Dignity – Always Dignity
Singin’ in the Rain is one of my all-time favourite movies. It is such a feel-good movie, which has it all – fantastic acting, dancing, singing, and dialogue – set against the twenties glamorous looking Hollywood. Why didn’t I live back then?! This movie celebrates the joy of filmmaking, joy of love and joy of friendship. It is a buddy comedy mixed with romcom.
In the movie Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) are huge movie stars, but then comes the transition from silent movies to talking movies. They are faced with a problem of how to make a musical with an actress who is a triple-threat (can’t act or sing or dance)? And whose speaking voice is higher than Mickey Mouse’s on helium. With a cunning use of a lovely unknown actress – of course – who can do all the above.
Singin’ in the Rain has been quoted as the best Hollywood musical ever made and it absolutely lives up to that. The transitions between dialogue and dance / musical numbers are seamless. This is the first musical where the songs were actually incorporated into the plot in the way that they enhance the characters’ emotions instead of being a separate part of the movie.
The film features a 12-minute Broadway Melody Ballet dance number, which took a month to rehearse and two weeks to shoot. My favourite song and dance number is “Good Mornin.” It just makes you want to get up and start dancing and singing for no apparent reason. No, I did not do that – I thought to spare my neighbours from wondering who was terrorising a cat.
The most famous scene of the movie is “Singin’ in the Rain.” It was actually shot during daytime under a black tarpaulin. During the filming the technicians lost water pressure in the late afternoon when the residents of Culver City, US arrived home and turned on their sprinklers to water their lawns and gardens. Gene Kelly once said when asked about how he was going to approach this scene: “It’s going to be raining and I’m going to be singing. I am going to have a glorious feeling and I am going to be happy again.” That quote summons up the feeling in this movie. It is glorious to be happy!
You have been reading those fan magazines again – smashing it up Glee-style
The real triple threat of this movie is its three main stars. Gene Kelly holds such a charisma that during the dance numbers you cannot take your eyes away from him – he dances with such ease. He also co-directed and choreographed the movie. So it’s no wonder that Singin’ in the Rain is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Donald O’Connor as Cosmo delivers fantastic slapstick comedy especially in the “Make ‘Em Laugh” number. He went on to win the 1952 Golden Globe award for “Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical or Comedy” for his performance. Debbie Reynolds as Kathy is such a pill of joy that you feel energized for days. At the time of filming “Singin’ in the Rain”, she was 19 years old. Gene Kelly, whose character falls in love with her character in the movie, was 40 years old at the time.
If you’ve seen one – you’ve seen them all