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Monthly Film Series – Singin’ in the Rain
April 27, 2019 @ 6:45 pm - 9:30 pm
This writeup is excerpted from a review by Stephen Greydanus who blogs at Decent Films: http://decentfilms.com/reviews/mission.
Singin’ in the Rain (Rated G) is quite simply the greatest musical of all time, and more: it transcends its genre, becoming one of the most joyous, delightful, satisfying, feel-good motion picture experiences ever, richly deserving its #10 spot on the American Film Institute list of 100 greatest films. Bottom line: If you like movies, Singin’ in the Rain is for you.
What makes this movie work so well is a magical combination of factors that Hollywood never managed to bring together again in any other musical. First of all, its song-and-dance numbers are worked with some plausibility into the story, which is entertaining enough to be worth watching for its own sake, even if there were no singing or dancing. And yet it’s full of such joy that it demands singing and dancing; the musical elements aren’t just tacked on. The characters are vivid and delightful, and the romance that develops (amid much bantering and posturing) between Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is completely engaging. Donald O’Connor could have kept up with the Marx Brothers as wacky Cosmo Brown, one of the all-time great supporting characters; and Jean Hagen is deliciously dim-witted and self-absorbed as an actress named Lina Lamont who’s got a great voice for silent film.
The sheer energy of these performances — Kelly climbing onto the roof of a trolley car before leaping off into a convertible; the leading trio simultaneously walking across a couch and tipping it onto its back; O’Connor running up a wall and flipping over backwards — is incredible.
The images of this period preserved in this film are priceless. It’s hard to believe, now, that anyone ever imagined that “talkies” were a passing fad; that it took the success of The Jazz Singer (which was scarcely a “talkie” at all) to convince Hollywood otherwise. Meanwhile, silent stars whose popularity had given them enormous power were suddenly vulnerable to the studios’ new weapon: the all-important sound test.
Singin’ in the Rain captures all this in a comedic, satirical tale that’s a joy to watch. Story, characters, setting, comedy, romance, conflicts, solutions, just desserts, and, yes, singing and dancing — somehow it all comes together here like nowhere else. “What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again,” Kelly sings. You’ll feel the same way; and you just might find yourself singing too.