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Singin' in the Rain

A movie directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

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Gotta Cheer!

  • Jul 13, 2003
For reasons too numerous to mention, this is my favorite musical comedy. Miraculously, it seems fresher and more entertaining each time I see it. Over time, it has developed what I guess could be called a cult following and then as it began to appear on television, in HVS and then in DVD formats, it was widely recognized as a great film. Indeed, it is ranked #10 among 100 on the list of the American Film Institute's "America's Greatest Movies." Only rarely has "Hollywood" felt secure enough to make fun of itself; especially to spoof its own difficult transition from silent to "talking" films. That is precisely what this film does with exceptional style, grace, wit, and energy.

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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More Singin' in the Rain reviews
review by . June 10, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
An exhilerating and fast-moving musical comedy, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is one of MGM's best-loved musicals.Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN tells the hilarious story of what happened when Hollywood exploded with the advent of sound pictures ("Talkies").Jean Hagen won high praise for her riotous performance as Lina Lamont, silent screen queen with the killer looks and a voice like sulphuric acid! Her voice is the main drawback for the bigwig studio producer (Millard Mitchell). …
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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #168
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


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 extinct) kind of picture known as The Musical. Indeed, when the prestigious British film magazineSight & Soundconducts its international critics poll in the second year of every decade, this 1952 MGM picture istheAmerican musical that consistently ranks among the 10 best movies ever made. It's not only a great song-and-dance piece starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and a sprightly Debbie Reynolds; it's also an affectionately funny insider spoof about the film industry's uneasy transition from silent pictures to "talkies." Kelly plays debonair star Don Lockwood, whose leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) has a screechy voice hilariously ill-suited to the new technology (and her glamorous screen image). Among the musical highlights: O'Connor's knockout "Make 'Em Laugh"; the big "Broadway Melody" production number; and, best of all, that charming little title ditty in which Kelly makes movie magic on a drenched set with nothing but a few puddles, a lamppost, and an umbrella.--Jim Emerson
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Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Release Date: 11 April 1952 (USA)
Screen Writer: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
DVD Release Date: September 24, 2002
Runtime: 103 min
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