Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Romance on the Silver Screen: Singin' in the Rain



Today, I'm talking about a movie that offers double the fun: It's a classic romance and a musical! It's hard to argue with the proposition that Singin' in the Rain is the best movie musical ever made. MGM produced such greats as An American in Paris, Easter Parade, On the Town, and Meet Me in St. Louis, yet for most fans and critics, Singin' in the Rain towers above them all? Why?
For many reasons. The cast is delightful, with Gene Kelly as the hero, Debbie Reynolds as the innocent heroine, Donald O'Connor as the comic sidekick, and the incomparable Jean Hagen as the ditzy, manipulative blonde villainess. Unlike many musicals, which string together musical numbers with a whisper-thin plot, Singin' in the Rain has a brilliant satirical script and interesting story that would work just fine without the songs. With the song and dance numbers, however, the movie is elevated to greatness.
The story tells the tale of Don Lockwood (Kelly), a former vaudevillian who used to tread the boards with Donald O'Connor, his best friend. Lockwood has now found success as a romantic leading man of silent melodramas, with Lina Lamont (Hagen) as his love interest in all the films. But with the advent of talking pictures, Lockwood and Lamont need to change with the times. They have just one problem: Lina's horrible, grating voice. If Lina were a woman you could reason with, this would be no problem. But she's convinced her thick Jersey accent and nasal tones are just fine for not only a talking picture, but a musical!
When vocal lessons fail to fix the problem, Don Lockwood, his buddy Cosmo Brown (O'Connor), and beautiful young ingenue Kathy Selden (Debby Reynolds) cook up a scheme to have Kathy's voice dubbed for Lina. The whole situation gets very complicated with Kathy wants to pursue her own singing career but Lina won't let her stop dubbing for their very profitable musical films.
The plot is simple, but the characters priceless. Donald O'Connor's dance moves go beyond the ordinary to become acrobatic, especially in the "Make 'em Laugh" sequence. Kelly's own dancing makes the impossible look easy. Hagen is a delightfully stupid and selfish villainess we love to hate. But most of all, the romance between Kelly and Reynolds sparkles. Who can forget the joy on Gene Kelly's face in the legendary "Singin' in the Rain" dance sequence, where he splashing in puddles and dances in a downpour to celebrate when he discovers that the woman he loves, loves him in return? I certainly can't.
If you haven't seen this legendary scene before, check it out now.
And as usual, you can rent this movie from Netflix.

2 comments:

Tony-Paul said...

This is my favorite musical and I love the "rain dance" sequence. I understand there was a stage musical made of it. Wish I could've seen how they managed the rain number. I liked it so well, I duplicated it in my vampire novel Shadows when the vampiric hero reveals his love for the heroine during a London thunderstorm. Another Gene Kelly movie I like is the Three Musketeers where he played D'Artagnan.

Linda Morris, Romance writer said...

Thanks for your comment! Interesting, I've never seen the Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly, although I love "The Pirate" with Judy Garland and him. That "Nina" song gets in my head.

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