Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen. Dir: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Seems strange to me that I am recommending this movie, but there are actually people in the world who have not seen it. Too many, though through no fault of their own, I’m sure. I am not going out on any limb by saying that it is the best movie musical of all time. Some might not agree with me, but enough do to make it a reasonable assertion.
Quick plot “summary”: Big 1920’s movie star hates studio-assigned girlfriend, finds one on his own, is friends with a comic genius, talkies occur, things happen.
So let me lay this out for the people who don’t like musicals, because I know you exist. These are probably the least annoying songs of any musical ever made. The title song was a hit from the late 20’s. There are only two sequences I can foresee you not liking- one being the “Gotta Dance” or as I like to call it “The Mandatory 1950’s Dream Sequence”, which lasts a little too long, but if you pay close attention to the incredible dancing or go pour yourself a liquid you should be fine. Incidentally, if you play Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album during this part, it’s pretty cool. The other song that might be annoying is the one where Debbie Reynolds sings “Good Mawnin”. It’s a fun song, it’s just that one word. Mawnin. Other than that you should like the rest of them just fine- especially “Make ‘Em Laugh”. That will be your favorite. And it should be.
It would appear that my M.O. in these things is to list reasons why you should watch based on the actors. I shall not stray from such a winning formula. Here we go…
Gene Kelly. So many things about this man, I am sure that getting them out of order would be an insult to all that he was. Dancing- but it’s not just the dancing, he was the choreographer too. Singing- wonderful, I would know his voice anywhere. Acting- his timing is brilliant, his interpretation is perfect. That face, that smile, those eyes. And hats- I have said for years that nobody can wear a hat like Gene Kelly. Please cover your eyes for the next part: he had the second best male body in Hollywood of all time. Okay, you can look now.
Donald O’Connor. The crazy friend. Nobody would think from his acting that this man could dance just as well, but he could. Amazingly. His athleticism was breathtaking, And he was so funny, one of the top of his class from the (non-existant) School of Facemakers. Check out his mug at the beginning of “Moses Supposes”, Hilarious.
Jean Hagen. She had the best lines in the movie. Whenever I quote it, it’s usually one of hers (truth be told it’s usually the Calvin Coolidge line, and it’s usually the last two words- but I use her voice!). She could be construed as the “villain” in the classical formula that indicates there must be one, but she’s just so much fun. I would give her all the awards.
Debbie Reynolds. The woman has made a career of being the “little spitfire” darling of the movies. This role is no exception, though less is made of her size in this than in others (maybe because Kelly wasn’t exactly tall). She has some great lines as well, particularly in the beginning of the film. She does her part perfectly (except “mawnin’”) and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
Every time I hear that Stanley Donen directed Singin’ in the Rain AND the original Bedazzled with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, I think to myself “WHAT?? That’s some crazy stuff right there!!” and then I reset so that I can say it the next time I hear it. It really makes more sense than my wee brain initially imagines. They are both comedies after all. And they are both brilliant. It’s just that a lot of crazy happened between 1952 and 1967 that these films are so vastly different.
Did you know that every time someone watches this movie a puppy is born? It might be true. I’m not going to do the research though.