Singin’ in the Rain (1952) -Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

 

For me, screen musicals don’t get any better than Singin’ in the Rain. It’s my favourite. It combines great music, with a fun look at Hollywood on the cusp of transitioning to talkies, and features some wonderful sequences and a completely charming cast in the form of Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

It’s also the next title in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book as I make a stop in the Musical genre.

Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Cosmo Brown (O’Connor) are former vaudeville performers who moved to movies, where Lockwood was catapulted to the level of matinee idol. But such things mean nothing to Kathy Seldon (Reynolds – all of 19 when she took the role), or so she says.

While they flirt, dance, and croon classic tunes, the studio has a problem, it seems Warner Brothers has made a film called the Jazz Singer, and now all the studios are trying to make talkies. And theirs look like a clunker thanks to the horrible vocal performance of Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), who has big ideas for her and Don. Well, that and a horrible script and some sound problems…

Things will need to be resolved, songs sung, and dances stepped to and they are all wonderfully choreographed thanks to Kelly’s work, a perfectionist, and his efforts and the casts’ make for screen gold. From the title song, sung and danced by one who is in that dream of love, to the show-stopping Make ‘Em Laugh, which let’s O’Connor bring the house down (I mean, the skill required for this sequence, wow!).

Vibrant colours, a sharp, witty story, and oh those songs!

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I remember the first time I saw it, one night on television, as my sister and I enjoyed a break in our schooling. From there it became part of my regular viewing schedule, and I even shared it with a couple of people who never liked musicals, but walked away saying they enjoyed it.

Don’s story is a classic feel good Hollywood story, starting as a musician, moving to stunts, then on to acting and fame. And he gets the girl.

A joyous marriage of music, dancing, and ‘behind the scenes movie making’.

This, for me, is the best movie musical ever, and I’m sure some folks would disagree, but for me, this one holds, and maintains a wonderful sense of play, and joy, and great songs. The choreography is amazing, watching some of the sequences, the wide shots, and the need for each beat, each step to be right, is nothing short of jaw-dropping, and magical.

The film works to this day because of the wonderful marriage of all those things that define not only a musical, but a film in general, performances, story, chemistry, characters and images.

So much fun!

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