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I don't like musicals. They never made any sense to me. Don't get me
I love music; it's an important part of my life. I love movies also, and
while the two often compliment each other, sometimes I'm repelled. It's
probably the dancing. A person breaking into a complicated dance number,
seemingly unaware of their surroundings, or worse yet, in complete synch
with a complete stranger is like making fun of the movie, as if to say,
"Please don't take us seriously, we like to sing and dance." Or even more
ridiculous, "Let's not fight, let's settle this dispute with a song and
dance." Forget about suspension of disbelief.
This film however, I manage to enjoy. I once was given the task of my film teacher to watch the film and keep track of all the cuts in the film. Well, sometime after ten minutes I lost track because I was so wrapped up in the story. It really is an interesting period in the history of cinema, told well, and with well placed song and dance numbers that at times drag on, but that seems to be more of an excuse to show off the technicolour than anything else. They build you up to it slowly. The first few numbers don't break out at an inappropriate time. It doesn't last though, but by then they've got you.
With such memorable tunes as these, it's hard to imagine them going wrong. When Gene Kelly sings the title piece, somehow time stands still as you're swept up in one of the most memorable scenes in film history. Just reading the title in print has likely caused you to hum a few bars, or sing a few words. Or maybe, just maybe, walk out without an umbrella when you know it's raining. One thing's for sure, if all Gene Kelly did was choreograph the dance numbers, he more than deserves the co-directing credit he has.
They simply don't make films like this anymore. Which in some ways is a testament to the film's theme and narrative. The business of show is constantly in a state of evolution. The narrative portrays a time period when silent films were being replaced by "talkies" with sound, yet the musical genre itself has almost all but disappeared with the exception of animated films with musical numbers, and rare live-action pieces.
One might speculate that Hollywood overdid the musical. Personally, I can't get into them. Most of the time it seems like a drawn out affair, but this film is something special. Considering my feelings about musicals, it would have to take a film of this one's caliber to make me sit up and take notice.
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are a famed
Hollywood duo, making films at the tail end of the silent era. The
studio has been issuing PR suggesting that they're a romantic item. In
reality, they can barely stand one another. One night, while on the
town with his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O' Connor), Lockwood has
to run to escape fans who want a piece of him badly enough that they'll
literally rip his clothes to shreds. He hops over a number of moving
vehicles and ends up in the passenger seat of Kathy Selden's (Debbie
Reynolds) car. Lockwood seems immediately taken with her, but she gives
him the cold shoulder. She says she's an actress with a love of
theater, and she looks down on film acting. Later, Lockwood discovers
that she was inflating the truth a bit, as he sees Selden performing as
a cute song & dance girl at an industry party he's attending. She runs
out of the party and Lockwood chases after her, but he's too late.
While he tries to track her down, he, Lamont and their studio have to
deal with the changing nature of film in 1927--made much more difficult
by the fact that Lamont may look glamorous, but she talks more like
Fran Drescher in "The Nanny" (1993).
Aside from the more serious aspects of the plot, Singing in the Rain is a great success as a romance and a musical. It also has an astoundingly rich Technicolor look, and it is charmingly humorous. Kelly and Reynolds click on screen, even if offscreen Kelly, who also co-directed and co-choreographed, was famously difficult to work with--he drove Reynolds so hard (she was a much more inexperienced dancer) that her feet literally started bleeding at one point. The songs are great, they're worked into the story well--which is perhaps surprising given that most of them weren't written specifically for this film--and the choreography is impeccable, frequently jaw dropping and always aesthetically wondrous and sublime. If for nothing else, the film is worth a look for its often-athletic dance numbers, which can resemble Jackie Chan's showy martial arts stunts as much as dancing. It's also imperative viewing for cultural literacy in the realm of film.
But the more serious aspects of the plot are fascinating as well. In a significant way, Singing in the Rain is about film technology. Film technology is the hinge of the plot, after all. The climax and dénouement are decided by the advent of synchronized sound in the film industry. We see studio head R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) demonstrating sound films at the party where Lockwood sees Selden for the second time, providing two big turning points at once. There are sequences of actors heading off to diction coaches, as happened in reality once sound entered the scene, and also in reality as in the film some actor's careers were jeopardized by having to suddenly master a new skill.
But Singing in the Rain is about technology on another level, too. Kelly and co-director Stanley Donen go to great lengths to ensure that the film is an exemplar of state-of-the-art film technology in 1952. For example, the beautiful Technicolor cinematography is emphasized by the fabulously colorful costumes and production design--they're showing off cutting edge color. The sound is as good as it could be in 1952, and the fact that this is a musical helps show that off. The sets and effects are complex and an attempt is made to show them off as well.
Donen and Kelly often play up the artificiality of the sets and effects to emphasize artistry and technology. This is clearly shown in the "Make 'Em Laugh" sequence (and surrounding events) and the extended "Broadway Rhythm Ballet" sequence with Cyd Charisse. Showing off this artistry and technology also occurs very subtly, as with the rain in the "Singing in the Rain" sequence. Even today, rain machines are frequently employed in a way that it appears to be raining on film, but in reality, it's just enough coverage to produce the illusion. In the "Singing in the Rain" sequence, they make sure that you can see the whole area is getting flooded, and they use Gene Kelly's umbrella, as torrents of water bounce off of it, to emphasize that no matter where he goes, "rain" is pouring down on him.
While there are many musicals I like as much as Singing in The Rain, this is one of the better-loved examples of that genre, and for good reason. Any musical lover has surely seen this already, and if not, they should run out now and pick it up on DVD. If you're relatively unfamiliar with classic Hollywood musicals, this is one of the best places to start.
Many good things can be and have been said about this one and they're all true. It's a great movie. The title number gives us Don Lockwood (Kelly)...In love as no other person has ever been in love, no doubt. He steps out the door and it's raining but he's oblivious to the rain. Who needs an umbrella when you've got wings on your heart and on your feet? Not the incomparable Gene Kelly as he treats us to THE single finest moment in the history of cinema. Do not miss this one.
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!
One thing I noticed in reading the comments of this movie is that nobody recognized the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Without their screenplay the movie does not get made. It is a great script that was made better by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donens' fluid direction. Everything in this movie glides effortlessly. Throw in dancing by Donald O'connor, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse and of course Gene Kelly, Great songs and the willingness of producer Arthur Freed to let the creative people to do their thing and you have a classic.
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!
Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen have produced the best musical written directly
for the screen. They have used the period in film history during the
transition to sound movies and
embroidered it with the wonderful songbook of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb
Brown. The icing on the cake, of course is the
choreography of Kelly and Donen. From the first moment, the movie takes
flight as Kelly relates the tale of his rise as a silent film star with his
sidekick, the incomparable Donald O'Connor. Watch the flying feet of
O'Connor and Kelly in the "Fit as a Fiddle" number. It doesn't get much
better than this.
Everyone is familiar with the classic "Singin' in the Rain" sequence. Donald
O'Connor's hysterical "Make 'em Laugh" number is probably the funniest
musical three minutes on film. Even the Broadway Ballet is a kaleidoscope of
color and movement, with a minimum of the highbrow balletic choreography
found in the later "An American in Paris."
What makes "Singin'" such an entertaining classic is its superb integration of comedy and music. Jean Hagen gives the performance of her life as the vocally challenged silent film star, Lena Lamont. Every scene she's in is a comic gem. Her "fingernails on a blackboard" voice and massacre of the English language make her a figure of ridicule. However, in the end when she finally gets her comeuppance, one can't help feeling a little sorry for her.
This delightful film has been given its due on video. On VHS it can be purchased with the complete remastered soundtrack on CD. The laserdisc versions include one with commentary by film historian Ronald Haver (Criterion) and the film-only version from MGM/UA Home Video with a restored Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack., Last,but not least,is a masterful rendering on DVD with, unfortunately, no supplementary material to speak of.
This is truly a film for all time that can be watched just for its entertainment value and studied as probably the apex of the Hollywood musical in its Golden Age.
This is my favorite movie musical with no stage forebear.
Consider what's in the mix: A cachet of songs, all tried-and-true from other movies. A cast that was at the top of its form, all the way from Kelly himself to the supporting leads played by Rita Moreno and Millard Mitchell. A script that is, at once, romantic and exciting and sharp and funny.
Stir together with a generous heaping of MGM color and a dash of a director with a stellar pedigree and the result is, well, something like "Singin' in the Rain."
There's not a misstep in the movie's entire 103-minute running time. I love the pokes at early filmmaking ("She never *did* figure out where that microphone was, boss!") and the sheer energy of the musical numbers ("Fit as a Fiddle," "Good Mornin'").
Not only that, but there's not a more romantic scene in all of filmdom that can compare with Reynolds and Kelly dancing to "You Were Meant for Me." Their side-by-side tap dancing says more about how they feel about each other than pages and pages of dialog.
If you think this movie is just the sequence of Kelly splashing like a five-year-old in a puddle, you obviously haven't seen the entire film. Do so--now! You won't regret it!
PS: In the "rent-this-too" category, if you've seen and love "Singin' in the Rain," check out "The Band Wagon." It skewers the world of theater in much the same way as this film roasts Hollywood!
The transition from the silent film era to the newly arrived technique
of the 'talkies' proved to be the ruin for many well established stars
that were great on the screen, but who had no professional training in
the theater, or otherwise, and had horrible speaking voices. Thus, a
star of the magnitude of Lina Lamont, suffers a hard blow to her career
That's the basis of one of the best movies about old Hollywood of all times: "Singin' in the Rain". The film is one of the classics it is because of the marvelous direction of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, two men who knew a lot about musicals. The screen play is by one of the best people in the business, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
MGM was the studio that employed all the stars one sees in the film, and what a cast they put together: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse in a dancing part, Millard Mitchell and Rita Moreno. As if those names weren't big enough, there is the fantastic musical numbers that even, viewing them today, have kept their freshness because of the care in which this film was crafted.
"Singin' in the Rain" is one of the best musicals of all times. It's right up there with the best of them thanks to the vision of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen and it will live forever as more people discover this wonderful example of entertainment.
I'm going to confine my comments about "Singin' in the Rain" to the
"Broadway Rhythm" sequence where Cyd Charisse steals the movie without
saying a word. In my view, Charisse, who is still gorgeous at 83, was
the quintessential movie dancer of the 1950s. Her height, elegance,
aloofness and those impossibly long legs -- along with an uncanny
ability to match her style to that of her partner -- makes watching her
dance a mesmerizing experience.
Many have said that the two numbers in "Singin' in the Rain" that feature Charisse probably belong in another movie. I don't know as the flapper in jade, she sexes up Kelly's rube character to a steamy height unusual in movies of that era. In a dance full of wonderful moves, my favorite comes after she's left him with her cigarette holder. She sashays away from him, blowing on her nails in studied boredom. She's gotten some distance away, and as she tosses her right hand back, he throws down the cigarette holder, grabs her hand and brings her flying up to his chest, where she proceeds to slide down Kelly's thigh to the floor for one of several prone positions she takes during this duet, from which she returns to a standing position with amazing grace. I'm not wild about dances that rely heavily on props, but this one does so very effectively: they're amusing and they reinforce character.
And thank heaven for the artistic control that allowed Kelly to keep the "crazy veil" number in the picture. Charisse has discussed that dance, where she got to show off her early ballet training, most charmingly for a "Word of Mouth" feature on TCM. She and others have noted over the years that the wind machines required to keep that impossibly long veil moving and undulating between and above her and Kelly made filming a nightmare. But it looks effortless, on a set that is a subtle optical illusionnot as deep nor as sloped as it appears to be.
Both dances end the same way. Whether she's a cheap gangster's moll in garish green or a Grecian goddess in white, less obviously in a mobster's sway, Charisse is invariably lured back to reality by proffered baubles and menacingly tossed coins. But at the end of the crazy veil number, she's the one tossing the coins.
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