The Rains Came Clarence Brown

This disaster melodrama box-office hit might have seemed like the real deal in 1939, but it's hopelessly cornball by today's standards, with little in the way of residual credibility. George Brent stars as a dissipated nobleman living in "the new India"; he's the kind of guy who takes pride in a statue of Queen Victoria and has to fend off interest from a teenage girl (Brenda Joyce) looking to lose her snobbish parents. But that's the least of his troubles when a monsoon and an earthquake all but wipe out his neck of the woods, prompting much hand-wringing on the part of him, Indian doctor Tyrone Power (!) and old flame Myrna Loy. The film won an Oscar for its special effects, and when you see the surprisingly convincing dam-busting scene you'll instantly know why. But even adjusting for the time's colonial values, there's no way anyone from these temporal coordinates can help but cringe at its non-Indian Indians and barely-British Englishmen. Words fail to describe the ludicrousness of casting Maria Ouspenskaya as the local Maharani or the goofy incredulity in Brent's stunned expressions. Loy and Power somehow get away with their dignity — even if the latter's Indian-ness extends to a moustache and a turban — but there's no denying that the time of the film's believability and relevance has long since passed. There's pleasure to be had from this kind of fermented cheese, but just be warned that anyone looking for a straight movie will be negatively impressed. Extras include a commentary by scholars Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard that's mostly a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a photo gallery and the trailer. (Fox)