Singin’ in the Rain

singin-in-the-rain-poster

Release date: April 11, 1952
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Story by: Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Screenplay by: Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell

Oh, everyone’s going to hate me for this review. When asked to choose a number, Rodrigo picked #316, which turned out to be the classic American Golden Age musical, Singin’ in the Rain, starring none other than the magnificent Gene Kelly — who turned out to be our archetype of the PERFECT dance sequence [1] to make our list of music videos featuring dance. The last time I ever saw the film was a couple of years ago when a friend came over, and we decided to pop the DVD in.

For the uninitiated, Singin’ in the Rain is a Technicolor musical that comically paints the last days of a Golden couple of the silent film era. Think of it as color version of The Artist, but you know… FUN. The film spawned three musical sequences that have plagued pop culture references ever since: Donald O’Connor’s Make’Em Laugh [1], the iconic Good Morning [1] or the title track, Singin’ in the Rain [1][2]. It stars (and is partly directed by) Gene Kelly in his most recognizable role as Hollywood superstar Don Lockwood, a silent star sitting at the top of his world beside silent Queen legend — and rumored girlfriend — Lina Lamont (Hagen). When in the late 20s, the industry is rattled by the advancement of “talkies” and the release of the musical, The Jazz Singer.

While Lockwood’s studio is trying to figure out how not to be swept away by the times, Lockwood meets the feisty but proper Kathy (Reynolds), who teases him by not acknowledging his stardom, only to end up working with him… and, of course, falling in love with him and his charms.

Though Singin’ in the Rain missed out on Academy Awards nominations on most of the musical and technical categories — only nabbing a well-deserved Supporting Actress for Jean Hagen — and is considered one of the best (if not the best) musicals of all time, I found this viewing experience lacking. Even though I really loved watching it the first few times and enjoyed it greatly, grand psychedelic musical numbers and all, I felt so many of these numbers were filler. It is a known fact that most of the songs featured in the film are re-hashed songs, and viewing the narrative of the film, it feels that way. It’s the best answer from haters of the musical genre, that these characters burst into song that have nothing to do with moving the plot, and it happens here. As beautiful as the Broadway Melody Ballet sequence inside the whole Broadway number is, it’s pointless. And it gets a little irritating.

The best element in Singin’ in the Rain, though — besides how entertaining it can be to see Kelly, O’Connor and Reynolds interacting with each other, getting you to sing to Good Morning, or the Kelly/O’Connor combination in Moses Supposes — has gotta be bad girl Ms. Lamont and her road to becoming a “talkie” star. The first recording sessions with her on historical get-up, roses on her dress and pearls on her neck had me rolling on the floor laughing the first time and still manages to get big laughs from me. Everything from Lamont’s maddening high-pitched, weirdly accented voice, her diction classes, the presentation of her “talkie” debut in the Dueling Chevalier, to her worst moments, Ms. Lamont was the perfect Mean Girl compared to the good-behaved but rather plain Kathy. Ironically, Hagen dubbed Reynolds when Reynolds’ character was “dubbing” Lamont on the Dancing Chevalier.

Despite my falling a little out of love with the film, it’s still worth a look for the mere fun of it. If you really love the musical genre, it really is a must. Storytelling and character development aside, Singin’ in the Rain is a great piece of fluff that won’t fail to make you smile.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Like to see what else is in my personal movie collection? Pick a number between 3-382, and if it isn’t already reviewed, I’ll do it.

amy

YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

3 Responses

  1. ghost says:

    How dare you not LOVE this?

    • amy says:

      @ghost, I did like it. It’s just this time around when watching it because someone had picked it, and I was watching it for critique that I didn’t as much. I still sang along to it, but I did find a lot in the middle to be dragging. Plus, the story isn’t overly complicated or dramatic unlike Moulin Rouge or… Memories of Matsuko.

      I even think West Side Story might be a better realized musical, though not as pop-culturally recognizable.

  1. April 10, 2014

    […] Singin’ in the Rain (1952) […]

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