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Singin’ in the Rain

April 23, 2010

Singin’ in the Rain

Singing In The Rain

Now, if you know me, you know I like my movies to be odd, and I have a couple of very odd musicals that I’m dearly in love with, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Repo! The Genetic Opera, but Singin’ in the Rain might be my favorite musical of all time.  It is an up tempo happy story of the struggle from silent film into the world of sound films that just pumps off of the screen.  This isn’t only just a fun film, it is also extremely well made.

As I’ve said about the story, it is about the transition from silent films to sound films and the struggle that a production company faces.  Don Lockwood was a relative unknown stuntman who had the good fortune of running into Lina Lockwood on the set of a film and falling for her a little.  He was able to use this to propel himself and his buddy, Cosmo Brown, into the real world of show business.  For years in their silent films Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont have been playing a love interest in silent films and people still expect to see their pairing together for the new sound films.  As Lockwood adapts developing a great voice for film, Lina Lamont simply doesn’t have to chops.  As their last silent film is bombing, Lockwood has to escape a throng of fans and he ends up escaping them with the help of Kathy Seldon.  Sorry, this part of my story telling is really scatter shot and not flowing extremely smoothly.  Lockwood ends up falling for Seldon, even though their romance has to be kept a secret because even back then the news loved celebrity gossip and all the rumors were that Lamont and Lockwood were romantically linked.  When the studio finally agrees that Lamont has a terrible voice Lockwood suggests having Seldon take over for her.  A young up and coming actress, and he actually is interested in her.  This idea seem good until Lamont points out her contract gives her a lot of power and they really can’t do that, so Seldon is just slipped in to do voice over work.  This causes a rough patch in the Seldon and Lockwood budding romance.  It isn’t until the premiere of the film, that Lamont decides to take it one step too far lip syncing up on stage, while Seldon, behind the curtain actually is singing.  Lockwood, with the help of Cosmo, raise the curtain and bring down Lamont’s career, start Seldon’s career, and the secret romance isn’t a secret anymore.

Gene Kelly is one of the two biggest starts of musicals at that point in time, and it was either him or Fred Astaire that people would go to see dance and sing their way across the silver screen.  And there is a good reason for that, he gives an extremely entertaining performance as Don Lockwood.  Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor star opposite of him.  Reynolds does a very good job as Kathy Seldon.  And O’Connor does an amazing job providing the comic relief as Cosmo Brown.  There are several points in time, especially early in the film with the number “Make Them Laugh” that O’Connor steals the show from Kelly with his “off the wall” slapstick humor.  Jean Hagen plays Lina Lamont and does a good job filling in that bitchy role.  All of the cast is very solid and entertaining and have talent with actual voices.  Hagen went on to act in many more films that weren’t silent.  They all did their own singing as well, for the most part, in this film, and they do a very good job of it.  Oddly enough the only scene where Debbie Reynolds doesn’t do her own singing is at the end when she is singing behind the curtain.  So at that point she was lip syncing for someone lip syncing while someone else actually sang, very confusing bit of trivia there.

Gene Kelly pairs with Stanley Donan to make this film.  They do a very good job with everything that is shot getting a great performances out of their actors and portraying it in an entertaining way.  This film is made more impressive by the fact that the songs weren’t written for this story.  Singin’ in the Rain, the title song had been used in films before and most of the other songs had as well.  MGM decided that they wanted to take the most popular songs and put them into one musical so the writers had to create the story around the songs, which is backwards from how it is generally done.  This offered challenges in and of itself as the songs didn’t always go together all that well.

Overall this is a highly entertaining film.  You do really laugh in this film, feel bad when Lamont puts Seldon behind the scenes in her power play, and feel much of the emotions that are portrayed in this film.  It is a musical though, and while it is always in the top 100 films by AFI (and always the top musical), not enough people have seen it because musicals aren’t in style anymore and with a few exceptions are rarely made anymore or make it big.  This one shouldn’t get looked down upon because it was a musical (and musicals were huge when this film came out) as it still offers a ton for the current audience to enjoy, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of musicals.

Entertainment Grade: A-

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

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