Johnny lives a simple life with his wife, Celia, and brother, Polo, in New York
City. When Johnny and Polo's father, John Sr., comes to visit old, and deep-seeded family dynamics start to unfold. Things take quite a turn though when we learn that Johnny is hiding a dark secret, which could change all of their lives for good. Fred Zinnemann's A Hatful of Rain is a raw film depicting the debilitating effects drug addiction can have not only on oneself, but the people they care about. A Hatful of Rain does a great job early on at playing with the viewers perceptions- portraying Johnny as the son with his head on his shoulders while his brother is the perceived screw-up. This is because early on these characters are from John Sr. point-of-view and when Zinnemann pulls the curtain back we begin to notice Johnny's troubling addiction. Being a very taboo subject at the time, Zinnemann does a lot of skillful things in showing how this drug lifestyle is present in everyday society, all around us whether we notice it or not. A great example of this is early on in the film when Johnny is being interrogated by dealers who he owes money too. Two innocent children interrupt, asking for help in navigating the stairs. One of the thugs helps the young boy, and immediately goes back to his interrogation. While many would overlook this simple scene, Zinnemann uses it to show how these types of taboo issues are prevalent all around us whether we know it or not. This is a major theme throughout, with Polo's problems being very much on the surface while Johnny's are hidden in the shadows. The visual design of A Hatful of Rain is very film noir-ish, using lots of shadows and black and white contrast to show Johnny's problems. The urban landscapes of New York are also prevalent in the background, as if Zinnemann wants to remind the audience that Johnny's drug addiction is a part of real life, not just fiction. In the end, Zinneman's film is not only about drug addiction but about two sons so fearful of disappointing their father that they risk hurting themselves or each other to do so. There are tons of nice, subtle undertones about the relationship the two men have with their father - how he was never really there for them when they were younger for example, and one could even argue that with A Hatful of Rain, Zinnemann is showing how John Sr. is ultimately responsible for his son's failings.
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