Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I like to sing in the rain too!

One of my favorite films of the semester has to be Singing in the Rain. It was between this film and Some Like It Hot, but seeing as there are two other posts already about the latter, I chose to embrace my love to sing (and dance, of course) in the rain.

Singing In The Rain is considered by many to be a true classic of American cinema. In fact, Time Magazine listed it as one of the top 100 films of all time. The Freed Unit at MGM created many great films, however I believe that this film is their most remarkable. It combined all the important elements of a successful film musical: incredible songs, amazing choreography, and a hilarious story line. Before I had seen the film, I always wondered how silent film stars were able to acclimate to talking pictures. Silent acting is entirely different, based of exaggerated facial expressions and body movements. On the contrary, acting in talking pictures involves much more true to life character representation in both physical form and dialogue. As we see in Singing in the Rain, actors and actresses may not have ideal voices for talking pictures. In this sense, the film is a funny commentary on the industry's adaptation of talking picture technology.

Along with great song and dance, the cast is phenomenal. Gene Kelly, in particular, was a truly remarkable performer. I was shocked to read on Filmreference.com that he was not originally chosen for the part. The role of Don Lockwood was intended for Howard Keel. As the script continued to develop, Don Lockwood's character became less Western, and more Vaudeville, so Howard Keel was replaced with Gene Kelly. It is odd to think of Keel playing the role of Don Lockwood; it certainly would not have had the same style.

Debbie Reynolds had no prior dance experience before starring in the film. She did, however, have a background as a gymnast which I am sure gave her a bit of an advantage. It is hard to think of the seemingly charming Gene Kelly as being a bully, but apparently he insulted Debbie for her lack of experience and made her cry.

Donald O'Connor is an integral component of the triumphant trio. He is sort of the comic relief in the film, and he is very effective in this role. The routine of "Make 'Em Laugh" is particularly memorable and contains a lot of elements of slapstick humor.

All the elements of the film - the elaborate sets, the witty dialogue, the costumes, Lina Lamont's voice, the songs, the dances - work together to form one of the greatest American film musicals.

Believe it or not, but I am not the only one who feels this way. In 1998, the American Film Institute rated Singing in the Rain as the number 10 top film of all time in their production "100 Years, 100 Movies." Check out the whole list here. It was also added to the Library of Congress film archive in 1989 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Test your knowledge of the film by taking this quiz.

And now, for your enjoyment, the infamous scene!

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