Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: A Hatful of Rain

This week’s selection is the 1957 film A Hatful of Rain. The film stars Eva Marie Saint, Don Murray, Anthony Franciosa, and Lloyd Nolan. The film is based on the stageplay of the same name and was written by Michael V. Gazzo. He also adapted the play for the screen with an assist from Alfred Hayes and (then blacklisted Carl Foreman); Foreman was not to receive screen credit from the Writer’s Guild of America until 1998, 14 years after his death (source: Wikipedia).

The film was directed by Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity, High Noon) with a musical score by frequent Hitchcock collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.


Why I Like This Film

It is part of that set of films in my estimation, that were starting to crop up in the late 1950’s (and into the 60’s) that attempted to take realistic look at issues plaguing contemporary society. In this case, the issue of drug addiction was the subject. Hatful of Rain is a poignant and heartbreaking account of a man, played by Don Murray, riddled with a heroin addiction he acquired while in a military hospital (he is a Korean War veteran).

His behavior is not known to his pregnant wife (Saint) or his recently-arrived father (Nolan) who, along with his brother (Franciosa – who knows what ails his brother), all live in the same cramped apartment.

What has touched me over the years about this story is not only the central theme of the battle the lead character in undergoing but also the toll it takes on those around him.

Two other items of interest:

1) A bit of trivia: Anthony Franciosa received an Academy Award nomination for his performance.

2) Unfortunately, this title is not available for purchase but it is definitely worth scouting on TCM or any other specialty movie channel.


  1. Jack Deth says:

    Hi, luv and everyone:

    I’ve seen ‘A Hatful Of Rain’ a few times on TCM and enjoy it not for Don Murray and Eva Marie Saint. Who are both excellent in a kind of a gritty, inner city ‘Rebel Without A Cause’.

    The underlying meat of this great shadowy B&W film is handled deftly by the secondary roles. Especially Lloyd Nolan who stays in the dark aided by Anthony Franciosa. It’s the bad guys, Henry Silva, Gerald S.O’Laughlin and a slimy, creepy, young William Hickey who revel in their characters and go for broke.

  2. yes, lloyd nolan does stand out as a man in serious denial about his sun. until i thought about the film more and did a little research, i almost forgot who “mother” was.

  3. This film has special resonance for me because the exterior scenes were shot in my downtown lower east side neighborhood when I was a kid. The buildings shown in the film as being where this sad family lives are where I lived: the Alfred Smith Housing Projects. They’re still there, though the surrounding neighborhood has gentrified itself into the South Street Seaport. None of that when we were kids. 🙂

    We saw the film being shot on several days and I, at least, got to see Don Murray and Eva Marie Saint and the film crew in the flesh. Very exciting. I don’t remember ever seeing Anthony Franciosa (on whom I had the BIGGEST crush!).
    A very under-rated actor in my view.

    Though once the film went inside, the sets were probably shot in Hollywood. The apartment shown in the film had a totally different interior set-up than our ‘real-life’ apartments which were all cookie-cutter standard. Nice, but not glam or very spacious.

    I loved this film when I first saw it. I felt very grown up watching such a serious subject being talked about AND shown onscreen. My heart broke for Anthony Franciosa’s character because it seemed to me (and still does) that he had the most to lose and did, indeed, lose it. Don Murray’s character was so necessarily self-focused, self-centered, self-involved that he never saw what he was doing to those around him – never truly cared really. How could he? He was addled by drugs.

    I always hoped that once Eva Marie Saint had seen him through his rehab (if any) she’d have had enough gumption to leave him for his brother. But I kind of doubted it. Women didn’t do that in those days.

    Henry Silva and William Hickey were such evil thugs. Perfect.

    • Thanks for the insight Yvette – that is another reason I recall liking the film. For my late father, it harkened to part of his childhood. He did not grow up in Manhattan but spent part of his childhood in the Bronx and (primarily) Brooklyn.


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