Singin’ in the Rain

Released: 1952
Director: Stanley Donan, Gene Kelly

Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds

The perfect movie musical – why haven’t you seen it yet?

The 1940s and 1950s was the golden era for the movie musical.  A true classic was produced almost every year and most of these came from the lot of the famous MGM studios.  You must know the films – Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, High Society, Annie Get Your Gun, Gigi.  The list goes on and on and almost everything on it is a real classic.

Despite being recognised now as one of the greatest films of all time, with accolades such as the number one slot on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Musicals and being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, Singin’ In The Rain, was not a great financial success on its release.  Proof if we needed it that the box office isn’t everything.

Singin’ In The Rain is a film about films, about Hollywood, actors and actresses and most importantly the transition from silent movies to the ‘talkies’.  Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont (Gene Kelly and Jean Hagan) are the most popular film stars in their world – their love stories, almost always period pieces, enchant audiences everywhere.  As does the story of their own true love, a story completely fabricated by the studio’s publicity team.  Despite her good looks and ladylike appearance Lina is a shrill-voiced, shallow harridan.  Don is much more interested in chorus girl Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), a sworn enemy of Lina following a cream pie incident at a Hollywood party.

The first Lockwood and Lamont talkie, The Duelling Cavalier, is a disaster – the preview audience treats it with derision and many vow to never watch another Lockwood and Lamont film again.  Don, Kathy and Don’s best friend Cosmo Brown (a scene-stealing Donald O’Connor) hatch a plan to save the film by turning it into a musical with Kathy dubbing Lina’s dreadful voice.  Can The Dancing Cavalier save the studio, Lockwood and Lamont’s reputation and careers and Don and Kathy’s blooming relationship?

It’s hard to know where to begin with Singin’ In The Rain, there’s just too much brilliance.  The iconic scene where Gene Kelly dances through puddles twirling his umbrella happily?  Or Donald O’Connor’s slapstick masterpiece Make ‘Em Laugh? Or the three-hander Good Morning?  Or my personal favourite – Moses Supposes?  Almost every scene is a classic, the performances by the entire cast are wonderful.  Jean Hagan’s portrayal of Lina Lamont in particular is amazing, she is the perfect pantomime villain and the character always gives me hope that I could be in a musical one day, if any producers reading need a dreadful singer then I’m here..  I love the introduction where Don tells the media about his rise to fame in voiceover while a flashback sequence contradicts his classy words.  Even little asides such as the exotic actress dismissing the talkies as “vulgar” are memorable.  For me the only bum note is the Broadway Melody sequence with Cyd Charisse that goes on just a little too long.  That’s just a personal quibble and I know lots of people would disagree thoroughly.

I can’t believe there could be anyone left over the age of 6 who hasn’t yet seen Singin’ In The Rain.  If there is then what the hell are you thinking?  Get yourself a copy of the film, some ice cream, a large popcorn and settle down to enjoy one of the greatest movies of all time.  Go.  Now.  Do it.

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  1. I just watched it last night for about the 50th time. It’s not my favorite musical but it is one of the best.

  2. I think this one of those films that is instantly recognisable and yet lots of people have only seen bits of it. It does seem to be on all the time over christmas!!

    Great write up Louise. Thanks for sharing,

    • Thanks for popping in. I’ve got to make my husband sit down and watch it, he’s never seen it. I’m ashamed I’ve let him get to the age he is without having done so…

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