A Hatful Of Rain was the rare Hollywood movie to confront the issue of drug addiction in the 1950s. Restrictions on how movies depicted violence and sexuality gradually loosened in the 1960s and 1970s, but prior to this most films tackled bloodshed or controversial issues in more of a veiled manner. For instance, it used to be a major taboo in American movies to depict a gun being fired and a person being hit by it in the same frame; movies like 1964's A Fistful Of Dollars would break this tradition.
There have been a lot of movies that have dealt with the issue of drug addiction. The Panic In Needle Park from 1971 was an early breakthrough role for Al Pacino as a young heroin addict. British drama Trainspotting depicted the lives of a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh, which was praised for its performances, energy and often disturbing look at the consequences of addiction. Requiem For A Dream from director Darren Aronofsky is considered one of the most disturbing films on the topic, with each of its main characters being destroyed physically or psychologically by their habits.
A Hatful Of Rain was one of the earliest Hollywood dramas to take a look at the subject. The movies stars Don Murray and Eve Marie Saint (Superman Returns) as married couple Johnny and Celia Pope. Johnny is regarded as a hero for his time in the Korean War, though an injury he sustained in service led to an addiction to morphine. The only person who knows about this addiction is his brother Polo, who helps feed his habit and keep it hidden.
A Hatful Of Rain is based on a Broadway play and movie sought to address the subject realistically. It shows the psychological effect addiction has on both Johnny and his family and depicts his withdrawal symptoms. Johnny and Polo also run afoul of a sinister drug dealer played by Henry Silva (Ocean's Eleven), who chases them for money owed. The movie doesn't try to sugarcoat the topic at all and while it's relatively tame by modern standards, it's a powerful drama.
The studio was still a little antsy about the project, so when parts of composer Psycho composer Bernard Herrmann's score was considered too terrifying, he was asked to rescore it. A Hatful Of Rain ends on something of a hopeful note for Johnny and his family, and while the movie wasn't a big hit at the time, it found an audience in later years.