Written by Staff Writer at CNN
“The Rain Man” which opened in theaters on October 18, 1986 , was one of the most unexpected movie successes of all time. The comedy about two autistic brothers became one of the highest grossing films of all time, grossing over $400 million worldwide and winning several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The movie’s success, though, did not come as a surprise to many. Rain Man star Dustin Hoffman, who won the Oscar for Best Actor, had showcased his talent as a Hollywood leading man for several years in films such as “The Graduate” and “Midnight Cowboy.” And the movie’s screenplay writers, Ronald Bass and Barry Levinson, were two of the most celebrated storytellers in Hollywood at the time. In the late 70s and early 80s, Levinson had already written movies such as “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Rain Man.”
Hoffman as Raymond and Tom Cruise as Charlie in “Rain Man.” Credit: PIXELFORMULA
Ironically, “Rain Man” was shot over just three weeks in June and July of 1988. During that time, Hoffman himself was stricken with pneumonia and decided to rest. The film’s production designers were also fully focused on setting the scene in a Pittsburgh that was authentic for the 1970s. “I couldn’t read a script, so I hardly could practice any lines,” he said.
The film’s critics were also not shocked by the movie’s success. “It is a film that few would have expected to see, an offbeat comedy that might be subtitled ‘an unusual human comedy,'” film critic Leonard Maltin said.
‘Sky of a kite’
Even today, fans remember the movie as a comedic classic. “It’s as pure a story of sibling rivalry as anyone could write and carry off with precision and precision, even if there was a little of the dark comedy that some reviewers might expect, such as the shot of Charlie riding his little friend Chuck on his sky of a kite,” said “The Amazing Rube Goldberg” author Gordon Bennett.
Actors Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Credit: PIXELFORMULA
Now a part of both the cultural and film world, Hoffman is still asked about his famous role. “Why isn’t it about my son?” he asks, and his inquisitor assures him that it is.
Hoffman responded with a sense of humor. “It’s about him, but not about us — it’s about the ambiguous world in which Charlie and Raymond live.”
Jack Nicholson was a part of the movie’s special effects team, while Michael J. Fox portrayed Raymond’s sometime love interest Sue Ellen. The scene of Charlie catching his brother Mike for the first time was actually shot with two sets of eyes, and 25 people doubled for the actors.
The caged dog sequence was also notable. For the scene in which Charlie sneaks in a visit to his grandfather, Peter Boyle, who played Charlie’s grandfather, and the caged dog were filmed together in preparation, but then either actor disappeared or came on at different times, so as not to coincide.