Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain ★★★★½

Having never seen Singin' in the Rain, I was not about to pass up the chance to see it on the big screen as part of TCM's collaboration with Fathom Events to bring such classics to theatres. I'm a young classic film fan, so I never had a chance to see these films as they were intended to be seen. Singin' in the Rain is one of those films that begs to be seen on 50-foot screen with surround sound. The 1952 film turns 65 this year and is just as pertinent now as it ever was. Starring Gene Kelly and his rapid-fire feet, alongside the recently departed Debbie Reynolds in the film that takes an inside look at making it in Hollywood, Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain was the most fun I could have possibly had on a Sunday afternoon.

The year is 1927, there are murmurs around the studio system that a film company has been toying with synchronous sound. For Monument Pictures, however, those murmurs go ignored as they are firmly focused on the stars making the studio prosper. On-screen couple Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are audience favorites of the silent screen. Although their relationship is strictly for the screen only, Monument Pictures has let it leak to the gossip columns that they are an off-screen couple as well, believing it would boost their already stellar ratings. Behind closed doors, however, Don can't stand Lina, and the dim-witted Lina thinks she and Don are truly engaged. The two have gotten used to the mobs of fans they encounter at every turn as each of their pictures proves more successful than the last. When The Jazz Singer, the first talkie is released, Monument Pictures must make some quick adjustments in order to keep up with the Hollywood evolution. When the technology proves too much to learn in too short a time span, studio heads think they might be sunk. The major problem facing the two stars is Lina's voice. Lina has a voice that makes one long for fingernails scratching along a chalkboard. If Lina is heard talking on screen, no one will likely come to a Lockwood-Lamont film ever again. Fortunately for the duo, Don's new love interest, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) has a fantastic voice, and as much as Don despises the idea, it is planned that she will record Lina's parts, dubbing Lina's voice, for one film only. When a jealous Lina intervenes and attempts to trap Kathy to permanently dubbing her voice, therefore ruining any career Kathy might have, Don won't have it. Plotting a daring and dangerous stunt that could ruin all careers involved, Don pulls off the ultimate sacrifice for Kathy.

The 2012 Best Picture winner, The Artist; a film that I happen to love, takes many cues from Singin' in the Rain. Several times throughout the film I was reminded by The Artist, and anytime a film can do that, at the very least, I will be a pleased audience member. Aside from Singin' in the Rain clearly influencing The Artist, the film is wonderful in its own right. With some of the most wonderful cinematography I have ever seen, and in glorious technicolor, Singin' in the Rain is a visually stunning masterpiece. I have never seen a better-written musical than Singin' in the Rain. The witty dialogue scattered throughout the film keeps one engaged even when there is no on-screen theatrics filling the screen. Gene Kelly is an actor in which I, like everyone else have heard about endlessly. I had not seen much of Kelly's work, however, with only a couple exceptions and I can promise that will change. His dancing is inspiring and completely captivating. I prefer the graceful flair of Fred Astaire, but Kelly has risen in my book after this film. The chemistry was perfect, the film was beautiful, and it is no wonder why Singin' in the Rain is being brought back for theatre screenings 65 years after its debut.

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