Movie Notes: Singin’ In The Rain
= 5 stars
Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds
Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
It’s 1927, and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), cinema’s biggest stars, are forced to adapt their talents to the latest movie technology: sound.
- Solid music and dance numbers in every combination imaginable: Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor performing duos, adding Debbie Reynolds for trios, and Kelly’s classic, heart-tugging “Singin’ In The Rain” solo number. There’s also a late, nearly abstract wordless number (Broadway Melody) featuring a proto-nerd saying “gotta dance!” repeatedly, paired with the mysterious Cyd Charrise in an outrageously-cut green dress. Several of Kelly’s movies feature a pure dance number which abandons the plot near the film’s end. All have an amazing minimalism, making magic out of simple props like a sofa or an umbrella, that required actual, physical talent rather than layers of CGI nonsense. The numbers “Singin’ In The Rain,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and “Good Morning” are cinematic history.
- Funny bits that still hold up after multiple viewings: the initial meeting between Kelly and Reynolds, ending with her jumping out of a cake, the crew’s disastrous experiments with sound (the realization that Lina Lamont [Jean Hagen] has a terrible voice – the microphone is in the bush!), the aforementioned “Make ‘Em Laugh” number, and slapstick details sprinkled throughout.
- Rock solid performances by Kelly, O’Connor, starry-eyed, sunny Reynolds, and special mention for ditzy, snooty grump Jean Hagen of the annoying voice. They can all act, dance, and sing to different degrees but their combination is often marvelous.
- Some social commentary still applicable today. The fickle nature of celebrity is amply skewered, from the opening satirical movie premiere sequence to Lamont’s desperate clinging to fame. Techies can find some interest in technology changing business models – the stars struggle in adapting to the inevitable leap from silent to sound. The film in total provides an entertaining overview of entertainment history from vaudeville, Busby Berkeley, The Jazz Singer, to behind-the-scenes peeks at the movie-making process.
- N/A. Only a heartless bastard could find anything to dislike.
Works on multiple levels: musical, romantic comedy, social satire, and mood enhancer – each viewing puts me in a good mood, as it reminds me of the joy of movies and life itself. Another movie everyone should see before they die.