Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain ★★★★½

Decades on and Singin' in the Rain remains the gold standard for films about Hollywood. Every moment of this glorious musical is infused with adoration for the art of movie-making, celebrating and poking fun at the industry's past and present. Donen and Kelly take so much pleasure in pure entertainment, the joy the movies bring, the technical innovations that made it all happen. The film itself isn't the most revolutionary musical. It sticks to the well-worn tropes of the time, treading warm, familiar ground. Yet its story is so infectiously enjoyable, and those tropes are executed near perfectly every time. It's an absolute pleasure to sit through every time - few runtimes fly by as quickly as this.

For that, the cast deserve recognition, none more so than Gene Kelly. His expressive face lights up the screen, through every soaring high and sombre low. He totally convinces as a Fairbanks-like star, as dashing and charming as the rogues he plays on screen. And his dancing was never better. Whether solo or alongside Donald O'Connor, his best on-screen partner, Kelly dances his most iconic routines with passion and precision. O'Connor warrants considerable praise for his efforts too. He's able to keep up with Kelly beat-for-beat, and lives up to his word with 'Make 'Em Laugh'. And besides, his performance is just brilliant anyway. He's the ultimate comedic side-kick, frequently coming in and completely hijacking a scene, taking most of the good lines and all the best gags. Honestly, he deserves an Oscar, this is the type of performance Best Supporting Actor was made for. He and Kelly also mark one of the earliest on-screen bromances.

Debbie Reynolds is easily charming as the plucky dancer who catches Kelly's eye, and Jean Hagen's hilarious turn as the irritating villain of the whole thing is another highlight. Their chemistry together is effortless, so it doesn't feel at all jarring when the tone shifts, and the relentless comedy is paused for a moment of tender romance. Few films come together this smoothly, let alone with as much energy and excitement. It's a short list of musicals that can compete with this all-timer.

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