Singin’ in the Rain Review


When I watched My Fair Lady for the first time a few weeks ago, I was forced to ask myself a difficult question: “Is this film better than Singin’ in the Rain?” For as long as I’ve been watching movies, I’ve adored Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s musical send-up of the silent era, but George Cukor’s film gave this one a run for its money. Ultimately, it’s somewhat irrelevant to rank the two, as they are both shining examples of the movie musical. Donen and Kelly’s film flawlessly balances its music with comedy and romance, and its leads are irresistibly fun to watch. I dare you to turn this on and not smile.

Singin’ in the Rain takes us to Hollywood in the 1920s, when Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the two biggest stars on the silver screen. Their pictures are silent and incredibly romantic, and in order to sell tickets, studio head honcho R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell) has Don and Lina pose as a couple off-screen. Don and his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) don’t care much for Lina, her ditzy personality, or her grating voice, and when Don falls for a sassy aspiring actress, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), his relationship with Lina becomes even more strained. And when their star power is put to the test when sound is introduced in the movies, Don must concoct a plan to save their newest picture, The Dueling Cavalier.

As much as Singin’ in the Rain is a musical, it’s also a comedy. The Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen characters are on hand simply for comic relief (and boy do they succeed at it), and there are a few sequences near the film’s midway point that are laugh-out-loud funny, even all these years later. And when it comes to romance, Singin’ in the Rain is as charming as any film romance from its time period. Kelly and Reynolds share incredible chemistry, and the film’s wonderfully written lyrics make us care about their connection.

Perhaps even better than the songs themselves is Kelly’s exceptional choreography. Numbers like “Good Morning” and the timeless “Singin’ in the Rain”, as well as the gorgeous 14-minute Technicolor dream sequence, “Broadway Melody”, are unforgettable, and the way the performers move makes these sequences so special.

All four principal roles are perfectly cast. Kelly, of course, was one of the biggest stars of the time period. His smile is blinding, and his moves and voice are dazzling. Donald O’Connor is one of the few actors skilled enough to keep up with Kelly on the dance floor, and he has the comedic chops to make his sidekick character stand out. Trying to keep track of how often Debbie Reynolds actually sings is an exhaustive measure, but she, like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, has the perfect personality for the part and shouldn’t be dismissed just because she doesn’t sing every song. Then there’s Jean Hagen, who is there just to generate laughter—something she does with ease.

So if you’re looking for a film to lift your spirits, something that’s guaranteed to make you laugh (make you laugh, make you LAAUUUGH!), Singin’ in the Rain is perhaps unmatched in film history. It’s so enduring for a reason—it’s song-and-dance numbers and clever form of comedy are the very definition of crowd-pleasing.

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