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Moving to San Francisco


The Rain People
Walter Murch Film-maker
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The following year, Francis had written a screenplay for the film The Rain People, which was an original screenplay about a wife coming to terms with a pregnancy that she did not really want. She wasn't ready to have a kid yet and so she travels. She gets in her car and travels across country with this baby inside her and along the way, she picks up a hitchhiker. Shirley Knight played the mother, the wife and James Caan played the hitchhiker and they travel across the country. She flirts with him but it turns out he's brain damaged because of a football accident. And the subtext of the film is that this brain damaged college student that she's carrying with her becomes the proxy for the child that she's carrying in her womb. And one thing leads to another and Robert Duvall enters the picture as a policeman and the football player in the end gets killed trying to protect her from this policeman who gets angry about something when... I forget the particular details of it but it's a kind of domestic tragedy. It ends with her holding this dead baby, this football player and promising to do right by him and you never know what her final decision is, relative to her own pregnancy.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: The Rain People, Francis Coppola, Shirley Knight, James Caan, Robert Duvall

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017