Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain ★★★★½

Movies I’ve Seen at Special Theater Screenings

"She can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat."

Have you ever cried out of happiness? I'm sure many of you have, usually after a major life event or a milestone — the birth of a child, perhaps, a wedding, a graduation. Sure, you cry when you're sad and you sometimes cry out of laughter. The movies have the power to do both to us frequently. But when was the last time you were watching a movie and shed a tear simply because it made you feel great?

That moment came for me during the titular musical number, one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. Folks, this scene is the definition of perfect. It's more than iconic, it's an essential part of the fabric of cinema history. It's a scene you can show to someone of any age, culture or identity and a smile will crawl across their face. Seeing Gene Kelly stroll and stomp and jaunt through the rain, singing his lungs out in a ditty devoted to his happiness after falling in love got the butterflies fluttering in my stomach and tears welling in my eyes. My heart was so full at this scene. The sheer joy and happiness on screen just hit me and for the duration of the scene, nothing else on Earth mattered to me. It's a scene I can watch a million times and it'll still make me feel like it always does: Alive and full of wonder.

If you're not into sentimental reviews of movies, then you've probably long since stopped reading. Singin' in the Rain is one of those classic movies out of old Hollywood that continually puts a big, goofy grin on my face whenever I watch it. It's a happy, peppy, emotional and lush film that is like a masterclass in slapstick comedy and musical precision. It's both a harsh critique of and a love letter to Hollywood and the medium of film. Sure, it's an idealistic and saccharin story at times, but fans of the movie such as I have no time to bother with those who brush this movie off as yet another sweet and sappy Hollywood musical.

It's not just any other musical. This movie is truly a film for all ages, that still delights audiences to this day. I saw evidence of that tonight when I saw this movie in a packed house of people young and old, first-time watchers and die-hard fans. The atmosphere was light, airy and whimsical. The jokes landed. Applause punctuated every musical number. Vibrant color popped off the screen, which displayed a beautiful, 35mm print of this undeniable classic. And the crowd loved every minute of it, a crowd of people in 2015 cheering on a movie made 63 years ago that is simply, purely, entertainment at its very best.

Every musical number, from "Fit as a Fiddle" to "All I Do Is Dream of You" to "You Were Meant For Me" to the delightful group number "Good Morning" and everything in between, this film brims with wonderful songs and awe-inspiring musical numbers. It's Kelly's show and he puts forth one of the best musical performances of all time. He's utterly charming, skilled and funny as the movie star Don Lockwood, trying to navigate the new frontier of talkies as the movie business transitions into such unfamiliar territory. Debbie Reynolds is gorgeous in this movie and such a revelation. Her talent is equal to Kelly's in every way; such an angelic voice, a lovely face and some great dance moves. I forgot how mesmerizing she is on screen. Her performance is perfect and serves as a great female counterpart to Kelly. Donald O'Connor is sort of the comic relief but he gets his moments to shine as well. He's great at slapstick gags, has that trademark rubber face and knack for physical humor that no doubt influenced a generation of comedians. His singing and dancing skills are on-par with the rest of the main cast. The main trio make such a bold and powerful team in this movie as their skills and chemistry simply permeate every aspect of this movie. Jean Hagen is also great as the ditzy Lina Lamont with her high-pitched, whiny voice that makes everything that comes out of her mouth sound funny. She's a main source of comedy throughout the movie and ends up being a villain, someone we love to hate for her phoniness and selfishness. While she doesn't sing and dance, her performance is purely comedic and provides a funny backbone to the film.

This movie is simply one of the best movies about movies that has ever been made. Not many movies examine what life was like for the industry when studios made the move from silents to talkies, and while Singin' in the Rain is a fictitious story and is not meant to educate the audience on that subject, it acts as a parody of celebrity culture and the movie industry while also being a celebration of the power of film and a testament to how far the industry has come. Look at film's humble beginnings in silent movies, with its simple piano score and actors hamming it up. Now, look at the Technicolor masterpiece that Singin' in the Rain is all the way up to the special effects wonders that exist today. It's quite an evolution and this film stands as a tribute and a celebration to the moving image.

The movie, overall, is an enjoyable classic but it's not without some weak points. I didn't enjoy the "Beautiful Girl" song and dance that accompanies the transition to talkies. I thought the lyrics were misogynistic and the number itself stuck out in the film as an extraneous song that didn't tell us much or move the plot along. The "Broadway Melody" scene, while beautiful and sumptuous in its own right, is overlong and has little to do with the overall story. Frankly, it seems out of place in the entire movie since Lockwood is describing it as being in the "modern" portion of The Dancing Cavalier, the movie within the movie, but seems completely out of place in the narrative of said movie. The sequence just seems like an excuse to give Kelly another musical number to showcase his talent which, hey, is great and I love to see Kelly on screen, but I was left scratching my head as to why this long sequence had to be included, especially because it didn't serve the story.

Those are small nits to pick. Singin' in the Rain is a movie full of iconic imagery, wonderful music and bravura performances. It's a look into classic Hollywood and stands as a timeless work of art that I will cherish forever.

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