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Singin In The Rain

(10/10)

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Current Rating 9.62/10 | 26 Votes

     Other musicals might be more complex, but none is more beautiful or stylish then this classic ode to the studio system. Ostensibly, Singin' In The Rain is the story of the transition in Hollywood from silent films to talkies as personified by Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), with some dances and a romance thrown in. The truth of the matter is that it is the last great studio film before drastic changes ocurred. The year after this movie, Otto Preminger jumped into a fight with the censors over the use of words like "virgin" and "pregnant" in The Moon Is Blue, which challenged the kind of wholesome and entirely within studio lines movie that this is. None of this is a criticism -far from it. It's just to point out that this movie is an exemplary example of a style of film.

Stanley Donen (a great director in his own right: see Charade, Funny Face and Royal Wedding, among others) co-directed this movie with dancer Gene Kelly. Kelly was a polished director in his own right, although his films tended to come out a bit flat (Les Girls, Invitation To The Dance). Wisely, he co-directed his first three directorial efforts with Donen; Singin' In The Rain was the second of the films they made together, preceeded by On The Town and followed by It's Always Fair Weather. Together, they give the musical an aesthetic sheen that it rarely saw; most musical directors, such as George Sydney (Kiss Me Kate) and Mark Sandrich (Top Hat) shied away from much camera movement besides camera movement during musical numbers. Singin' In The Rain has only such number: the title rendition of the title song. The rest of the songs have gorgeous crane, tracking and panning shots. The editing and other technical efforts are similarly superlative.

Singin' In The Rain is also a hilarious comedy. Donald O'Connor was never better than here, playing the wise-cracking best friend of Kelly; he was born into a vaudeville family, making him perfectly qualified to play a former vaudeville actor. The lines are the kind that only Hollywood can produce, and the humor concerning the difficulties Hollywood had in adjusting to sound, and, more generally, the troubles directors go through is dead on. The film's befuddled hero, symbol of the old Hollywood, is Douglas Fowley as befuddled director Roscoe; any amateur director will instantly relate to his struggles with the misunderstand-ing idiots around him.

What else is there to say? The movie is a tribute to good, honest films that entertain the masses; it has no time or patience for "elitist" art-house films. Indeed, Debbie Reynolds' character becomes likable only when it is discovered that she is not, as she professes, a theater actress but a sort of chorus girl. The audience I saw this movie with applauded vigorously 3 times throughout this almost fifty year old movie. Proof from others, not just me and the real critics, that this movie is one of the great achievements of American cinema.

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