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
Howard Keel was the original choice to play Don Lockwood; however, he was replaced by Gene Kelly as the screenwriters evolved the character from a "Western actor" background to a "song-and-dance vaudeville" background. See more »
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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Singin' in the Rain is one of the best movies ever made. The film is beautiful, tuneful, and loads of fun. While it pokes fun at Hollywood it also does so with great love. Little bits and pieces of Hollywood lore find their way into this great film and it's a pleasure to get the joke or recognize the real star they're referring to.
The star trio is just perfect: Gene Kelly give a funny performance as the hammy silent actor; Donald O'Connor makes the most of his "second banana" role; Debbie Reynolds is perfect as the ingénue trying to break into films.
The three stars perform many memorable numbers, including Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" classic; all three in the "Good Mornin'" number; O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh"; and Kelly and Reynolds in "You Were Meant for Me." The masterpiece however may be the "Gotta Dance" production number with Kelly and Cyd Charissejust perfect. Also great fun are O'Connor and Kelly in "Fit as a Fiddle" and "Moses Supposes."
There are of course other production numbers, including the montage that shows Hollywood's race to transition to talkies, a scene that ends in the "Beautiful Girl" number featuring Jimmy Thompson.
Jean Hagen (as Lina Lamont) won an Oscar nomination and steals the film in a classic comedy performance. Also good are Millard Mitchell, Douglas Fowley, Rita Moreno, King Donovan, Kathleen Freeman, Mae Clarke, Julius Tannen, and Madge Blake.
The great trick to this film is that while Reynolds is supposedly "lip syncing" for Hagen, it's really Hagen's voice that Reynolds is miming to as in the "I Would, Would You" number. The final miming act is Hagen mouthing "Singin' in the Rain" is really Reynolds. It gets so confusing you can't tell who is lip syncing whose voice.
Lots of Hollywood lore retold in this film. Hagen's Lamont character is a veiled reference to Norma Talmadge, who supposedly failed in talkies because of her New York accent. It's also a reference to Louise Brooks, whose talkie debut in The Canary Murder Case was all dubbed. When Kelly screams "I LOVE YOU" it's a reference to John Gilbert in is talkie debut flop. His Glorious Night. Kathleen Freeman's diction coach character is a reference to Constance Collier, who returned to Hollywood as a coach. And on it goes.
A great film!
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