Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain ★★★★½

Singin' in the Rain is the happiest film ever made; a kaleidoscopic film about film featuring some incredibly choreographed dance sequences and some of the most famous songs in cinema. Gene Kelly is Don Lockwood, a silent film star stuck in a manufactured relationship with his leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), a horribly voiced, unbearable woman who Don would love to just get away from. His new silent film The Duelling Cavalier is found to be in danger when The Jazz Singer debuts and brings the talkie roaring into the world. Alongside his friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) and aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), they aim to turn this potential failure into a musical extravaganza.

Hagen is an absolute force of nature as Lina; a woman whose career appears to be doomed with the advent of the talkie due to her voice. Her back and forths with Kelly and the way she terrorises him are always supremely entertaining. The first time we see her with Kelly she dismisses him as he is a stuntman, then immediately becomes interested when he is promoted to lead actor. That says it all about her personality. And not only is her voice terrible, but she appears completely oblivious to it, and to her colleagues' blatant attempts to prevent her from speaking publicly. I wonder how many silent stars in real life had their careers end prematurely when talkies took over. There's gotta be some actual precedent for this.

It's definitely bittersweet watching Debbie Reynolds here, only days after her death. She's so young and fresh faced, and is also fantastic in a more grounded role than Hagen's. Everyone in this movie is on their absolute A-game. They are all magnificent.

Also, this film just looks great. The technicolor is warm and vibrant, and it's pièce de resistance is the Broadway Melody sequence; a 10+ minute musical number featuring Cyd Charisse (!) in an elaborately staged fantasy sequence that puts all the others to shame. I don't know how directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly put it together but it's pretty remarkable.

Films about films are some of my favourite films and this film about film is a wonderful film.

As an aside to this review, allow me to be self indulgent for a moment. This is my last film for 2016, and a highly appropriate one at that: a film about film. I managed to succeed in my goal of watching at least one film every day this year; a goal I've set numerous times but it's the first time I've pulled it off. In fact I more than surpassed it having watched 1,575 different films in 2016 at an average of more than four a day. Am I insane? Yes. It's not something I would recommend even for the most ardent of film nerds, but I had nothing better to do. I'm going to aim to watch at least a film a day for 2017 as well, but I'm definitely going to cut down from that four a day average. I'll aim for a modest 500 films watched in 2017 I reckon.

Anyway, it's been another extremely enjoyable year at Letterboxd during which I have encountered lots of great reviewers and fellow film geeks whose reviews I read every day. Letterboxd is always the first site I visit in the morning and it's consistently a joy. Thanks to everybody that posts these great reviews, and also thanks to everybody that has personally interacted with me and has been reading my haphazard nonsense. It's so much fun and I am incredibly excited to see where our film journeys lead us in 2017. Cinema is awesome.

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