Monday, 5 March 2012

Rider On The Rain

Who will he terrorise... Who will he attack... Who will be his next victim ?

Bronson asked for the artist of this poster to
make his arms look more muscular.

Le passager de la pluie (known as Rider On The Rain in America) was a French Psychological Thriller by legendary French director René Clément which was released in the early part of 1970.

In Rider On The rain a young women called Mélancolie (Marlène Jobert) is stalked & raped by a mysterious masked man. Afterwards she shoots him dead with a shotgun & dumps his body in the sea. She thinks she has got away with the murder until an American investigator by the name of Harry Dobbs (Bronson) turns up & appears to know an awful lot about the murder.

Following Bronson's success in France with Adieu l'ami the director was convinced by his co-star in that movie (Alain Delon) that Bronson would be perfect for the part of Harry Dobbs. This was a great part for Bronson playing an ambiguous character for the majority of the picture. With Harry Dobbs you are never completely sure what he's intentions are. Do you route for this guy? Is he what he says he is? Should we & Mélancolie trust this man? Bronson keeps his cards close to his chest in a performance which in some respects is not a million miles away from 'Harmonica' in Once Upon A Time In The West.

The film was shot in two versions (English & French) with Bronson's voice being dubbed in the French version. The DVD I watched was from Optimum releasing & has a clear print and both versions of the movie. The version I watched & am reviewing is the English language version, though I'm told the only difference is a slight difference in some of the dialogue. Plot-wise both versions are exactly the same.

I chose the English version as I couldn't bare to hear Bronson dubbed in French. I felt whilst Marlène Jobert's English was perfect she kind of delivered her dialogue very slowly which kind of damaged the pacing in a few scenes.The plot also is a little bit clunky in times though you are taken along for the ride with Mélancolie so often your confusion or lack of knowing is mirrored by her performance. Despite my gripes with her delivery I thought she was excellent as the fragile victim who is forced to kill in self defense.

Bronson proves he is the world's greatest Tenpin bowler.

Jill Ireland has a short appearance as Nicole, the owner of a clothes store, though her part is completely forgettable & you get the feeling that her character was just written in last minute so that Bronson would accept the part. Another downside for me was the ending which, whilst it tied up all loose ends, felt a little anti-climatic.

Some plus points were Marc Mazza who plays the part of the rapist is great in a small yet important role. He looks intimidating, vicious & quite frankly, evil, so you can't help feel for Mélancolie as she is inevitably overpowered by him.

Rider On The Rain sports some impressive cinematography against some great locations. Theres a great shot of  Mélancolie where the camera looks straight down the barrel of her shotgun then the shots of the constant rain early on help add to the atmosphere of the picture. The score is an interesting one, it boasts an almost typical French Thriller score for it's time yet at times has a harsh & almost industrial sound that overpowers it for added tension.

'Love Love' aprons coming to a store near you.

Bronson's performance was so impressive that the film's credit cards were changed to give him higher billing than that of Marlene Joubert's. Rider On The Rain was a big success in France & Bronson is quoted as saying that the film was a real beginning for him as it was the first huge success that he hadn't had to share with other male stars. Bronson was now arguably the biggest star in the whole of Europe & later in his career in '83 Bronson put forward the idea of an English remake to Cannon pictures but nothing ever materialised.
Another interesting fact is that Jim Morrison of the Doors wrote one of his most famous songs 'Riders On The Storm' after seeing this picture.

Overall Rider On The Rain is a slow paced thriller & though not perfect is well worth two hours of anyones time. Looking back on it it's a shame Bronson never made more films in France in this period as I feel we could of had many more great Bronson performances had he not gone back to American pictures so soon after.

Year: 1970
Aka: Le passager de la pluieDirector: René Clément
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Also Stars: Jill Ireland and Marlène Jobert
Character Name: Harry Dobbs
Age During Shoot: 48
Bronson Kills: 0
Bronson Rating: 8.5/10
Film Rating: 7.5


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