jackson's Review of Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain(1952)
If you were situated within a position to describe "Singin' in the Rain" as minimalistic as possible, your answer would consist of the various adjectives: Magical, Spell-bounding, Elegant and Graceful. The reason for such a answer is due to the the glowing flamboyance and exhilarating energy that is on display; an essential entity that use to be within the Hollywood classics but is evidently lost within the majority of modern movies. Co-directed by Stanley Doden and the wondrous/hypnotizing dance choreographer Gene Kelly, "Singin' in the Rain" was a towering success on its release; a musical that functioned as the epitome at displaying an accumulation of essential elements of the mass audiences most cherished aspects; ranging from laughter, emotions, musical numbers with the accompany of a number of extravagant dance sequences that evoked a level of Chaplin's spellbinding comic efforts. Judging from these various elements, it's obvious why the film is considered a masterpiece within the musical genre: a monumental example of the organic nature that the musical displays; characters continually and beautiful expressing their emotions through the notions of singing and dancing with such energetic movements that it's quite impossible not to watch without having a big goofy smile on your face. Furthermore, it's not only considered a masterpiece within the musical genre, but rather in the broader context of the cinematic universe. With a current 10* ranking on the AFI list 100 years....100 movies, and while there are the minority - thank god only the minority - that question why does a musical hold such towering status against the likes of "Citizen Kane" or "Vertigo." Well, yes it doesn't consist of such lofty thematics as the previous mentioned masterpieces, but it does contain an entity that many, many films lack: Fun.
The story follows Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Cosmo Brown (O'Connor) rise to fame in Hollywood. They begin their careers together through performing duet musical numbers. After numerous attempts, Lockwood finally finds his big break as a stuntman (through a number of hilarious sequences). Eventually, Lockwood becomes a star along with Cosmo and the pretentious Lina Lamont (Hagen). However, trouble strikes as motion pictures begin to transits from silent films to the era of the 'talkies.' While struggling with such changes, Lockwood finds solace and love within Kathy Selden (Reynolds).
"Singin' in the Rain" offers a lighthearted portrait of Hollywood within the 1927's. Riddled with humorous tongue-and-cheek against a slight satirizing innuendo towards the artificial and superficiality nature that surrounds the Hollywood Star (don't worry we don't go into Sunset Boulevard territory, but it does draw parallels). Nevertheless, Tinsel town depiction is simply mesmerizing. The wondrous town contains flamboyance with the accompany of some truly spontaneous characters that makes for a beautiful journey, and while the journey is pure escapism, it's an invitation that's impossible to neglect.
No matter how idealistic Lockwood's life may seem, he cannot tolerate the relations he shares with the superficial, but the undeniably hilarious Lamont - their 'love' or 'relations' simply function as a community for the tabloids. After the premiere of Lockwood's most recent film - with the accompany of Lamont's irritating nature and his vexatious fans - the perplexed star looks for a place of solace. Exasperated, Lockwood comfortable and spontaneous hops, climbs and scatters over the various moving vehicles that eventuate within him meeting the love interest, Kathy (Reynolds.)
The choice of Debbie Reynolds as the femininity lead contains quite the peculiar history. Initially a gymnast before a genuine dancer (let alone an actor), Reynolds time behind production was a sense of hard-ship to say the least. Initially mocked by Kelly himself for her lack of dancing experience, and suffered to point of crying; studio worker Fred Astaire would eventually agree to help Reynolds against her subordinate methods. In later years, Reynolds would comment that "Singin' in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life." Surprisingly, - with all hiccups aside - Reynolds' performance as the emerging star is manifested with glowing elegancy and grace. From her beautiful smile to her illuminating eyes, Reynolds evokes a sense of beauty that parallels with likes of other 50's star Grace Kelly. Additionally, O'Connor's dancing ability and comic genius is simply astonishing. For instance, his musical number "Make 'Em Laugh" culminates in a numerous set of impressive back-flips of the bare walls without the use of wires - now that's talent folks. A sequence that contains (as do many more) a sense of dextrous ability and flamboyant energy that is unsurpassed within the musical genre.
As Lockwood's successes continue, the inevitable occurs, the introduction of the 'Talkie.' With "The Jazz Singer" popular success, R.F Simpson's (Mitchell) studio is sent into a frenzy, urgently pursuing Lockwood's next film to be a 'Talkie.' As previously stated, the film does display parallels with Wilder's masterpiece 'Sunset Boulevard.' However, rather than displaying the transition of the silents to the talkies in melancholic fashion, Kelly and the crew exploit the difficulties for some of their most hilarious gags. Such gags include the frustrated Roscoe Dexter (Fowley) hilarious attempts at capturing Lamont's voice into the microphone, the switching of Lamont's and the antagonist aural presentation at the films premiere, and Lamont's ridiculous pronunciation - "Can'ttttttt."
Furthermore, despite the obvious illumination to the difficulties that film-makers sustained during this grandeur transition, "Singing in the Rain" evidently wants to display the magical commodities that Hollywood offers. Through a brilliant sequence, Kelly displays Tinsel towns magical, dextrous and fantastical ability: using various stage props, Kelly creates an idealistic landscape to overt his love to Kathy. It's an enchantingly sequence that evokes the artificial escapism that celluloid craftsmanship can offer.
And of course there is Gene Kelly. Man, what a performance and what a Icon. His two most memorable dance numbers are an entity to behold: the iconic sequence of Kelly striding through the drowned streets with the accompany of the encapsulating tune "Singin' in the Rain," while Kelly dances, jumps and splashes in one exhilarating and perpetual momentum (with minimal use of editing, but rather tracking shots). A beautiful sequence that captures the essential nature and purpose of the film: delectation. Secondly, "Broadway Melody Ballet" is another sequence that consist of Kelly exuberantly dancing through a 'visualized' dream sequence (which contains loads of extras). Simultaneously a passage that displays Kelly's dextrous ability while providing some truly enchantingly visual imagery, e.g, the moments when Kelly is dancing with a sense grace through the thin, but evidently elegant clothing material. Truly magical.
Ironically, after finishing my first viewing of "Singin' in the Rain," it concluded on a melancholic note (not the actual film but rather a subjective emotion), as there simply isn't a sense of energy and flamboyance like this founded within modern films; I do realize that there is still modern musicals being made, but simply none compare to this, and that is why this film will remain an encapsulating masterpiece. It contains such exuberance, heart, emotion and laughter, that it will never fail to put a smile on your face.