It has long been thought that the musical era was born out of pure enthusiasm over the ability to put sound on film. And while the case holds water, it is not entirely correct. As `Singin' In the Rain,' so eloquently shows; comedy, charm, music, and dance can all be featured successfully within one film.
`Singin In the Rain,' is also generally known as the greatest musical of all time. Roger Ebert, the late Gene Siskel, Leonard Maltin, and many other prominent critics agree with that opinion. The plot was born from a song and used others that had been around for many years, ever since `the talkies' were born in the late 20s. The screenplay was written according to the songs. Although the cast had been cast, and re-cast several times; the end result was one of perfect chemistry. The combination of the ever-so talented Gene Kelly (arguably 1 of the 2 best film dancers ever) and Debbie Reynolds worked very well, despite complications that arose off the set. And Donald O'Connor was born for his role as Cosmo Brown, the best buddy to Kelly's Don Lockwood. His wit keeps the film fresh and funny. If you took a drink for every smart remark he made, you'd be drunk, before Lockwood gets the girl!
All the characters in this film are dynamic, save Cosmo Brown and Lena Lamont (played by Jean Hagen). This was perfect for what was called for, for this film to succeed. This helps the film `move,' where other musicals fail. This is where the irony enters; since this film was written in reverse of this philosophy. Being able to incorporate quality songs into a quality storyline is a skill no studio has ever mastered, even to this day. Even, MGM, which was known as `the king of the musicals', failed more often than it succeeded. To this day, no one has mastered it; although Disney has almost reached MGM proportions with its animation department.
As the film opens, the premiere for one of the famed `Lockwood/Lamont' films is taking place for `The Royal Rascal.' As the stars arrive, one by one, Cosmo Brown arrives. A bit later Lockwood and Lamont arrive. Lockwood tells a `story' of how he and Cosmo get to stardom. To celebrate the release, there is a party at the studio's producer's house. But to get there, Lockwood must go by a different rout than everyone else, finding Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) in the process. After a few cute surprises and accidents, Don gets a conscience attack. After finally finding her, he realizes that he cares for her. Meanwhile, Cosmo Brown keeps up his antics and funny nature. The comic relief is never amiss in this film. Lamont soon learns of the romance and is up to something, but what? What do you think she is, `.dumb or something?'
The co-director (also co-directed by Gene Kelly) Stanley Donen called the `Moses Supposes' dance sequence with Kelly and O'Connor, the best dance sequence ever. I agree that it is in the Top 3, but not the best, that's in another film; which Donen directed, for another review. All numbers in this film are memorable, where most from other films are not.
There is only one detraction in this film. It is the `Broadway Melody' sequence. It begins with another interesting and amusing song and dance number by Mr. Lockwood, trying to convince his producer of something. But the scene becomes too long and unnecessary. Cyd Charisse is an amazing talent, but the dance number she has in the film, should have been deleted. It is mesmerizing, but is out of place in this film. This 13 minute sequence should have ended at about 7-8 max. Still, this detail is so minute, that it isn't a bad detraction. When this film was released in 1952, it opened to luke-warm reviews and average box office receipts. It wasn't until it's `10th Anniversary,' that people began to notice that `Singin' In the Rain' was special and has been known as such ever since. The AFI, when it released it's list of `The 100 Greatest Films Ever,' ranked this film No.10, to put it at the highest mark for a musical of any era and place Ms. Debbie Reynolds as half of the only mother/daughter combination on the list*. `Singin' In the Rain,' is always fun to watch, the film has also been recently released on DVD with tons of extras. As enduring as Mr. Kelly's lamppost lean is, so this film echoes Mr. Lockwood's sentiments of nothing; nothing but pure joy that is.
Personal Rating: 99 on a 100 point scale
*Note-Ms. Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher appeared in AFI's No. 15 film, `Star Wars.'