Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain ★★★★★

Possibly the most infectious burst of sheer joy produced in the classic Hollywood era, maybe the best musical of said era, Gene Kelly's crowning achievement, the reason that the musical film format was invented and maybe the most exuberant celebration of Hollywood ever created. 70 years after its debut, "Singin' in the Rain" hasn't lost an ounce of its exuberance or charm or heart or delirious entertainment value.

The plot is almost inconsequential, really, but if you must know this movie revolves around Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) a movie star who rose up through the ranks doing odd jobs and dangerous stunts (there are a couple of swell montages cataloguing these periods in his life) to become a celebrated leading man. His successes have come from being partnered up with a curvaceous blonde named Lina Lamont (a totally underrated Jean Hagen, who is the funniest person in the movie aside from Donald O'Connor) with whom he has great onscreen chemistry but whom he cannot stand in reality. Lina lingers unders the delusion that she and Don are destined to be married (just like all of the fan magazines claim) but Don has just met and become infatuated with a young dancer named Kathy Selden (a luminously wholesome Debbie Reynolds).

All of this is complicated enough, but then things get even more complex when the arrival of Sound to film changes the ways that movies are made and puts the latest Lockwood & Lamont picture into jeopardy when it turns out that Lina's voice could make people sterile (not literally...I don't think). So Don has to figure out a way to salvage this picture with the help of Kathy and his friend Cosmo (the amazing Donald O'Connor).

Visually, "Singin' in the Rain" is pure Technicolor eye candy of the highest caliber. It is stunning to behold. Aside from the gorgeous, eye-popping colors that make its frequent montages positively intoxicating, we have Gene Kelly's astounding dance moves and choreography which is perhaps the best that the silver screen has ever produced. Kelly is ecstatic and passionate and this enthusiasm and talent is absolutely infectious. Watching him sing and dance is a therapeutic experience. It'll definitely cure whatever ails you. Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor are also terrific in the frequent and magnificent musical numbers. It's hard to believe that Reynolds learned to dance after being hired for this film because she's fantastic. As for O'Connor, as good as Kelly is (and he's the best, I've always preferred him to Fred Astaire...or any other onscreen dancer, to be honest) O'Connor gives him a run for his money. O'Connor's justifiably lauded "Make 'em Laugh" sequence is an all-time, number-one stunner that's possibly the highlight of the entire film.

But, hell, the whole movie is composed of highlights. There isn't a dull moment, or one that doesn't make me feel like I'm levitating with pure glee as I sit on my couch being enveloped by all of this unadulterated joy. Movies simply don't get any more delightful, fun or ravishing than this one. Hagen and O'Connor are hilarious. Kelly makes an all-singing, all-dancing argument for the Art of Dance. I used to think that the "Broadway Melody" finale didn't quite jibe with the rest of the film and that it was just Kelly showing off. I still kind of think that it's just Kelly showing off but, Jesus Christ, Gene Kelly Showing Off is one of the finest things one can witness so I no longer have a problem with it. The story is terrific and engaging and it presents Classic Hollywood as a magical wonderland where Dreams come true with such charm and effortless artistry that it's thoroughly convincing for the ninety-odd minutes that this is passing in front of my eyes. It's a fascinating, fantastical chronicle of the transition from Silent to Sound in the movie industry and also the best goddamn movie musical ever made. Every song is wonderful. Every dance sequence is awe-inspiring. Every actor is at the top of their game and as good as humanly possible at doing what they're doing.

If you hate Joy, avoid this movie at all costs.

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