Friday’s Favorite Flix – Singin’ in the Rain
This week's Friday's Favorite Flix is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)'s “Singin' in the Rain,” a 1952 award winning (Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor – Donald O'Connor) musical produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.
The story takes place in Hollywood in 1927. It's right at the end of the silent film era and the beginning of talkies. Monumental Pictures is making a motion picture with its two biggest stars, Don Lockwood (played by Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (played by Jean Hagen). After “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson is released to big box office, the head of Monumental, R. F. Simpson (played by Millard Mitchell) decides that its newest movie must be restarted and made as a talkie musical. This is the first talkie the studio has made and all of the laughs you would expect from watching a group trying to quickly learn the new craft – problems with microphone placement, extraneous sound, the poor quality of some of the actor's talking and singing voices and bad dialog are all presented.
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Along the way, Lockwood's best friend, Cosmo Brown (played by Donald O'Conner) is hired to be the musical director and to inject ideas into the film. There's a romantic mess between the public pairing of Lamont and Lockwood and the real romance between Lockwood and Kathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds) who has been brought in to do the voice-overs for Lamont. Finally, there's the eventual public airing of the true, horrible nature of Lamont's voice.
Singin' and Dancin'
Almost all of the songs for this film were borrowed from earlier movies with only two songs written specifically for this one. Of those two, the melody for one them was borrowed from another song. With that said, the songs fit, they're done well and they're fun. In some musical films, the singing and dancing take you out of the story. “Singin' in the Rain” has it's share of numbers that aren't integral to the story, but this film makes it all work.
The dancing in “Singin' in the Rain” is exceptional. Between Gene Kelly's physicality, Donald O'Connor's comedy and Cyd Charisse's sultry moves, all bases are covered – Comedy, Tap, Jazz, Ballet – It's all here. Even Debbie Reynolds holds her own with these great dancers. Although this was her first foray into dancing, according to her co-stars she was a quick learner and great at copying moves. It also helped that she was coached a little bit by Fred Astaire.
A lot of folks consider “Singin' in the Rain” to be the best musical ever produced. While I find it impossible to pick any movie as best overall, regardless of the type, this film is one of my all-time favorites. It's appropriate for all ages and contains enough slap stick to even keep the young ones amused.
About Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper is an applications software developer who also builds custom home media solutions. His interests include reading, music & movies, guitar, woodworking and motor racing.
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