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on August 27, 2003
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is one of my favorite movie musicals, if not my favorite. The screenplay, by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is laugh-out-loud funny and unlikely ever to seem dated; the score is tuneful; the dancing is superb (of course -- it's got Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds!); every number has terrific energy. Kelly, cast against type as the ham actor Don Lockwood, gives a charming and memorable performance, not least in the famous title number, an immortal moment in Hollywood musicals. Donald O'Connor is hilarious, especially in "Make 'Em Laugh," which must be one of the funniest numbers ever filmed. Debbie Reynolds is adorable and makes a fine dancing partner for the great Kelly, and Jean Hagen is perfect as the proverbial silent film actress with the dreadful speaking voice. One of my favorite scenes is the one in which the hysterically frustrated director keeps telling Lina (Hagen) to "speak into the mike." It's priceless comedy. The parodies of early talking pictures in this movie (like the out-of-sync dubbing in "The Duelling Cavalier") are masterfully done. As a satire on the era that saw the transition from silent films to "talkies", and as a joyous song and dance entertainment, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is a great, great movie. You absolutely must see it.
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For reasons too numerous to mention, this is my favorite musical comedy. Miraculously, it seems fresher and more entertaining each time I see it. Over time, it has developed what I guess could be called a cult following and then as it began to appear on television, in HVS and then in DVD formats, it was widely recognized as a great film. Indeed, it is ranked #10 among 100 on the list of the American Film Institute's "America's Greatest Movies." Only rarely has "Hollywood" felt secure enough to make fun of itself; especially to spoof its own difficult transition from silent to "talking" films. That is precisely what this film does with exceptional style, grace, wit, and energy.
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are matinee idols who appear in silent films produced by a studio headed by R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell). I think Hagen's hilarious portrayal of her is the equal of Judy Holliday's best work. Here in Texas, we would say that Lina is dumber than 100 chickens. Lockwood endures her in public while doing all he can to avoid her in private. Unexpectedly, he meets and falls in love with an aspiring young singer and dancer, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Kathy eventually provides the voice Lina needs when appearing in sound movies. Don's best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), is involved in all this delightful silliness, at one point providing a brilliant solo performance of "Make 'Em Laugh." This film is much too good-natured to be considered satire. There isn't a mean bone in the body of the film. Each member of the supporting cast is superb, notably Mitchell and Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, director of the Lockwood-Lamont films. Stanley Donen and Kelly are identified as co-directors. Betty Compden and Adolph Green co-wrote the sparkling script and also contributed songs to the musical score as did Fred Brown, Roger Edens, Nacio Herb Brown, and Hoffman. I cannot think of another film which combines both music and comedy as effectively. An American in Paris and Chicago are also among my favorites but neither is as cohesive (I am tempted to say seamless) as is this glorious entertainment. You can thus understand why I am so pleased that the "Special Edition" has such a wealth of supplementary materials such as a Commentary in which Reynolds, O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Donen, Comden and Green, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, and author/film historian Rudy Behlmer participate; "What a Glorious Feeling": a new 30-minute documentary about the making and impact of Singin' in the Rain: and "Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM," a 96-minute documentary about the career of producer-songwriter Arthur Freed. Treasures all!
For whatever reasons, Singin' in the Rain was nominated for only two Academy Awards and received neither. That's ridiculous. I wish it had been possible for this cast and crew to do another musical comedy together, this time focusing on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In that event, who would have been cryin' in the rain?
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on June 26, 2003
I am obsessed with old movies, finding that the quality of acting in them far surpasses the quality of acting today. No words can really describe the power and magnitude of this film on both myself and the world. This is not only the greatest musical ever made but also is the greatest film ever made. It has an incredible story, fabulous music, out of this world dancing (eat your heart out Fred Astaire), and most importantly a cast that can never be topped. Gene Kelly was magnificint but Donald O'Connor, I feel steals the movie. His quick wit,comedic timing and incredible dancing skills make him my all time favorite (and most underated) actor of all time. Debbie Reynolds also gives a charming performance even though she is only 18 going on 19 years old. The music numbers are fabulous, especially Donald's Make em' Laugh and Gene and Don's Moses Supposes. They leave me speechless everytime I watch them. I recommend that no lover of film or musicals lets this one slip through their fingers. I'm only 17 and I have seen this movie at least 1000 times (and I wish I we're kidding). It's timeless and amazing.
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on June 13, 2003
Singin' in the Rain (1952) 103 minutes
Studio: Warner Studios Director: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Debbie Reynold - Donald O'Connor - Gene Kelly - Millard Mithchell - Joan Hagan - Cyd Charisse
The setting is 1927 in Hollywood. The story is about a man trying to keep his movies going without any sound. Don Lockwood is the movie star that acts with a leading lady of Hollywood and they have to become what the people want, so they act as a couple. The problem is that he can't stand her. He finds a woman in the movie that he is smitten by. Her name is Cathy, and she is a show girl.

I loved this movie. It have more talent in this one movie than all of the movies I have seen in my time. To bad I am to young to really appreciate the times that it came from.
The movie was in color and to bad they changed it because it would have been good in black and white also.
Don falls in love with Cathy and Lina is upset that it is not her that he has fell. When they make their first movie with sound it is a flop, so they decide to remake parts of the movie to make sure they keep their audience. They decide to make it a musical and to have Cathy be the voice over for Lina. Lina has an awful high pitched voice. Lina at the showing of the movie shows her true colors and blows her own cover about her voice. The movie was The Dancing Cavalier. In the end everyone is happy and the talkies took over the business of Hollywood.
A great musical for the whole family. I am giving many stars, because so many movies don't have the talent they used to have to bring people in to watch the best.
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on June 11, 2003
Calvin Coolidge! Put together!" An odd line, by any movie standard, but downright hilarious when said by nasally Lina Lamont, as played by Jean Hagen. 'Singin' In the Rain' enjoys a rare distinction in that it has a wonderful plot in between the incredible music numbers. So many musicals skimped on the plot. But such was not the case with Arthur Freed, Gene Kelly, and Stanley Donen at the helm.
If you're reading this, you probably know the plot by now, but I must comment on the performances. Gene Kelly is at his best (which is pretty darn good if you ask me) in this movie. His performance of the title number embodies the spirit of the movie musical. Jean Hagen (an underrated actress) nearly steals the picture with her performance. Debbie Reynolds as Gene Kelly's love interest must have been intimidated (being only 19 or 20 at the time she made the film), but she holds her own against Gene and Donald O'Connor. Please don't get me started on Donald O'Connor. I think he's been given far too little credit in every way imaginable as far as movie history goes. His dancing is superb, his comic style unmatched, and his charm level is through the roof.
That being said, I must address a few things in other reviews. The "Broadway Ballet" sequence DOES NOT detract from the movie. It is an essential part of it. Besides, it's a wonderful excuse to see the incomparable Cyd Charisse. She should have been in more Gene Kelly movies. Name a woman today with talent (and legs) like that. See? I knew you couldn't do it.
On to the DVD. The extras will not disappoint. There is some rehashing in the running commentary of things already said in the documentary hosted by Debbie Reynolds, but that's a minor quibble. For true movie musical buffs the documentary about MGM's legendary Arthur Freed unit is worth the price of the DVD alone. The picture quality is wonderful (the film was not shot in Cinemascope, so you're not missing anything) and the sound is very good, too. But, even without all the extras, I'd still recommend this movie. It is timeless.
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on April 21, 2003
Like most of us, I grew up with the title song since as long as I can remember. I've seen snippets here and there, but it wasn't until over the weekend that I saw the film in its entirety. I got this one because of the AFI 100. Shallow reasons aside, I'm glad I did. This has some great stuff in these two discs. Not only did you get a great movie, but you get a wonderful education on genre of film that is uniquely American.
First, the film. I loved it. The premise was interesting and solid. As I'm sure you know by now, it's about a famous silent film romantic duo whose careers become jepordized with the arrival of a little talking film called "The Jazz Singer." The male half, played by Gene Kelley, has no problem because he comes from a vaudville background, singing and dancing with his partner, played by Donald O'conner. But the other half of the duo Lina Lamont played by Jean Hagen, has problems. Obviously hired for her looks and not screeching brooklyn whine, and thus the dilema. If you took the music out, you would still have a film. The acting and pace are strong enough to keep you interested. Jean Hagan is pricless as the self-absorbed air head. The phrase "I caaan't stend 'im!" will stick in your head well after the movie is over. "Singing" never tries to be more that it actually is. A great light hearted musical-comedy and that why it works.
The dancing is nothing short of spectacular and while I did like the title song, my favorites were "Make 'em Laugh" and "Broadway Melodie". I liked Gene Kelly in "American in Paris" and the numbers in this film blows anything offered by that movie away. I also have a high respect for Kelly. The movie is co-directed by him and he easily could have made this movie showcasing only his talent. Instead he utilizes and celebrates the talents of others. Donald O'Connor as well as Cyd Charisse (man those legs!) are a perfect examples. The sets are stunning!
Now on to the DVD Features. More than you can shake a stick at! On disc one you have a great feature that shows signifigant movies that bridge silent film to talkies, including "The Jazz Singer." When I saw this, I felt I struck gold. The digital restoration of "Singer" and the others are amazing. Nothing is done half-heartedly here. The two documentaries on disc 2 proves my point further. These are not 20 minute snippets. One feature, hosted by Debbie Reynolds is about the making "Singing in the Rain" is over 30 minutes and is great. You get Donald O'Connor's take on the amazing gymnastics of "Make 'em Laugh" as well as some great stories by Charrise and Reynolds. The other documentary "Musicals great Musicals" is a whopping hour and a half! This was by far the best gem on the disc. Going through the history of the movie musical and chronicles producer Arthur Freeds career. My wife and I soaked this one up like a sponge. This even has make-up test from the Wizard of Oz and recovered footage from "Annie Get Your Gun" with Judy Garland before she was fired.
Bottom line: Get this one. Fans of the genre will be drooling and those who want an introduction to the genre will be tapping their feet before the first number is finished.
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on March 22, 2003
Aside from the widely accepted fact that this 1952 MGM Musical version of "Singin' In The Rain" is one of the finest pictures ever made, it now ranks as one of the best Special Edition DVD collections ever assembled.
Sadly, the routine packaging for this Special Edition does not communicate the exceptional preparation that went into production of this two-disc set. This collection represents the finest that MGM ever offered, and though poorly marketed and promoted, this edition is a Treasure! Two Thumbs... Five Stars... A++++!!
Ironically, this Special Edition DVD of MGM's classic film is released by... Warner Home Video. (Somewhere, Jack Warner is having a good laugh over this one!)
Disc One includes audio commentary from Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman (filmed shortly before her recent passing), Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green; with added commentary from contemporary filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge). In addition, there are several "Easter Eggs" that allow the viewer to watch related bonus film footage on the subject at hand. The perfectly restored Technicolor film is as brilliant as the day it was filmed.
Disc Two includes two documentaries; one of which is hosted by Debbie Reynolds herself. The documentaries integrate classic interviews from Hollywood legends including Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Vincent Minnelli, and many more. In addition, there is a stills gallery; film outtakes; and a magnificent collection of historic film musicals from the 1920's and 1930's.
This is film preservation at it's finest, and everyone involved deserves high praise for this wonderful collection. Bravo!
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on March 6, 2003
What is there about this movie that makes it so uniquely exhilarating, inspiring, even profound? After pitching "Broadway Melody," Don Lamont is told by his producer, "I can't visualize it. I'll have to see the movie."
"Singin' in the Rain" is a film that confronts both technique (stage elocution) and technology ("talkies") and demonstrates through its story and form that movies are a child of the human imagination. For me, the key scene is Don Lamont's sharing of his imaginative vision with Kathy on the sound stage serving as the set for his "You Were Meant for Me" number. We as spectators are witness to the entire fabrication, its basic pretense and artifice, yet we're as irresistibly drawn into Don's dream as is Kathy.
The triumph of "Singin' in the Rain" is that it constructs two levels of imaginative activity. The first is characterized by willful control and a passive surrendering to the mechanical; the second demonstrates the power of the imagination to transform artifice into art, technology into a human voice and vision. It's the "imagination" that Coleridge distinguishes from "fancy," a creative force that puts us in touch with the best parts of human nature. We exit the theater prepared for the outside blast because Kelley's encounter with it on a rainy street has provided not merely an escape but an alternative vision of reality, a realization that our dreams are capable of informing our lives.
On this DVD version, the edges are sharper than ever, the colors are richly saturated and even gaudy, the sound is full and enveloping. No film depends more on such excess and artifice to demonstrate its main point: when technology does not replace but is transformed by human imagination, we are able to see beyond our wildest dreams.
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on February 13, 2003
If you like musicals and dancing, and you haven't seen Singin' In the Rain, then you should be ashamed of yourself. Just kidding (well.....). This musical has top-notch everything: dancing and musical numbers ("Moses Suposes", "Good Morning", "Make 'Em Laugh", and of course "Singin' In the Rain"), humor (the hilarious Donald O'Connor as sidekick Cosmo Brown), great acting performances (Gene Kelly as movie star Don Lockwood, and especially Jean Hagen as Don's partner in film, Lina Lamont) and a sweet if not simple plot about love and Hollywood's transition from silent to talking films. Gene Kelly is mesmerizing and magical during his "Singin' in the Rain" number, one of the best moments in cinema. The whole movie is just so much fun. The disc of special features is pretty good, with two interesting documentaries, one strictly about Singin' in the Rain (hosted by Debbie Reynolds) and one about Arthur Freed/MGM musicals. The movie was digitally remastered and looks wonderful, with bright colors and crisp clear images.
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on January 31, 2003
"Singin' in the Rain" has the now infamous scene with Gene Kelly himself, dancer extraordinaire, splashing through puddles and singing about the bubbly feeling that love brings you. Everyone knows that scene, and many have imitated it since. I wonder how many people have sat down and truly had a good looksee at this extraordinary picture.
First, what's amazing is that this film was written just to string together a set of songs. The story of Hollywood's transition from silent films to talkies is showcased simply but brilliantly with grand comic overtones. The comedy works, the songs add to the story, and it is seemless. Oddly, even the "Broadway number", a ballet added to the middle of the film, seems out of place but wonderfully innovative and compelling.
Gene Kelly pulls off a tour de force performance as Don Lockwood, smitten star who shined brightly on a young Debbie Reynolds in her first starring role. Equally impressive, Donald O'Connor in an invisible but wonderfully played role of Cosmo, and Jean Hagen as the horrible Lena Lamont.
The transfer to DVD is impressive. The movie's never looked better and comes loaded with extras. The commentary track was interesting to listen to, but ultimately disappointing. If you watch the "Making of..." documentary on disk 2, you end up hearing many of the same comments, so it seems they just took comments and stuck them through the movie. Why not put Donald O'Conner and Debbie Reynolds in front of the movie and have them comment throughout? The winner of disk 2 is an hour and a half documentary on Arthur Freed and his impact on movies, which had me mesmerized. Also, film clips of the orginial songs as they were first performed was delightful.
Overall, this is a great buy. I love being able to jump to my favorite scenes (Good Morning and Moses Supposes get played the most!), and never tire of this classic. Voted the 10th best movie ever made, watch "Singin' in the Rain" and see why!
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