Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
Directed by: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Written By: Adolph Green, Betty Comden
Rating: [Approved] (US) Running Time: 1 hr 43 min
You may have never seen Singin’ in the Rain, but I bet you’ve seen Gene Kelly dancing in it. It’s possible you’ve never heard Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds sing the song ‘Good Morning’, but I bet you’ve hummed it at one time or another. Such is the lasting impact of what is to many, one of the greatest Hollywood musicals of all time, Singin’ in the Rain.
The story is set in Hollywood in the year 1927. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the most famous silent movie stars in Hollywood. That is until The Jazz Singer is released by a rival studio. The very first motion picture in history with synchronized dialogue, and it heralded the era of the talkies. So long silent films – audiences wanted to hear their favorite stars talk and sing!
Don and Lina have to adapt, but they have what Cosmo Brown ( Donald O’Connor) calls – a triple threat. Lina Lamont. She can’t sing, dance or act! So in steps Kathy Selden, (Debbie Reynolds) who can do all three, and the gang try to save their latest motion picture The Dueling Cavalier by turning it into a musical.
Singin’ in the Rain started out as a collection of songs MGM already owned. Most of which had already been used in other productions. The story was then written to incorporate them and it shows. It’s pretty weak to be honest, and the movie often seems to forget it’s telling a story as we move from one musical number to the next. But that’s forgivable for film like this, as this is a musical in the purest sense. It’s a stage for each of its lead stars to show you what they’ve got, and boy do they do that!
Donald O’Connor’s ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ performance is exhausting to watch! Leaping on and off and crashing into moving set pieces, wrestling with a dummy, and then running up walls to do amazing backflips. There’s no stunt double, no quick editing, and no CGI here, just an amazingly talented dancer with seemingly limitless reserves of energy.
Gene Kelly’s performance of the movie’s title song too is a lot of fun to watch. Even more amazing when you consider he had a 103 degree fever at the time! But his performance during the ‘Broadway Melody Ballet’ is a much better showcase of Kelly’s dancing abilities. A blend of styles from ballroom to ballet to jazz to lyrical are all evident, and performed beautifully. The ballet sequence is also one of the more stunning moments of the film, in both the technique of the dancers, and the visually arrangement.
Let’s not forget Debbie Reynolds either. This movie was her first big break, and she wasn’t even a dancer when they started filming. Yet she still manages to apply her background as a gymnast, and keep up with the established stars Gene and Donald. Apparently with some help from the one and only Fred Astaire who happened to be on set.
Singin’ in the Rain IS the consummate classic Hollywood Musical. It looks fantastic, and sounds amazing. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner are incredible dancers, who also bring a great deal of charm to their roles. This is also pretty funny, and despite a paper-thin plot, the script delivers some truly hilarious moments. The musical numbers are intricate and great to watch, and the songs are timeless. This is absolutely a must see for any film fan, or any aspiring dancer!
Rating: 4/5 Stars!