1927 Hollywood. Monumental Pictures' biggest stars, glamorous on-screen couple Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood, are also an off-screen couple if the trade papers and gossip columns are to be believed. Both perpetuate the public perception if only to please their adoring fans and bring people into the movie theaters. In reality, Don barely tolerates her, while Lina, despite thinking Don beneath her, simplemindedly believes what she sees on screen in order to bolster her own stardom and sense of self-importance. R.F. Simpson, Monumental's head, dismisses what he thinks is a flash in the pan: talking pictures. It isn't until The Jazz Singer (1927) becomes a bona fide hit which results in all the movie theaters installing sound equipment that R.F. knows Monumental, most specifically in the form of Don and Lina, have to jump on the talking picture bandwagon, despite no one at the studio knowing anything about the technology. Musician Cosmo Brown, Don's best friend, gets hired as Monumental's ... Written by
The film is set in the immediate aftermath of the release of The Jazz Singer with its industry-revolutionizing use of synchronized sound. However, dialogue dubbing of the sort central to the plot here was not possible until many years later. See more »
[broadcasting on radio]
This is Dora Bailey, ladies and gentlemen, talking to you from the front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. What a night, ladies and gentlemen, what a night! Every star in Hollywood's heaven is here to make Monumental Pictures' premiere of "The Royal Rascal" the outstanding event of 1927! Everyone is breathlessly awaiting the arrival of Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood!
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This isn't my all time favorite (that goes to "Meet me in St. Louis") but this is definitely in the top 10. This is a fictitous musical comedy of the 1920s when silent films became "talkies". It chronicles how it affects Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), his leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), best friend Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) and Lockwood's new girlfriend Kathey Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Problem is Lina has a voice that can cut glass and doesn't like lockwood falling for Selden...
This movie has one highlight after another. Almost all the numbers are great--the title tune, "Make 'Em Laugh", "Beautiful Girl", "Good Morning" on and on. My two favorites are two short ones: "Fit as a Fiddle" which has incredible dancing from Kelly and O'Connor and "Would You?" at the end. Kelly isn't that good acting (he never was) but his dancing is superb; Reynolds (only 19 when she did this) is beautiful, energetic and full of life; Hagen is uproarious as Lamont (she was nominated for an Academy Award--she should have won!) and O'Connor is just great as Cosmo (his "Make Em' Laugh" number has astounding dancing). It's hard to believe that Reynolds and O'Connor hated working with Kelly (he was obnoxious, VERY demanding and a tyrant)--it's a credit to their acting that it never comes through.
I only have one (small) complaint--the big, elaborate production number with Cyd Charisse in the middle. It LOOKS great and colorful--but it brings the film to a screeching halt and is way too long. After it ends I have trouble remembering where the film left off! Still, that's a small problem. This remains one of the 10 best movie musicals ever made. HIGHLY recommended!
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