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The musical is not the type of film that’s made too often nowadays, and when it is made, it’s usually met with lukewarm reactions. If there was to be some kind of swell in movie musicals, though, Singin’ in the Rain would be the film to look to for points on how to make the musical the right way. The film does everything that a classic Hollywood musical should do and more. There’s splendid set design, effectively upbeat tunes and wonderful direction. Singin’ in the Rain retains all the energy that makes this type of film memorable and never gets lost in showy, grandiose dance numbers (Which were prevalent in that era). That particular aspect might be what impresses me the most about this film. It keeps its head about itself and doesn’t forget that there is a good story at the heart of it. It’s these reasons and others which make Singin’ in the Rain one of the best (If not the best- I don’t think I’ve seen enough musicals to judge) musicals ever made.

The story of Singin’ in the Rain is about Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor)- two silent film actors and a musician struggling to stay relevant at the advent of talking pictures. Along the way, Don meets an “actress” named Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), and after a rocky start, they build a romantic relationship. The film’s ensemble is excellent all the way around. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor have great chemistry, Jean Hagen is hilariously sassy and Debbie Reynolds does a good job playing someone a little beyond the typical love interest type. I appreciate how each character was written to give a certain effect, and no one ever went past their degree of usefulness. For instance, O’Connor plays a quick-witted sidekick to Kelly’s Don Lockwood. Had he been inserted into more scenes, making more wisecracks, his shtick would’ve gotten old very quickly and he would’ve become more loathsome than lovable. The same goes for Hagen’s character who is humorously annoying, but not so annoying that she takes over and ruins an entire scene, which could’ve easily happened had the script been mishandled- which, thankfully, it isn’t.

The star of the picture, though, is the music. The numbers in this are absolutely fantastic. Not one of them, however is overdone or bigger than it needs to be. Many well-written songs are sprinkled throughout the film to emphasize the sentiments of a scene or to draw attention to the direction that the story is moving in. I think the most perfectly executed song-and-dance sequence in the whole film is the “Broadway Melody” scene. Gene Kelly’s scene for which the film is named is wonderful and iconic, but it doesn’t grab me quite like this one does. It’s dazzling, but not over-the-top. It’s cheerful, but not in your face. And it’s very creative and well-paced. The sequence didn’t have to be there, though. It could have easily been struck from the film and the completed transformation of “The Dueling Cavalier” could’ve been explained in a very short scene. Instead, Directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly decided to go for it and create what is in my mind to be the greatest musical piece of Singin’ in the Rain. It’s the only time that I think of in which they stray temporarily from the main story, but I think the filmmakers earned that liberty and they pull off the scene beautifully.

Ultimately, Singin’ in the Rain is about finding happiness when times are rough, and discovering the joys of life when up against daunting odds. It’s also a lovely tribute to the era it’s portraying- demonstrating the triumphs and the quirks of films from that time. Everything about it is sharply executed. From the striking dances to the funny dialogue, no room is left for excess and in its 103-minute runtime, the film manages to tell an endearing story that continues to inspire and capture the imagination of audiences today, all while subtly injecting a bit of nostalgia into our hearts.
5 out of 5 stars



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lovebug1219 said...
Apr. 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

I agree with this review 100%. Singin' in the Rain is a wonderful movie and people do not give it any credit. I grew up  on what my parents grew up on. Thigs like this are wonderful. The only piece of critisizm I will give is that it was very long. In my opinion a review should be short and too the point withought giving too much detail witht the hook in the very beginning. You should give them just a taste of the wonderful things to come if they watch the movie without telling them what... (more »)

 
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