Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Great fun. Great dancing. Singin' in the Rain is a great movie.

Too bad it's taken this movie fan so many years to finally see this wonderful dance film co-directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

This is a must-see movie that, strangely, only garnered two Academy Award nominations - and no wins.

Singin' in the Rain gives an affectionate nod to Hollywood's silent era and the publicity machine that built up its stars, acknowledges studio politics, celebrity worship - love how the fans react to the stars arriving at a film premiere at the movie's start and how a movie can either captivate an audience's interest or send them disgusted to the exits.

It's the late 1920s in Hollywood. The first talkie, Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, is released. The stars and bosses at Monumental Pictures aren't worried - initially. Novelty. Flash in the pan. That is until Jolson's movie starts doing boffo business at the box office. Suddenly, the silent screen pairings of supposed real-life couple Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) now provoke roars of laughter from movie-goers. It doesn't help that Lamont, a beauty on the screen, has a voice that can crack glass.

Lockwood needs a Plan B, pronto, or he figures his run on the big screen is kaput. Buddy Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) and the girl he's really sweet on, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), decide to take his latest project and turn it into a musical. Lockwood can sing. He can dance. Substitute Kathy's voice for the irritating tones of Lina and all should be well.

Lina has other plans.

Kelly's dance sequence, in the rain, after he bids Kathy a good night is impressive, but so are many other scenes in this wonderful film. Check out Kelly's work with Cyd Charisse. I felt like I was in a Salvador Dali painting. Donald O'Connor's Make 'em Laugh dance. Fantastic.

There's some great dialogue too - especially between Lockwood and his supposed girl, Lina. He calls it a "cooked up romance." The sparks are real with Cathy though, despite a less-than-promising introduction.


Lockwood to Lina: "I don't like her half as much as I hate you."

Lina: "I gave an exclusive interview to every paper in town."

Nice touch at the end. Movie is shot in "Hollywood, USA."

RATING: 9/10

NOTES: Millard Mitchell is always fun to watch. Here, he's studio boss R.F. Simpson. Mitchell died in 1953 at age 50. He'd appear in two other films after Singin' in the Rain.

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