The N. Richard Nash play has been fashioned into a solid screen entertainment. With Burt Lancaster turning in perhaps his most colorful performance and Katharine Hepburn offering a free-wheeling interpretation of a spinster in search of romance, the adaptation is a click show all around.
Nash’s own screenplay stays close to the original, establishing the title character right at the start and then moving into the story of how the smooth-talking fraud pretends to bring rain to a drought-stricken ranch area. It’s humorously and imaginatively done against unusually effective sets.
Locale is the southwestern town of Three Point where Lancaster sets out to pick up $100 on his promise of bringing a vitally-needed downpour. He comes into contact with rancher Cameron Prud’homme and his family, comprising Hepburn as the daughter, two sons, Lloyd Bridges, who’s stern and practical, and Earl Holliman, a clumsy, likeable youngster.
That’s the setup. Lancaster, although he’s obviously a con artist, is permitted to live in Prud’homme’s tack house and work his rain magic. He convinces Hepburn that she’s pretty, and not plain as Bridges insists.
1956: Nominations: Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Scoring of a Dramatic Picture