Directors: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Original Release: 1952
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
If we have a favorite Family Movie Night movie, it is most certainly Singin' in the Rain. It is the movie that has been picked most often and has been chosen by each of us at least once. Yes, I keep stats.
Singin' in the Rain is a movie for people who love movies. It is the fictionalized account of one of the industry's great transitions: the emergence of "talkies," motion pictures synchronized with sound. Don Lockwood (played by Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the silent film stars. Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is the ingenue who catches Don's eye and Lina's ire. Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) is Don's goofy sidekick. Many of the characters are based on real-life actors who struggled to survive in the new landscape brought on by the advent of sound.
My own feelings about the film are the reverse of my feelings for last week's feature. In this case, I feel the story is stronger than the music. The songs are catchy but, in the grand tradition of show tunes, a little too catchy. The witty dialogue sparkles and the acting is delightful, especially from Hagen and the show-stealing O'Connor:
The real treat of Singin' in the Rain, however, is the dancing. Obviously, no less than genius should be expected from Kelly in that regard but O'Connor matches him step for step. Keeping up was a much taller order for Debbie Reynolds. Apparently, Kelly was horrible to her regarding the dance numbers. Reynolds, however, had an unexpected savior. Fred Astaire found her crying under a piano in the studio one day and offered to help.
The central plot involves Kathy dubbing Lina's voice in the new talkies. In a cruel twist, Singin' in the Rain was also dubbed. When Kathy dubs Lina, Jean Hagen's natural voice is used instead, for both singing and speaking. When Kathy sings as herself, she is usually dubbed by the uncredited Betty Noyes. Debbie Reynolds's natural singing voice is only heard in her one sung line of "You Are My Lucky Star."
After the movie ended, Our Girl asked if there were more Gene Kelly movies. We reminded her that she's actually seen a couple of them: An American in Paris and The Three Musketeers. Given her interest, I expect I will be featuring more of his work over the coming months.