Decades before the Hollywood film industry became famous for megabudget disaster and science fiction spectaculars, the studios of Southern California (and particularly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) were renowned for a uniquely American (and nearly … see full wiki
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are matinee idols who appear in silent films produced by a studio headed by R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell). I think Hagen's hilarious portrayal of her is the equal of Judy Holliday's best work. Here in Texas, we would say that Lina is dumber than 100 chickens. Lockwood endures her in public while doing all he can to avoid her in private. Unexpectedly, he meets and falls in love with an aspiring young singer and dancer, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Kathy eventually provides the voice Lina needs when appearing in sound movies. Don's best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), is involved in all this delightful silliness, at one point providing a brilliant solo performance of "Make `Em Laugh." This film is much too good-natured to be considered satire. There isn't a mean bone in the body of the film. Each member of the supporting cast is superb, notably Mitchell and Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, director of the Lockwood-Lamont films. Stanley Donen and Kelly are identified as co-directors. Betty Compden and Adolph Green co-wrote the sparkling script and also contributed songs to the musical score as did Fred Brown, Roger Edens, Nacio Herb Brown, and Hoffman. I cannot think of another film which combines both music and comedy as effectively. An American in Paris and Chicago are also among my favorites but neither is as cohesive (I am tempted to say seamless) as is this glorious entertainment. You can thus understand why I am so pleased that the "Special Edition" has such a wealth of supplementary materials such as a Commentary in which Reynolds, O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Donen, Comden and Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/film historian Rudy Behlmer participate; "What a Glorious Feeling": a new 30-minute documentary about the making and impact of Singin' in the Rain: and "Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM," a 96-minute documentary about the career of producer-songwriter Arthur Freed. Treasures all!
For whatever reasons, Singin' in the Rain was nominated for only two Academy Awards and received neither. That's ridiculous. I wish it had been possible for this cast and crew to do another musical comedy together, this time focusing on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In that event, who would have been cryin' in the rain?
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