, fresh. Eh, you like some baloney? It's a good."]
  • Frank J. Scannell [Auctioneer: "Seventy seven, the luckiest number in the world. Now we have something special — a genuine Roman coin."]
  • Peter Mamakos [Headwaiter at Café Normandy: "We don't take reservations on Saturday night. You know that."]
  • Jess Kirkpatrick [Andy, bartender at Café Normandy: "Whatsa matter, Harry? You got a little pale."]
  • Norbert Schiller [Doctor Zero, eccentric character seen pacing in outer office of The New York Times city editor: "Phfft, phfft."]
  • Charles Meredith [The New York Times representative: "Doctor Zero? Our city editor asked me to tell you that The New York Times has no interest in stories about the end of the world."]
  • Grandon Rhodes [Mr. Baldwin, The New York Times city editor: "I hear you ran into a story in the park. Rowboat turn over?"]
  • Harry Harvey, Jr. [The New York Times office boy: "It's right in the second drawer."]
  • Paul Smith [Dixie Dooley, Art's Army buddy: "We can't stay more than three minutes, Art."]
  • Michael Vallon [Flower vendor passing in a horse-drawn wagon: "Fresh flowers, nice fresh flowers."]
  • Glen Vernon [Emcee at The Garden of Bali, 52nd Street: "Come on, come on, let's bring the little lady back, no extra charge. Here she is, Arlene Witchy."]
  • Malcolm Atterbury [Special Delivery man with letter from the battlefield: "Miss Ruth Wood? Special Delivery for you."]
  • Roxanne Arlen [Attractive new secretary who has been hired to replace Millie Kranz: "Yes, Miss Ullman."]

Song

The melody by Ruth's father, to which Art added words and turned into a song, is "I'll Always Believe in You", music by Ray Heindorf and M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Ned Washington.

References

External links


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