29 August 2005 | drednm
It Ain't Been in Vain for Nothing
Singin' in the Rain is one of the best movies ever made. The film is beautiful, tuneful, and loads of fun. While it pokes fun at Hollywood it also does so with great love. Little bits and pieces of Hollywood lore find their way into this great film and it's a pleasure to get the joke or recognize the real star they're referring to.
The star trio is just perfect: Gene Kelly give a funny performance as the hammy silent actor; Donald O'Connor makes the most of his "second banana" role; Debbie Reynolds is perfect as the ingénue trying to break into films.
The three stars perform many memorable numbers, including Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" classic; all three in the "Good Mornin'" number; O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh"; and Kelly and Reynolds in "You Were Meant for Me." The masterpiece however may be the "Gotta Dance" production number with Kelly and Cyd Charissejust perfect. Also great fun are O'Connor and Kelly in "Fit as a Fiddle" and "Moses Supposes."
There are of course other production numbers, including the montage that shows Hollywood's race to transition to talkies, a scene that ends in the "Beautiful Girl" number featuring Jimmy Thompson.
Jean Hagen (as Lina Lamont) won an Oscar nomination and steals the film in a classic comedy performance. Also good are Millard Mitchell, Douglas Fowley, Rita Moreno, King Donovan, Kathleen Freeman, Mae Clarke, Julius Tannen, and Madge Blake.
The great trick to this film is that while Reynolds is supposedly "lip syncing" for Hagen, it's really Hagen's voice that Reynolds is miming to as in the "I Would, Would You" number. The final miming act is Hagen mouthing "Singin' in the Rain" is really Reynolds. It gets so confusing you can't tell who is lip syncing whose voice.
Lots of Hollywood lore retold in this film. Hagen's Lamont character is a veiled reference to Norma Talmadge, who supposedly failed in talkies because of her New York accent. It's also a reference to Louise Brooks, whose talkie debut in The Canary Murder Case was all dubbed. When Kelly screams "I LOVE YOU" it's a reference to John Gilbert in is talkie debut flop. His Glorious Night. Kathleen Freeman's diction coach character is a reference to Constance Collier, who returned to Hollywood as a coach. And on it goes.
A great film!