Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.
Singin’ in the Rain 
Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds
Runtime: 103 minutes
It has come to the point where I should probably stop saying I don’t like musicals. I have never had much interest in the genre, but the last few I have seen — Moulin Rouge, My Fair Lady, Dancer in the Dark — I enjoyed quite a bit. Now I can add another to this quickly growing list: Singin’ in the Rain.
What can be said about this 1952 classic that hasn’t already? The songs have been immortalized in American pop culture, so much so that I hear the title song during every trip to the local Jewel Osco grocery store (it plays when the produce sprinklers kick on). The film’s influence is massive — The Artist bears more than a striking resemblance — and it has all sorts of accolades to its name: two Oscar nominations, eight mentions in multiple AFI lists, a ranking of #86 overall on IMDB, a rare 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And, to top it all off, it is considered one of the greatest musicals of all time.
The film’s story is a simple one. Gene Kelly stars as Don Lockwood, a wildly popular silent film star who has been on a roll lately thanks to his collaborations with leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). With the onset of talking pictures looming, their studio, Monumental Pictures, decides to make the transition. Lockwood and Lamont are up to the task, but there is one small problem: Lamont’s voice is far too grating for “talkies.” At the suggestion of Don’s best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), the studio decides to dub Lina’s voice with that of Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), Don’s new flame. Naturally, conflicts arise because of this, but this is a light-hearted musical and it doesn’t get into dark territory at all.
Really, this is all about the song-and-dance numbers, and they sure deliver. This was my first Gene Kelly film, and his performance blew me away. Not only is he ridiculously charismatic, but the dude can dance, too. The choreography in this is just insane, and his numbers with Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds ae often mind-boggling. Some of the physical stunts they pull during their routines are beyond impressive. The three of them have natural chemistry, making their complex numbers look effortless. Jean Hagen is also a treat as the stereotypical dumb blonde, and she was rewarded with a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
My only beef with the film comes from O’Connor. While I appreciated his talents, I found his character to be a little too silly/over-the-top for my liking. I know that many love his big solo routine, Make ‘Em Laugh, but it was just too slapstick for me. Regardless, that is just a small blip on what is otherwise a fantastic musical.
Singin’ in the Rain really is a delight, and it is just one of those rare movies where it’s near impossible to not have a smile on your face for most of its running time. Plus, something must be said if a film has made me second-guess my stance on its genre — maybe there’s something to this, after all?
For more reading on this American classic, I highly recommend these two articles:
Movies That Everyone Should See: “Singin’ in the Rain” from Fogs’ Movie Reviews
What a glorious feeling! Musings on Singin’ in the Rain from FlixChatter