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Rain Man
Rain Man poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byBarry Levinson
Screenplay by
Story byBarry Morrow
Produced byMark Johnson
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byStu Linder
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byMGM/UA Communications Co.
Release date
  • December 16, 1988 (1988-12-16)
Running time
134 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$354.8 million[2]

Rain Man is a 1988 American road drama film directed by Barry Levinson, from a screenplay written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of abrasive, selfish young wheeler-dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed virtually all of his multimillion dollar estate to his other son, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant, of whose existence Charlie was unaware. Charlie is left with only his father's beloved vintage car and rosebushes. Valeria Golino also stars as Charlie's girlfriend Susanna. Morrow created the character of Raymond after meeting Kim Peek, a real-life savant; his characterization was based on both Peek and Bill Sackter, a good friend of Morrow who was the subject of Bill (1981), an earlier film that Morrow wrote.[3]

Rain Man premiered at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Bear, the festival's highest prize.[4] It was theatrically released by MGM/UA Communications Co. in the United States on December 16, 1988, to critical and commercial success, grossing $354.8 million, on a $25 million budget, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1988, and received a leading eight nominations at the 61st Academy Awards, winning four (more than any other film nominated); Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (for Hoffman), and Best Original Screenplay.[5]

As of 2021, Rain Man is the first and only film to win both Golden Bear and Academy Award for Best Picture.


Collectibles dealer Charlie Babbitt is in the middle of importing four grey market Lamborghinis to Los Angeles for resale. He needs to deliver the cars to impatient buyers who have already made down payments in order to repay the loan he took out to buy them, but the EPA is holding the cars at the port because they have failed emissions tests. Charlie directs an employee to lie to the buyers while he stalls his creditor.

When Charlie learns that his estranged father has died, he and his girlfriend Susanna travel to Cincinnati in order to settle the estate. He inherits only a group of rosebushes and a classic 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible over which he and his father clashed, while the remainder of the $3 million estate is going to an unnamed trustee. He learns that the money is being directed to a local mental institution, where he meets his elder brother, Raymond, of whom he was unaware his whole life.

Raymond has autism and savant syndrome and adheres to strict routines. He has superb recall, but he shows little emotional expression except when in distress. Charlie spirits Raymond out of the mental institution and into a hotel for the night. Susanna becomes upset with the way Charlie treats his brother and leaves him. Charlie asks Raymond's doctor, Dr. Gerald Bruner, for half the estate in exchange for Raymond's return, but Bruner refuses. Charlie decides to attempt to gain custody of his brother in order to get control of the money.

After Raymond refuses to fly to Los Angeles, he and Charlie resort to driving there instead. They make slow progress because Raymond insists on sticking to his routines, which include watching The People's Court on television every day and getting to bed by 11:00 PM. He also objects to traveling on the interstate after they encounter a car accident. He also insists on making a stop at a K-Mart store back in Cincinnati. During the course of the journey, Charlie learns more about Raymond, including his ability to instantly perform complex calculations and count hundreds of objects at once, far beyond the normal range of human subitizing abilities. He also realizes Raymond had lived with the family as a child and was the "Rain Man", a comforting figure that Charlie had falsely remembered as an imaginary friend. Raymond had saved an infant Charlie from being scalded by hot bathwater one day, but their father had blamed him for nearly injuring Charlie and committed him to the institution, as he was unable to speak up for himself and correct the misunderstanding.

Charlie's creditor repossesses the Lamborghinis, forcing him to refund his buyers' down payments and leaving him deeply in debt. Having passed Las Vegas, he and Raymond return to a casino on the Strip and devise a plan to win the needed money by playing blackjack and counting cards. Though the casino bosses obtain videotape evidence of the scheme and ask them to leave, Charlie successfully covers his debts and reconciles with Susanna, who has rejoined the brothers in Las Vegas.

Returning to Los Angeles, Charlie meets with Bruner, who offers him $250,000 to walk away from Raymond. Charlie refuses and says that he is no longer upset about being cut out of his father's will, but he wants to have a relationship with his brother. At a meeting with a court-appointed psychiatrist, Raymond proves unable to decide for himself what he wants. Charlie stops the questioning and tells Raymond he is happy to have him as his brother. As Raymond and Bruner board a train to return to the institution, Charlie promises to visit in two weeks.



A now-abandoned gas station and general store in Cogar, Oklahoma was used in a scene from the film. The Colvert sign has since been removed, revealing the full name of the business.
A now-abandoned gas station and general store in Cogar, Oklahoma was used in a scene from the film. The Colvert sign has since been removed, revealing the full name of the business.

Roger Birnbaum was the first studio executive to give the film a green light; he did so immediately after Barry Morrow pitched the story. Birnbaum received "special thanks" in the film's credits.[citation needed]

Real-life brothers Dennis Quaid and Randy Quaid were considered for the roles of Raymond Babbitt and Charles Babbitt.[6] Agents at CAA sent the script to Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, envisioning Murray in the title role and Hoffman in the role eventually portrayed by Cruise.[3] Martin Brest, Steven Spielberg and Sydney Pollack were directors also involved in the film.[7] Mickey Rourke was also offered a role but he turned it down.[8]

Principal photography included nine weeks of filming on location.[9] Other portions were shot in the desert near Palm Springs, California.[10]: 168–71 

Almost all of the principal photography occurred during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike; one key scene that was affected by the lack of writers was the film's final scene.[3] Bass delivered his last rough cut of the script only hours before the strike started and spent no time on the set.[7]


Box office

Rain Man debuted on December 16, 1988, and was the second highest-grossing film at the weekend box office (behind Twins), with $7 million.[11] It reached the first spot on the December 30 – January 2 weekend, finishing 1988 with $42 million.[12] The film would end up as the highest-grossing U.S. film of 1988 by earning over $172 million. The film grossed over $354 million worldwide.[2]

Critical reception

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 79 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critical consensus states: "This road-trip movie about an autistic savant and his callow brother is far from seamless, but Barry Levinson's direction is impressive, and strong performances from Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman add to its appeal."[13] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 based on 18 critic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times called Rain Man a "becomingly modest, decently thought-out, sometimes funny film"; Hoffman's performance was a "display of sustained virtuosity . . . [which] makes no lasting connections with the emotions. Its end effect depends largely on one's susceptibility to the sight of an actor acting nonstop and extremely well, but to no particularly urgent dramatic purpose."[16] Canby considered the "film's true central character" to be "the confused, economically and emotionally desperate Charlie, beautifully played by Mr. Cruise."[16]

Amy Dawes of Variety wrote that "one of the year's most intriguing film premises ... is given uneven, slightly off-target treatment"; she called the road scenes "hastily, loosely written, with much extraneous screen time," but admired the last third of the film, calling it a depiction of "two very isolated beings" who "discover a common history and deep attachment."[9]

One of the film's harshest reviews came from New Yorker magazine critic Pauline Kael, who said, "Everything in this movie is fudged ever so humanistically, in a perfunctory, low-pressure way. And the picture has its effectiveness: people are crying at it. Of course they're crying at it—it's a piece of wet kitsch."[17]

Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four. He wrote, "Hoffman proves again that he almost seems to thrive on impossible acting challenges...I felt a certain love for Raymond, the Hoffman character. I don't know quite how Hoffman got me to do it."[18] Gene Siskel also gave the film three and a half stars out of four, singling out Cruise for praise, "The strength of the film is really that of Cruise's performance...the combination of two superior performances makes the movie worth watching."[19]

Rain Man was placed on 39 critics' "ten best" lists in 1988, based on a poll of the nation's top 100 critics.[20]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[5] Best Picture Mark Johnson Won
Best Director Barry Levinson Won
Best Actor Dustin Hoffman Won
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow Won
Best Art Direction Ida Random and Linda DeScenna Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Film Editing Stu Linder Nominated
Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Stu Linder Won
American Society of Cinematographers Awards[21] Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases John Seale Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival[22] Golden Bear Barry Levinson Won
Berliner Morgenpost Readers' Jury Award Won
BMI Film & TV Awards Film Music Award Hans Zimmer Won
British Academy Film Awards[23] Best Actor in a Leading Role Dustin Hoffman Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow Nominated
Best Editing Stu Linder Nominated
César Awards[24] Best Foreign Film Barry Levinson Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards[25] Best Actor Dustin Hoffman Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Film Barry Levinson Won
Best Foreign Director Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Dustin Hoffman Won
Best Foreign Producer Mark Johnson Nominated
Best Foreign Screenplay Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards[26] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Barry Levinson Won
Golden Globe Awards[27] Best Motion Picture – Drama Won
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Dustin Hoffman Won
Best Director – Motion Picture Barry Levinson Nominated
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow Nominated
Goldene Kamera (1989) Golden Screen Won
Goldene Kamera (1991) Golden Screen with 1 Star Won
Heartland Film Truly Moving Picture Award Barry Levinson Won
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Nominated
Jupiter Awards Best International Film Barry Levinson Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards[28] Best Film Won
Best Director Barry Levinson Won
Best Actor Dustin Hoffman Won
Best Supporting Actor Tom Cruise Won[a]
Kinema Junpo Awards Best Foreign Language Film Barry Levinson Won
Mainichi Film Awards Best Foreign Language Film Won
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video from a Film "Iko Iko" – The Belle Stars Nominated
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign Director Barry Levinson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Valeria Golino Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Awards[29] Best Actor Dustin Hoffman 3rd Place
New York Film Critics Circle Awards[30] Best Actor 2nd Place
Nikkan Sports Film Awards Best Foreign Film Won
People's Choice Awards Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture Won
Turkish Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film 2nd Place
Writers Guild of America Awards[31] Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow Nominated
YoGa Awards Worst Foreign Actor Dustin Hoffman Won

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

In popular culture

Rain Man's portrayal of the main character's condition has been seen as creating the erroneous media stereotype that people on the autism spectrum typically have savant skills, and references to Rain Man, in particular Dustin Hoffman's performance, have become a popular shorthand for autism and savantism. Conversely, Rain Man has also been seen as dispelling a number of other misconceptions about autism, and improving public awareness of the failure of many agencies to accommodate autistic people and make use of the abilities they do have, regardless of whether they have savant skills or not.[32]

The film is also known for popularizing the misconception that card counting is illegal in the United States.[33]

The Babbitt brothers appear in The Simpsons season 5 episode $pringfield. The film is mentioned in numerous other films such as Miss Congeniality (2000), 21 (2008), Tropic Thunder (2008) (in which Tom Cruise made an appearance), The Hangover (2009), Escape Room (2019), and also in the television series Breaking Bad.

Raymond Babbitt was caricatured as a rain cloud in the animated episode of The Nanny, "Oy to the World". During the episode, Fran fixes up CC the Abominable Babcock with the Rain Man. He is portrayed as a cloud of rain mumbling about weather patterns and being an excellent driver.

Qantas and airline controversy

During June 1989, at least fifteen major airlines showed edited versions of Rain Man that omitted a scene involving Raymond's refusal to fly, mentioning the crashes of American Airlines Flight 625, Delta Air Lines Flight 191, and Continental Airlines Flight 1713, except on Australia-based Qantas. Those criticizing this decision included film director Barry Levinson, co-screenwriter Ronald Bass, and George Kirgo (at the time the President of the Writers Guild of America, West). "I think it's a key scene to the entire movie," Levinson said in a telephone interview. "That's why it's in there. It launches their entire odyssey across country – because they couldn't fly." While some of those airlines cited as justification avoiding having airplane passengers feel uncomfortable in sympathy with Raymond during the in-flight entertainment, the scene was shown intact on flights of Qantas, and commentators noted that Raymond mentions it as the only airline whose planes have "never crashed".[34][35] The film is credited with introducing Qantas' safety record to U.S. consumers.[36][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Rain Man (1988)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on November 5, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Rain Man at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c Barry Morrow's audio commentary for Rain Man from the DVD release.
  4. ^ "Berlinale: 1989 Prize Winners". Archived from the original on June 9, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  6. ^ Mell, Eila (January 24, 2015). Casting Might-Have-Beens: A Film by Film Directory of Actors Considered for Roles Given to Others. ISBN 9781476609768.
  7. ^ a b Bass' audio commentary for Rain Man from the DVD release.
  8. ^ "Mickey Rourke: a life in film". Time Out. Archived from the original on May 9, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Rain Man Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Variety, December 14, 1988
  10. ^ Niemann, Greg (2006). Palm Springs Legends: creation of a desert oasis. San Diego, CA: Sunbelt Publications. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-932653-74-1. OCLC 61211290. (here for Table of Contents Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine)
  11. ^ "Weekend Box Office: December 16–18, 1988". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office: December 30 – January 2, 1988". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 24, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  13. ^ "Rain Man (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on June 5, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  14. ^ "Rain Man Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  15. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". December 20, 2018. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "December 1988 review from The New York Times".
  17. ^ Kael, Pauline. Rain Man at Metacritic, The New Yorker (Feb. 1989)
  18. ^ Rain Man review Archived January 20, 2021, at the Wayback Machine Ebert, Roger
  19. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 16, 1988). "CRUISE'S PERFORMANCE GIVES 'RAIN MAN' STRENGTH". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  20. ^ "100 Film Critics Can't Be Wrong, Can They? : The critics' consensus choice for the 'best' movie of '88 is . . . a documentary!". Los Angeles Times. January 8, 1989. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  21. ^ "The ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography". Archived from the original on August 8, 2011.
  22. ^ "PRIZES & HONOURS 1989". Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  23. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1990". BAFTA. 1990. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  24. ^ "The 1990 Caesars Ceremony". César Awards. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  25. ^ "Chicago Film Critics Awards – 1988–97". Chicago Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  26. ^ "41st DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "Rain Man – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  28. ^ "KCFCC Award Winners – 1980-89". December 14, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. December 19, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "1988 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". Mubi. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  31. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  32. ^ Treffert, Darold. "Rain Man, the Movie/Rain Man, Real Life". Archived from the original on August 27, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  33. ^ Rose, I. Nelson; Loeb, Robert A. (1999). Blackjack and the Law. Rge Pub. ISBN 978-0-910575-08-9.
  34. ^ "Airlines Cut Scene From 'Rain Man'". The New York Times. June 29, 1989. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  35. ^ Weinstein, Steve (June 29, 1989). "Uneasy Airlines Get Final Cut on 'Rain Man'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 16, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  36. ^ Kamenev, Marina (November 24, 2010). "Qantas: Airline Safety's Golden Child No More?". Time. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  37. ^ "Is Qantas still the world's safest airline?". January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2015.

External links

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