Dwilder’s review published on Letterboxd:
Possibly the greatest Hollywood musical of all time Singin’ in the Rain is a real joy to behold from start to finish.
Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green the plot of Singin’ in the Rain is a good deal more complex than that of many musicals at the time due to its focus on the Hollywood industry and its difficult transition in the late 1920’s from Silent pictures to sound. This however is what makes it so great as it ingeniously and fondly reminisces about the mistakes made in these early days as cinema was coming to terms with this strange new medium. The affection the writers clearly have for this period in Hollywood history is infectious and ensures their mocking of these early mishaps is always warm and gentle and indeed as an audience it makes us really feel connected to the process of film-making as we identify with the struggles of these creatives far more than we ordinarily would.
From a Director’s perspective the work of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen here is quite fabulous. The entire feature gorgeously uses colour in a way which really excites the viewer and the whole production looks vivid and sharp. The set design is also amongst the best I’ve ever seen in Western Cinema as the 1920’s are wonderfully brought to life in pretty much the most stunning fashion imaginable. The musical numbers and dance set-pieces it must be said are amongst the greatest ever seen and are directed with such panache and enthusiasm that they totally convince and enthral. The film itself focuses on mistakes and struggles but what’s so remarkable is that this picture is so crisp and seemingly effortless and this is testament to the genius of Kelly and Donen as despite teaching us how difficult filmmaking is they manage to make it look pretty easy here and this is a true skill.
Gene Kelly as star of Singin’ in the Rain is simply incredible with his winning portrayal and overall sense of glee utterly charming. It’s easy to see why he was one of the most popular entertainers of his day as everything he does here is done with perfectly choreographed style. Not only was he talented musically but he turns in a performance of real quality as well proving he was a very strong actor in his own right as well. There is also sterling support here from the marvellous Debbie Reynolds, the great Donald O’Connor and in her best role the scene stealing Jean Hagen (who was shockingly deprived of an Oscar for her tremendous work here.) the entire ensemble it has to be said are nothing short of amazing throughout this feature.
To conclude Singin’ in the Rain is one of cinema’s all time great musicals and it is testament to the genius of Kelly, Donen, Comden and Green as they have together here created one of the most effortless, joyous and most importantly fun musical experiences ever committed to celluloid. A must see!