Singin' in the Rain (1952)
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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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
In this film movies are switching over from being silent to being "talkies". However the film is a spoof of the turmoil that afflicted the movie industry in the late 1920s when movies when the change over went from silent to sound. When two silent movie stars', Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, latest movie is made into a musical a chorus girl is brought in to dub Lina's speaking and singing. Don is on top of the world until Lina finds out.
This is such a great film that if you ever get the chance to see this at the movies then DO IT.
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds made an awesome team.
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!
There's an extremely silly story here, loaded with hammy, stereotyped performances.
Gene Kelly is a dance genius and watching him move is an aesthetic thrill. However, his acting here mostly reeks. All of that saccharine grinning gets old really quick.
Donald O'Conner's part is more grating. His wise-cracking smart aleck is forever making vaudeville-tacky jokes. He dances well but is only tolerable with his mouth closed.
Unrecognizably glamorous compared to her moll role of two years earlier in "The Asphalt Jungle," Jean Hagen is funny the first time she speaks, but her chalkboard-scratch schtick eventually produces an earache.
Ah, but the magic of Kelly and his umbrella in the downpour! It captures the essence of man at his best. When we send our rockets into the nothingness of space, these few inches of celluloid should be humanity's calling card.
Kelly's artistry in this brief clip guarantees his immortality!
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.
Don Lockwood is a star of silent movies but his life is boring, then talking movies arrive and with them he eyes an opportunity to greatly improve his life. A chance encounter with dancer Kathy Selden will further shape his destiny, and along with best pal and partner Cosmo Brown, their respective fortunes will hopefully dovetail towards fulfillment.
Where do you start? The film is a homage to happiness, be it film making or love, or friendships and honour, the film is pure and simply joyous from the first reel to the triumphant last shot. Featuring stunning choreography, Singing In The Rain doesn't cop out by merely having characters plodding thru a script and then bursting into song occasionally, each song furthers the characters and fleshes out the story unfolding to keep the plot lines tight and crucially, important.
Make 'Em Laugh, Good Morning, and Singing In The Rain are just some of the brilliant songs and dance routines on show here, with the latter a now legendary piece of cinematic history that speaks volumes for the joyous nature of the film, whilst the finale sequence of the 'Broadway Ballet' is magic & elegance personified. The cast are uniformly excellent, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor & Debbie Reynolds interplay together like they were hatched from the same egg, and the joint direction from Stanley Donen (along with Kelly) is seamless.
Full of hat tipping and self-referencing winks, Singing In The Rain regularly hits the top ten lists of critics and movie fans alike, so lets not beat around the bush about it...it flipping well deserves it. 10/10 in every respect.
In a nutshell, the reason for the high praise, I would think would be: 1 - Likable lead characters (Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor); 2 - Excellent song-and-dance numbers, capped off by one of the most famous of all-time, the title song "Singin' In the Rain," featuring Kelly; 3 - Very good humor throughout the film, aided by Jean Hagen's dumb blonde imitation, which may be the best ever put on film; 4 - Spectacular color (please get this latest 2-disc DVD), and 5 - of course, simply a very entertaining film start-to-finish.
A few side comments: Kelly gets the legacy with his title song dance but O'Connor's dancing in here is just as good. In fact, one of his solo routines reportedly exhausted him so much he could not work for five days. A nice bonus is seeing Cyd Charisse in here, showing off her dancing skills and great legs.
Kelly was without a doubt at the peak of his amazing career as an actor, director, choreographer, and above all dancer. Each scene is dripping with bright, vibrant colors and plenty of laughs. Kelly's class and charm just exudes from the screen.What makes the film so extraordinary is the way each song and dance number flow effortlessly and are perfectly intergrated into the story. These numbers not only showcase the amazing ability of Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and even Debbie Reynolds, but also the exuberance of that happy and carefree feeling of the 1920's.
Some of the standout numbers are of course the title dance through the rain, and Broadway Melody, but also the hilarious "Make Em Laugh" where O'Connor displays his talent of blending humor and acrebatic movements, and "Good Morning" where Reynolds holds her own between the 2 greatest dancers of the time.
This film is an American classic and an absolute must see. It's the perfect movie to watch if you want to laugh, smile, or just simply watch something that leaves you with a good feeling. I know I am always left with a glorious feeling in my heart.
`Singin In the Rain,' is also generally known as the greatest musical of all time. Roger Ebert, the late Gene Siskel, Leonard Maltin, and many other prominent critics agree with that opinion. The plot was born from a song and used others that had been around for many years, ever since `the talkies' were born in the late 20s. The screenplay was written according to the songs. Although the cast had been cast, and re-cast several times; the end result was one of perfect chemistry. The combination of the ever-so talented Gene Kelly (arguably 1 of the 2 best film dancers ever) and Debbie Reynolds worked very well, despite complications that arose off the set. And Donald O'Connor was born for his role as Cosmo Brown, the best buddy to Kelly's Don Lockwood. His wit keeps the film fresh and funny. If you took a drink for every smart remark he made, you'd be drunk, before Lockwood gets the girl!
All the characters in this film are dynamic, save Cosmo Brown and Lena Lamont (played by Jean Hagen). This was perfect for what was called for, for this film to succeed. This helps the film `move,' where other musicals fail. This is where the irony enters; since this film was written in reverse of this philosophy. Being able to incorporate quality songs into a quality storyline is a skill no studio has ever mastered, even to this day. Even, MGM, which was known as `the king of the musicals', failed more often than it succeeded. To this day, no one has mastered it; although Disney has almost reached MGM proportions with its animation department.
As the film opens, the premiere for one of the famed `Lockwood/Lamont' films is taking place for `The Royal Rascal.' As the stars arrive, one by one, Cosmo Brown arrives. A bit later Lockwood and Lamont arrive. Lockwood tells a `story' of how he and Cosmo get to stardom. To celebrate the release, there is a party at the studio's producer's house. But to get there, Lockwood must go by a different rout than everyone else, finding Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) in the process. After a few cute surprises and accidents, Don gets a conscience attack. After finally finding her, he realizes that he cares for her. Meanwhile, Cosmo Brown keeps up his antics and funny nature. The comic relief is never amiss in this film. Lamont soon learns of the romance and is up to something, but what? What do you think she is, `.dumb or something?'
The co-director (also co-directed by Gene Kelly) Stanley Donen called the `Moses Supposes' dance sequence with Kelly and O'Connor, the best dance sequence ever. I agree that it is in the Top 3, but not the best, that's in another film; which Donen directed, for another review. All numbers in this film are memorable, where most from other films are not.
There is only one detraction in this film. It is the `Broadway Melody' sequence. It begins with another interesting and amusing song and dance number by Mr. Lockwood, trying to convince his producer of something. But the scene becomes too long and unnecessary. Cyd Charisse is an amazing talent, but the dance number she has in the film, should have been deleted. It is mesmerizing, but is out of place in this film. This 13 minute sequence should have ended at about 7-8 max. Still, this detail is so minute, that it isn't a bad detraction. When this film was released in 1952, it opened to luke-warm reviews and average box office receipts. It wasn't until it's `10th Anniversary,' that people began to notice that `Singin' In the Rain' was special and has been known as such ever since. The AFI, when it released it's list of `The 100 Greatest Films Ever,' ranked this film No.10, to put it at the highest mark for a musical of any era and place Ms. Debbie Reynolds as half of the only mother/daughter combination on the list*. `Singin' In the Rain,' is always fun to watch, the film has also been recently released on DVD with tons of extras. As enduring as Mr. Kelly's lamppost lean is, so this film echoes Mr. Lockwood's sentiments of nothing; nothing but pure joy that is.
Personal Rating: 99 on a 100 point scale
*Note-Ms. Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher appeared in AFI's No. 15 film, `Star Wars.'
This is a nearly perfect film from my perspective: It feels naturally improvised. Its episodes are radically discontinuous, but feel like fluid transitions. It has some great numbers, including the incomparable Cyd Charisse.
But what really puts this on my `must see' list is the deep self-reference. Superficially, it is a movie about a movie, but actually the folding is a whole lot more complex, even psychedelic. The narrative structure is flashbacks, flashforwards, about the movie, IS the movie, about the fooling behind the movie (oddly, Debbie's non-movie songs were dubbed by someone else!). It has nested abstractions, and encompassing ones. It has several manner of annotative features. And the internal movie itself grows while we watch to have internal nesting of different types: the original costume drama becomes a vision from a modern newcomer whacked on the head. And further, there is the Charisse number which is another abstraction.
There were precessors: `Kane' (41) introduced the use of many parallel narrative devices, `Children of Paradise' (45) had conflated reality and performance: `Red Shoes' (48) took it to dance, and those are must see as well. But here, the technique becomes visual jazz improvisations on reality. Thrilling.
None of the people involved ever came close on other projects. Odd.
Ted's evaluation: 4 of 4 -- Every visually literate person should experience this.
The musical numbers flow fast and furious as Gene and Donald perform amazing feats of choreography with Fit as a Fiddle' and Moses Supposes' while Good Mornin' will have you dancing in the aisles. If Singin' in the Rain' had no musical numbers it would still be a contender for the funniest film ever made. The problems with experiments with sound films are painfully funny, and Kelly's silent sparring with the demonic Hagen is hilarious. The accolade of sheer perfection can be conferred on few films, and such a title is perhaps even an understatement in this case. And never before did rain look like so much fun.
This movie has a cool concept. it's about the transition from silent movies to sound and the problems that arise. Actors/Actresses with unpleasant voices for instance, like Lina Lamont, played by Jean Hagen, will not be wanted in sound movies. That is the basic story here in this film. Lina Lamont has a horrible high pitched voice that needs to be dubbed out. Kathy Selden, played by the beautiful Debbie Reynolds, is chosen to do the voice over for Lina. Of course things don't go as planned and it culminates in an entertaining ending.
Arthur Freed wrote the lyrics to the songs and they were excellent, specially the title number "Singin' in the Rain" which Stanley Kubrick repeated it in his black comedy "A Clockwork Orange," in 1971...
But the mysterious power of "Singin' in the Rain" remains in the script, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green whose sprightly adaptation were also shown in musicals like "On the Town," "It Always Fair Weather," and "Bells Are Ringing." The film is a brilliant musical, the best picture by far of Hollywood in transition...
It is a gentle satire on the movie modes and manners of the twenties, put together around the problem that faced several actors and studios in their transition from silent films to talkies... This transition is in reality horror and shock to several film stars who failed for not having enough way of speaking, effective word order between image and voice...
"Singin' in the Rain" is the story of a wildly funny sex goddess played by Jean Hagen who steals the classic as an aggressive no-talent squeaky-voiced silent-screen goddess forced to use blackmail to keep her star in the Hollywood sky Jean was in love with Kelly who wanted to substitute her by the talented chorus girl Debbie Reynolds..
"Singin' in the Rain" is rich in the brilliant way in which it is written and done... Its three production numbers are extraordinary, illuminating the picture with different forms of entertainment and bright colors The big number 'Broadway Ballet,' is a surrealistic extravaganza filled with magic, huge cast, spectacular use of light, color, costumes and sets, plus a marvelous ballet danced by Kelly and Cyd Charisse...
Gene Kelly became legendary as a choreographer and director... With Stanley Donen, in addition to "Singin' in the Rain," he made "On the Town," and "It's Always Fair Weather." Taken all together, they are constituent element to surpass most of musical achievement...
Gene Kelly's genius has never been more apparent than in this movie, but, as always he never steals the show, in fact here practically having the show stolen from him by Donald O'Connor's gravity defying 'Make 'Em Laugh' and Jean Hagen's unforgettable Lina Lamont. Kelly's title number is the epitome of carefree nonchalance. The guy's in love and he isn't going to let a little rain get in the way. This 'classic' scene is possibly the feelgood moment to beat all others. I defy anyone not to succumb to the Kelly's Irish charm during this number, if you haven't already been won over.
But a musical is just a musical without a decent story. That's where Comden and Green's pertinent screenplay comes in. Using Nacio Herb Brown's songs from the era in which the movie is set we are taken back to Hollywood in transition, a time when silent movies were ousted by the talkies. For what is generally regarded as just a light-hearted song and dance movie 'Singin In The Rain' takes a pretty accurate line and takes a satirical swipe at the studios and the gossip mongers of the day. There were stars, like Lina Lamont, whose careers disintegrated on the advent of talking pictures, and others, like Kathy Seldon, whose stars were beginning to rise. For a while, there weren't enough voice coaches to go round! The race to match the success of 'The Jazz Singer' was truly chaotic, with studios churning out potboiler after potboiler to cash in on the talking picture. It was also a time when MGM itself started it's reign of the musical genre with epic production numbers, and casts of thousands. In a sense,'Singin In The Rain' both lampoons and celebrates it's own ancestry and place in cinema history.
Exhilarating, exuberant, and mesmerising. Still, in my opinion, the most entertaining, and the best, movie ever made!