Singin' In The Rain: Review
Singin’ in the Rain is a thoroughly charming and fabulously entertaining musical that pokes fun at the growing pains experienced by Hollywood during its most awkward transitional stage: the birth of talking pictures.
As snobby as I may sometimes come across about classic cinema, I want the world to know that I absolutely love this movie and in fact owe my great admiration for cinema due in large part to this film. I first saw it when I was very young and have kept it on my all time favorite top ten list ever since. And I am proud to say that Singin’ in the Rain was the very first movie I ever purchased on VHS and was the main reason I kept a VCR years after DVDs became available (I have since replaced the well-worn tape). What makes the film so endearing is perhaps its successful ribbing of the over the top spectacle known as Hollywood while celebrating that candy-coated world.
Case in point: Singin in the Rain starts out at the premier of a silent extravaganza where the star, Gene Kelly, relates in a live radio interview a rather enhanced tale of his road to stardom, one very similar to that of real life actor Gary Cooper’s own true story of a stuntman turned star (minus the dancing and the singing). Additionally, a main thrust of the film focuses on the very real trials that actors went through in order to survive the transition to “talkies”, humorously depicting the crass Lina Lamont (Oscar nominated Jean Hagen) being dubbed by the soft tones of an ingénue played by Debbie Reynolds. And the movie itself is a musical reflecting the staggering number of musicals produced during the early days of sound.
Most importantly, the tone of the film is overwhelmingly joyful - playfully mimicking the older style of humor and songs while adding a lovely little romance right smack dab in the middle of it – just like the early musicals! And you couldn’t ask for more perfect casting. Dance man Kelly (fresh off the success of An American in Paris) simply basks in the role he was born to play.
Comedian Donald O’Connor stops the show as the over-shadowed second banana, and earned a well-deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for his “Make ‘Em Laugh” number. And, of course, Reynolds shines as a lovely and talented young starlet who catches the eye of a popular star. Believe it or not, this is the role that most reminds me of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, in her ingénue role in Star Wars (I’m not kidding. Watch them back-to-back and you will see the similarities in character and action).
I could go on and on, but simply put, Singin’ in the Rain excels at the elements necessary to entertain generation after generation. Easily the most beloved musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain is bound to capture the admiration and devotion of all who see it. If for some reason it fails to capture a similar adoration from you, I have pity for your soul.